Hooray, tomorrow night is Purim! This is the happiest of Jewish holidays, so happy that we're supposed to be happy for the entire Hebrew month that it's in (Adar, in case you were wondering). Purim celebrates the saving of the Jews, as usual - those silly Jews are like damsels in distress, they always need saving! Anyway, an evil man named Haman tried to kill us, a beautiful Jewess named Esther used her sexual wiles to save us, we went on a celebratory genocidal rampage, and everyone was very happy! Now we wear masks and costumes to commemorate how Esther had to hide her identity as a Jew from her husband the king, we put on plays telling the story, we drink a lot to increase our happiness, and we eat these most delicious of cookies, the hamantaschen!
My roommates are not Jewish but we had a great time making what my roommate Abi refers to as "Jewish shortbread with jam." That's really the most succinct way I can think of to describe it (although we also made ones with chocolate and Nutella). Oftentimes hamantaschen are dry and flavorless, but these ones have just the right consistency. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how to achieve that consistency. When I doubled the recipe, I got my measurements confused and I put in one stick plus 1/3 of a cup instead of 2 sticks plus one third of a cup. And then I was really surprised as to why the dough was so crumbly even when I put in less flour than the recipe said. Oh well, it all turned out in the end, even though I'm a dum dum. As you can see from the picture, hamantaschen are like children - some of them come out of the oven weird and misshapen-looking, but you love them all equally, cause they all taste the same. Okay, that simile doesn't work as well as I had hoped. But have fun making your hamantaschen, and be sure to sing this song, which I taught to my roommates:
When you go to the store to buy a cookie
Most of the cookies are round
But a cookie in the shape of a triangle
Can almost never be found
Except for hamantaschen, they have three sides
Strawberries are baked inside
Every time that we hear Haman's name
We play this little game
And we go stomp, stomp, stomp, rat-a-tat-tat
I'm gonna eat your hat hat hat
Stomp, stomp, stomp, rat-a-tat-tat
I'm gonna eat your hat hat hat
Joan Nathan's Hamantaschen
2/3 cup pareve margarine or butter
1/2 cup sugar
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 the filling of your choice 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.