Noshin’ on hamantashen


By Ethel G. Hofman, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer

Some say that hamantashen — the triangular, filled cookies we eat on Purim — remind us of the Purim villain Haman’s hat. Others say they call to mind his pockets or even his ears, symbolic of ancient times when it was the practice to cut off the ears of criminals before hanging — the fate of Haman and his sons.

No matter what you think hamantashen symbolize, here are three of my favorite recipes to help sweeten the celebration of the Jewish victory over Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews of the Persian empire.


Hasty Hamantashen
(pareve or dairy)
from Everyday Jewish Cooking by Ethel G. Hofman

1/2 cup poppy seed filling from a jar
or prune filling (recipe below)
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 (12 oz.) package pareve or dairy refrigerated biscuits
2 Tbsp. warm honey or powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400. In a small bowl, mix together the poppyseed filling, lemon rind and cinnamon.

2. Separate the biscuits. On a lightly floured board, flatten each biscuit into a round, about 21/2 inches in diameter.

3. Place one rounded teaspoon filling in center of each biscuit. Dampen edges with water. Fold dough up over the filling to form a three-sided pyramid. Leave some of the filling uncovered. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake in preheated oven 12 minutes or until golden at edges. Brush with honey or dust with powdered sugar.

Prune Filling (pareve)
makes about 11/2 cups

1 (12 oz.) package pitted prunes
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. white wine (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Place prunes, juice and wine (optional) in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to barely cover. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cook until only about 1/4 cup liquid remains, about 15 minutes.

2. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Transfer to a food processor. Pulse to a coarse paste. Cool completely before using. Makes 10.


Haman’s Ears (pareve)
Hamantashen are the favorite Purim treat for Eastern European Jews. Sephardi Jews prefer to eat deep-fried twisted Haman’s Ears. Rose water is available in specialty shops or substitute 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. rose water
vegetable oil for frying
powdered sugar

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and ginger. Make a well in center. Pour in the egg, oil and rose water. Mix well. Turn onto a floured board and knead until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add a little more flour if too sticky. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Pinch off small pieces, about the size of a walnut. Shape and twist to resemble ears. No need to be perfect — it’s said that Haman’s ears were pointed and knobby.

Heat about 1/2-inch oil to 375 degrees over medium heat (a cube of bread should brown in 60 seconds).

Add the ears, making sure that they do not touch. Fry until puffed and golden on each side. Drain on paper towels. Cool slightly before sprinkling generously with powdered sugar. Makes 25-30.


Old Fashioned Hamantashen (pareve)

3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
11/2 cups prune or other filling

Preheat oven to 350. Spray two cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until pale, 3-4 minutes. Add the oil and mix well. Gradually add the flour, about a half cup at a time, the baking powder and vanilla. Mix to blend well.

Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a floured board, about 1/8th-inch thick. With a cookie cutter or top of a glass, cut into 3-inch circles (flour the glass between each cut).

Place a rounded teaspoonful filling on center of each circle. Dampen edges with water.

Fold dough up over the filling to form a three-sided pyramid. Leave some of the filling in center uncovered. Place on prepared cookie sheets one inch apart. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes or until golden. Makes 15.

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