Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ethnic Flavor: When you go to the store to buy a cookie...

Happy Purim, everyone! I know that in the post below, Rebecca said there would be no post about hamentaschen this year. She was misinformed, and I just sent her an angry all-caps text message to correct her mistake. So, that's taken care of.

Right, Purim, Judaism's most genocide-/alcoholism-friendly holiday! This year, Purim is extra-special for a number of reasons:
1) It's on a Sunday, which is extra-good for Saturday night partying
2) It's absurdly early, just like everything on the Jewish calendar this year
3) It's also Rebecca's birthday! So if you see her, be sure to wish her a happy birthday.
4) It's apparently the only day in the month of February that the Baking Sisters are going to blog, so savor it
Purim is alway really fun, not least because I get to dress up and sing my favorite song of all time (referenced in the title of this post: you can find the full lyrics here). The cookie of Purim is, of course, the hamentaschen. Yesterday at children's services, I had the following exchange with a three-year-old:

Sarah: What is the name of the cookie that we eat on Purim?
Child: Hamentaschen!
Sarah: And why do we eat hamentaschen?
Child: Because it's Purim.

Sarah: That's kind of tautological.

No, the real reason we eat Haman's hat/pockets/ears is to commemorate our victory over the wicked wicked man. Plus, they taste good. But I've never found a recipe I've been truly happy with. This year, I tried an oil-based dough (not for any ideological reason so much as that I was making the dough while watching "Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids" with Rachel and oil-based dough can be mixed while sitting in front of the TV). While I was looking on the Internet for recipes, I found a lot of folks who passionately believe that poppyseeds are the only proper filling for hamentaschen. To them I say: get a life, it's just a cookie. I filled mine with raspberry jam and mini chocolate chips. They came out a lot better than they usually do, which I attribute to two things. One, courtesy of my sisters, was that I rolled the dough out very thin. It's a little counterintuitive that thin walls of dough would hold the filling better than thick ones, but on Purim, everything is upside down! Two, I folded the corners instead of just pinching them. This probably seems blindingly obvious to most of you, but for whatever reason it never occurred to me until this year. 

Taste-wise, they were pretty good. I'm guessing that it's the oil in the dough, but they were a little tough. I happen to think that crunchy hamentaschen are better than doughy ones, so I didn't mind, but that's a matter of opinion. These were simple to make and satisfying to eat, but I'm going to keep searching for the perfect recipe, so check back in next year! The recipe is here. (Note: the recipe calls for four eggs but is not at all clear that only three are supposed to go in the dough; one is for egg wash. I put all four in the dough and I don't think it affected them negatively.)

BAKED Sunday Mornings: Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Budino

Happy Purim!  If you came here looking for some hamentashen (triangle cookies), you can find them here or here or here.  I didn't have it in me to make any this year, although I've always wanted to try my friend Shoshana's S'more Hamentashen.  However, I've been away and I have a huge Purim program today, so no hamentashen for us this year.

But, I do have some pudding for you (which reminded me of Dorie's Split Level pudding but not quite as rich).  Technically this is a budino, which is apparently an Italian custard or pudding, so pudding is fine.  Budino just makes it sound super fancy.  Despite the fact that this pudding used many, many bowls and pans, it was quite easy to make.  The thickening power mostly comes from cornstarch, so you can't screw it up.  My pudding was a little lumpy, but I don't really mind.  I really enjoyed the flavor of these puddings, both separately and together and I love the way the vanilla one looked with all the vanilla bean seeds sprinkled throughout.  If you want a dessert that looks impressive but is easy to make, you should totally try this.  You can get the recipe here and head over to Baked Sunday Mornings to see what everyone else did.

Happy Purim!  

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