Saturday, February 9, 2013

Traditional Hamantachen (Baking Powder) - apricot, raspberry and haroset filling


A non-yeast recipe, but I promised my kids that I would get it on the blog.

This is my traditional hamantachen dough, it's adapted from Chocolate Chip Challah & Other Twists on The Jewish Holiday Table by Rauchwerger (UAHC Press, 1999).  It's easy and doesn't require chilling time (a huge plus when you have kids baking with you &  it's hard to plan in advance).

The choreography is straight forward:

  • Make the dough, it can be used immediately (wrap and chill or freeze before rolling out and fill if you want) OR continue
  • Get jars/cans of filling (or if you want to, find a recipe for home made fillings
  • Divide dough into 4 or 5 pieces, keep the unused portion covered
  • Roll out dough (to about 1/4") on a flat surface that has been lightly dusted with flour, cut circles, fill, form cookies
  • Place on a parchment lined baking sheet
  • Bake 375 degrees for about 18 minutes (check after 12 minutes)
  • Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes (you can burn yourself if the hot filling drips 
  • Move cookies to cooling grid, allow to cool. Package in air tight container, the cookies stay well for 2 days or so, but will stay up to a week if you keep them in the fridge.  If you want, double wrap and freeze, they will stay well for several weeks.
The Dough:
  • 1c shortening (Fred assures me that since I don't use margarine often, we won't be poisoned from trans fats)- I haven't tried this, but maybe coconut oil would work  NOTE: See February 2013 comment below re: coconut oil.
  • 1.5 c sugar 
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 4 - 4 1/4 c all purpose flour 
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp orange rind 
1. Sift flour and baking powder together, set aside 
2. Cream the margarine and sugar (you can do this by hand or machine)
3. Add the eggs, juice, extract and orange rind 
4. Add the flour/baking powder in several additions, mix well. If the dough is very sticky, you can add up to 1/4 c more flour 
5. Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap. Cut off a portion of the dough

Pre-made Filling: Since my daughter loves muhn filling best,   Love and Bake has pareve poppy seed filling in a can.  You can find it at whole food or on-line. (Love and Bake also has lekvar.)

http://www.americanalmond.com/store/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=144

 Haroset filling (the cookie is NOT kosher for Passover).
 
My husband, Fred, makes a huge amount of charoset, we freeze about half for use after Passover.
  • About 20 oz sweetened grated coconut
  • 1 lb finely ground nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts in any combination you like)
  • 6 cups water (approximate amount, you have to check the haroset as it cooks)
  • 2 lb assorted dried fruit, chopped (definitely include pitted prunes, apples, dates. Skip figs, the seeds won't work well here)
  • 1 lb white raisins
  • 1lb dried apricots, chopped                                                      
  • 2-3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 24 oz cherry preserves
  • 1 1/2- 2 c sweet kiddush wine (or grape juice)
1. Combine (and mix) the coconut, fruit, ground nuts and water in a large pot. Simmer over low heat until fruit starts to break up and the mixture begins to thicken and look somewhat like a cooked cereal mixture
2. Add water if needed to keep the mixture from burning or sticking to the pot, keep stirring to prevent scorching. Be careful to keep stirring and watching- Fred may not admit this - but he has (slightly) burned the bottom of a pot while cooking this.
3. After the fruit has begun to break down (about 45 minutes) add the preserves and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes. The mixture will be thick. Let it cool, it should remain moist, but will be very thick.
4. Stir in wine, cover and chill. 
5. The haroset stays well for the entire week of Passover. It can be frozen in smaller 8oz packets, double wrapped, and keeps well for several months (we've kept it for up to 11 months).


Forming the cookies: 
6. Roll out on a flat surface that has been dusted with flour, dough should be about 1/4: thick.  Use a 2" cookie cutter, biscuit cutter or a glass to cut out circles. I use an old Welch's jelly jar glass (a Pokemon glass! Look closely at the picture, you can see it) 


7. The circles of dough will begin to puff a little bit,  you can flatten with your fingers and stretch out a bit. These cookies are a bit smaller than typical hamantachen when baked, if the dough is initially rolled out a bit thicker you can flatten and stretch to a larger circle of dough. 
8. Place about 1/2 tsp of filling in the center of the dough, fold up at one edge and then make 2 more folds to create a triangle. Make sure the seams are tight- they will open if you don't really seal the cookie folds.  
9. You want to make sure the dough encases the filling, the filling will bubble in the hot oven and run over if you (a) have too much filling or (b) don't fold the dough high enough around the filling.  This takes practice, keep at it. The "rejects" make very good snacks for brothers who walk into the kitchen and want samples. 
*** Keep your hands clean - when you have dough stuck to your fingers you may have trouble getting the seams to seal....
10. Place on the baking sheet lined with parchment, bake in an oven, pre-heated to 375 degrees

Repeat the process with another piece of dough, if you have 2 or 3 baking sheets you can keep the process going..... 

11. Bake for approximately 18 minutes, but check to see how they look after 12 or 13 minutes
12. Don't handle the cookies immediately after removing the tray from the oven. The hot jelly will run and can burn you- give the cookies a few minutes to set.  After 3-4 minutes, move the cookies to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.  Hot cookies will burn your tongue- be careful when you sample!