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Purim is coming up soon — better get baking!

The word “Purim” means “lots,” or using today’s language, lottery. And from a particular lottery, we’ve created an entire holiday that is the most outwardly joyous of the Hebrew calendar. 

Annabel Cohen
Annabel Cohen

Back in the sixth century BCE, Haman, the vizier to the King of Persia, ordered the annihilation of Jews. The event was to take place on the 13th of Adar. Through a series of actions, which included the Jewish wife, Esther, of the King of Persia and her uncle, Moredechai, the Jews were spared, and the evil Haman executed. 

On the day after, the 14th, there was a celebration their survival.

It’s a story that’s read in its entirety — the whole Megillah — not once, but twice, in case you didn’t hear it right the first time, on Purim. Then there’s the eating and drinking. Gifts are given (mostly sweets) as packages and hamantashen (the cookie kind — not the yeast type made at many bakeries) are made to celebrate. Here are some great recipes for making and giving and eating. 

Easy Hamantashen (Cookie Dough Type)

Great to make with kids because there’s no electric mixer involved!

Ingredients

  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup vegetable or oil (not extra-virgin)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Ice water or orange juice (as needed)

Filling Suggestions

Canned pie filling (I use Solo brand) — fruit or poppyseed or thick filling such as lemon curd, fruit preserves or peanut butter, hazelnut chocolate spread or cookie butter.

Directions

Position the oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside. 

Combine 2¼ cups flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk well. Set aside. 

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla.

Stir the mixture together with a spoon until crumbly.

Lightly flour a clean surface and turn the dough onto the surface.

Shaping, Filling and Baking Directions

Use your hands to “knead” (or start turning the dough over and over) until smooth. If the dough is too dry, add juice or water, a few drops at a time and continue kneading until the dough is smooth. If the dough is too wet, knead in the extra ¼-cup of flour. 

Flour the surface lightly again and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to about ⅛-¼ inch thickness. 

To cut the hamantashen, use a 3 to 5 inch cutter or the edge of a glass, or you can cut the rolled dough into rounds.

Gather the scraps and roll them out again and repeat making circles until you have 24-36 (depending on the thickness and size of circles).

Place about teaspoon of filling into the center of ONE circle — this is your “test hamantash” (too much filling will make the hamantashen break open or ooze filling). Fold the dough over the filling, overlapping the overlapping the edges to make a triangle (Do not pinch the edges together). A bit of filling should be visible. Press down on the edges to seal. 

Place the “test” hamantash on the baking sheet and freeze for 20-minutes before baking. bake for 15-20-minutes or so until the pastry is lightly golden. 

If the size and amount of filling are all correct, continue making hamantashen as the test or correct the amount of filling and dough folding. 

Makes 24-36 hamantashen, depending on size.

Non-Dairy Chocolate Chip Dough

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) non-dairy margarine or vegetable shortening, at room temperature 
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp. almond milk or coconut cream (stirred) or water
  • 1¼ cups flour 
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cup non-dairy mini chocolate chips

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the margarine and sugars together until smooth. Add the egg and almond milk vanilla until mixed until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk well. 

Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix until incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Place the mixing bowl into the refrigerator for one hour to chill.

Use the shaping, filling and baking directions above to finish the recipe.

Makes 18-24 hamantashen.

Citrus Nut Dough

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract (optional)
  • ½ tsp. Grated orange or lemon zest, or a combination
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. orange juice
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts 

Directions

In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and butter until creamy. 

Add in the egg, vanilla, zest and salt. Mix until incorporated. 

Add the flour, baking powder and juice. Mix until incorporated. Mix in the nuts. 

Place the mixing bowl in the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour. 

Use the shaping, filling and baking directions as above. Makes about 2-3 dozen cookies. 

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