Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's Hamantaschen Time!

Makes about 36 Hamantaschen



2/3 cup pareve margarine or butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2-3 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt

1. Cream the shortening with sugar. Add egg and continue creaming until smooth.

2. Add the vanilla. Stir in the sifted flour, baking powder, and salt until a ball of dough is formed
(a food processor is excellent for this).

3. Chill for 2-3 hours, or overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

5. Taking 1/4 of the dough, roll out on a lightly floured board to a thickness of 1/8 inch.

Cut circles of dough with a drinking glass or round cookie-cutter.

With your finger put water around the rim of the circle.

Fill with 1 teaspoon poppy-seed or nut filling and fold into three-cornered cookies. **
(Press two sides together, and then fold the third side over and press the ends together.)

6. Bake on a well-greased cookie sheet 10-16 minutes, until the tops are golden.

These freeze very well to help avoid that last minute holiday rush!

Poppyseed Filling:
1 c. poppy seed
1/2 c. water or milk
1/4 c. honey
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 lg. egg, slightly beaten
Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over moderate heat until thick, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes. Add lemon juice. Add a little of the hot mixture to the beaten egg and then stir into the remaining poppy seed mixture. Cool thoroughly before using.  This filling can be frozen for later use.

** Alternative fillings - One can fill these delicious pastries with any good fruit preserves - apricot, raspberry, and strawberry are yummy, although not traditional. My own family uses a mixture of ground dates, walnuts, sugar and freshly ground cardamom. My cousin's grandmother used ground cooked fig and walnuts or simply ground walnuts, sugar and freshly ground cardamom. I have not seen these used in households other than my family's or those of my childhood shul, however Turkish/Iraqi Jewish cooking has its own variations, as do most localities, depending upon the fruits or other ingredients in season.

A friend of mine from Norway always uses 1/2 almond flavouring and 1/2 vanilla extract in the dough and for the filling she used only nuts, sugar and ground cardamom and dusted each with powdered sugar using a flour sifter. Very pretty.

(K)P or (K)D if Butter is used

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