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Purim Preparedness

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I know that Purim is a few weeks off-but somehow the holiday creeps in and often I am left unprepared.

Every year I wait until the last minute to even think about Purim, and making Hamantaschen, and before I know it the holiday sneaks up on me and I end up buying Hamantaschen at the store or bakery.

Yeah, they are OK Hamantaschen all right, but nowhere near as good as those made at home. I have to sneak the package into the house and arrange the counterfeit confections on a plate and try and pass them off as my own.

This year, I am armed and prepared to bake my own. I have a recipe for each week and if I stick to the plan I will have enough of the gorgeous goodies to serve my family and friends in my home (and even enough to put in cute little bags for Mishloach Manot or gifts to friends).

This year is going to be different and Purim will not slide by me unnoticed. Who knows: Maybe I will even wear a costume to shul?

Here is the first installment of Hamantaschen recipes. This one starts off strong and you can see how sincere I am as I prepare for the holiday. I went with a Persian theme and added a touch of Rosewater to a sensuous Almond Paste filling. With Hamantaschen this good-baking at home may become habit forming.

Chef Laura’s Hamantaschen

This elegant confection elevates the triangle shaped cookie we all know and love. In the spirit of Persian flavors I have used a Rosewater and Almond Filling. 

½ cup unsalted butter

¾ cup sugar

2 teaspoons fresh orange zest

1 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

2 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

  1. Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the orange zest, orange juice and vanilla extract to the mixture.
  3. With the machine running on low add the eggs one at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each egg.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix to combine-be careful not to over mix or the dough will be tough.
  5. Roll the dough on a floured surface to ¼ inch thickness. Dip a round cookie cutter into flour and cut circles in the dough. Fill the dough with ½ teaspoon of filling and pinch the edges together to form a triangle. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned.
  6. Transfer the Hamantaschen to a cooling rack.

Rosewater-Almond Filling

8 ounce almond paste

4 ounces softened butter

4 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon almond extract (I like Nielsen Massey extract)

½ teaspoon rosewater*

2 eggs

4 tablespoons almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill-found at most grocery stores and Whole Foods)

1.  Mix all of the above ingredients together in a mixer until very smooth. The almond filling can be made up to 5 days ahead of baking and can be stored covered in the refrigerator or frozen for up to 1 month. 

*Rosewater is a distillation of rose petals. Rose oil is made from distilling crushed rose petals and is used in cosmetics and perfumes. Rosewater is a by-product of this process.

Rosewater is commonly used in Persian and Indian recipes. It is used in desserts as well as savory dishes.

In Europe, rosewater is used to flavor marzipan, marshmallows and scones.

Last year, my husband and I were in Paris and visited many patisseries owned by friends. Rose scented desserts are “in;” we saw and ate them everywhere in Paris. We passed by a shop everyday in Le Marais that only sold rosewater products and baked goods.

Rosewater is an old ingredient that is enjoying resurgence in popularity.  I encourage you to try it. I use it in Persian cooking, desserts, vinaigrettes and marinades. When first trying to cook with rosewater-go slow at first until you get a feel for it. A little goes a long way.

Rosewater can be found in many grocery stores, Persian or Middle Eastern stores as well as online. Rosewater is a distillation and does not require hashgacha.

Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here. For more articles by Laura, click here.
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