You don’t have to be Jewish to whip up a batch of hamantaschen. Photo courtesy Zabars.com.
Spell It Hamantashen, Hamentaschen Or Any Other Way: These Purim Cookies Are Delicious Year-Round
Hamantashen are delicious year-round, so why do we only think about them for Purim (the beginning of March)? Once you make this recipe, you’ll want them more often.
The story of the Jewish holiday of Purim, as told in the Bible’s Book of Esther, tells of the deliverance of the Jewish people from an annihilation plot of the Persian king Haman. This book is called “The Megillah” in Hebrew, leading to the expression “the whole megillah” or the whole story.
During the annual Purim storytelling—the reading of The Megillah—participants drown out the name of the villain Haman each time it is read, by using a “grogger,” the Yiddish word for noisemaker.
The name Purim means “lots,” which, like rolling dice, were used to determine when the Jews would be destroyed. The Jews’ fate was reversed, thanks to the leadership of the heroic Queen Esther; and a day of planned destruction turned into a day of joyous redemption. Purim is celebrated on the 14th or 15th day of Adar in the Hebrew calendar (around March 1st).
Like most Jewish holidays, this one has its traditional food, hamantashen (singular, hamantasch, and also spelled hamentashen, hamantashen, homentash, homentasch and humentash), which means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish. Hamantashen is a triangular-shaped pastry with a cookie-like dough (a cross between a cookie and a tart), not particularly sweet, originally filled with a sweetened poppy seed (“mon”) or prune paste. The triangle shape references the three-cornered hat worn by Haman.
Today hamantashen is made with a variety of fillings to please modern palates: apricot, prune and raspberry as well as poppy Around Purim, they appear in bakeries, and can be purchased online at The Exceptional Dessert. They’re a lovely little pastry to enjoy with coffee or tea.
Poppyseed filling is known as “mun” or “mon,” after the Yiddish word for poppy. Some lexicographers believe that the “homentashn” cookies take their name not from Haman’s pockets, but from “montashn” or “poppy pockets,” a pastry which was later renamed to hamentaschen/homentashn to fit with the Purim story.
Instead of making the filling, you can buy prune and apricot lekvár at stores that sell Eastern European products. It’s a very thick, coarse jam made of of pure ripe fruit. Bakers use it to fill the hamantaschen.
Poppy Seed Filling
You need to prepare the poppyseeds a day in advance.
Recipe © Zabar’s. All other material © Copyright 2005- 2015 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. Images are copyright of their respective owners.
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