Chag Sameach! That means "happy holiday" and is a common greeting around Purim time, a Jewish holiday celebrating the death of the Persian King Ahashuerus’ wicked chief advisor, Haman, who planned to destroy all the Jewish people in the country. In honor of the Persian king's hanging of this bad seed, we indulge in tasty triangle-shaped cookies that resemble Haman's hat and symbolize his demise. Purim is always a big celebration, with lots of drinking and dancing and costume-wearing. This year I'll be attending a Purim party with my friend at the Kabbalah Center in Boca. It's a western theme. I can't wait to don my Cowboy hat and boots and do-si-do all night, but before these festivities begin, I decided to get ready for the holiday by making my own batch of Hamantaschen.
I learned a very important lesson while making these cookies: always measure out your ingredients before you start to bake. Halfway through preparing my dough, I realized I didn't have enough flour! Oops... Being that it was about 9pm on a Saturday night when this realization occurred, I was pretty much S.O.L for the night. So I did what I had to do; I covered the bowl of brownie batter-esque "dough" with Saran wrap and stuck it in the fridge, where I would turn it into a solid cookie dough after a trip to Publix the following morning. Some recipes do require you to refrigerate your dough overnight; however, the recipe I was using as my guide did not, so I was afraid that by doing so, it would somehow ruin it. Thankfully after adding more flour to the mix, everything was okay. Whew. I have to admit I struggled a bit with these cookies. Folding/pinching them into the triangle shape proved to be trickier than I expected, but the hard work paid off because the cookies came out fantastic. Hamantaschen can be filled with anything you desire — apricot, prunes, poppy seed, chocolate, cherry, etc. I chose to make two fillings: apricot and chocolate peanut butter. Both were very successful, but I definitely favored the chocolate peanut butter over the apricot because in all seriousness, what's better than a chocolate peanut butter filled cookie?
Enough talk about how delicious these Purim desserts came out; let's get to the recipe!
For the dough:
~5 cups all purpose flour (you may end up needing more)
1 cup granulated sugar (I used Stevia)
3/4 cups vegetable oil
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup rolled oats (my "secret" ingredient)
Chocolate Peanut Butter: 1/2 tbsp of Better'n Peanut Butter topped with 6-8 Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate chocolate chips
Apricot: 1 cup dried apricots, Stevia or your sweetener of choice, and ~1/2 cup of water. Put water, apricots and sugar into a pan on the stove and heat on medium-high heat until the apricots have softened. Mash the apricots or chop them in a food processor - either method works well.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add in the vegetable oil, vanilla extract and lemon juice and mix until well-combined. Stir in the flour mixture a little at a time. This was the point in the game where I realized I didn't have enough flour. The dough was not a dough at all. It resembled more of a brownie batter. That's when I added in the oatmeal with the intention of using it as a thickener. Obviously this didn't work...but the oatmeal ended up being a great additive to the mix. I think it definitely added a little something to the taste of the cookie. My suggestion would be to add in the oatmeal right before the mixture starts to solidify, then continue stirring until everything is combined and you have yourself a sturdy dough to work with.
Now it's time for the real work to begin. Dust flour over a large surface area to roll out your dough. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough to about a 1/4 inch. Cut out circles using a cookie cutter, or if you have to improvise like I did, use the top of a glass with a relatively large mouth. Spoon about a tablespoon of your filling of choice into the center of the circle. Fold the circle into a triangular shape and pinch corners together. Make sure the filling is covered by the dough so it doesn't spill out while baking. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are a little crispy.
I really am happy with how these turned out. I was really worried that I would have to start all over again after my flour mishap in the beginning, but it actually ended up being a blessing in disguise because it led me to put my own spin on the recipe by adding the oatmeal. My co-workers had been raving about Hamantaschen all last week and they couldn't wait for me to make them. Immediately upon walking into the office, the tupperware filled with goodies was dug right into and sounds of satisfaction filled the room as soon as the cookies hit their mouths.
I think I'm getting the hang of this baking thing... :)