By: Tamar Ansh
Photo by: Reuven Ansh
Hamantaschen are not just cookies or pastries; and although they are delicious unto themselves, most of us don’t really make them at any time of year other than Purim. And that's good – it is what keeps this cookie with its tri-cornered shape special. This year, however, I realized that there is room for some creativity while still keeping the traditional shape. So I’ve concocted a new kind of hamantasch for your enjoyment. A “nahafochu” hamantasch, an eye-catching hamantsch…or maybe we'll just call them…
Yield: about 45 hamantaschen
You will need:
1 cup canola oil
1 & 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons baking powder
a very tiny pinch of salt
5 cups flour (plus a bit more for later use)
1/3 cup cocoa
colored sprinkles, chocolate chips, licorice, whatever decorations you fancy
prune or date or chocolate spread, or jelly, or whatever fillings you fancy
Place the eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking powder in a mixer bowl and mix with the flat metal mixing piece. Don’t use egg beaters, they will break. Add in the salt and flour. Mix until you have a thick, sticky cookie dough. Divide dough in half and place half in another bowl to make the “white” cookie dough. To the half in the mixer, add in the cocoa and mix it well for the “dark” cookie dough.
If the white cookie dough is too sticky to handle by hand, add in another 1/4 cup of flour and knead it in gently with your fingers. (The dark one won’t be sticky but if for some reason it is, add in flour by 1 tablespoon measurements.)
Line 3 cookie trays with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 350° F/180° C.
Tape 2 sheets of baking paper onto your kitchen table. Scatter a small amount of flour on each. Remove about half of the white dough and roll it out on one paper to a thickness of less than 1/2 inch. If it sticks to the rolling pin, rub some flour on the rolling pin too. Roll out half of the chocolate dough on the second sheet of paper. Brush the white dough with a tiny bit of water and place the dark dough on top of it, pressing together lightly.
Roll up the layered dough jelly-roll style forming one roll of swirled black and white dough.
You do this more than once so you have lots and lots of hamantaschen…
Cut the rolled dough into half-inch slices.
For hamantaschen, manipulate the circles of dough slightly between your fingers to 'swirl' the colors even more, then place them on baking paper on your work surface, flattening the circles even more with the heel of your hand. If you want filled hamantaschen, place the filling of your choice in the center of the circle before pinching it closed in the traditional triangular shape. Tip: don’t overhandle the cookie dough, it will start to get too soft and then it will stick to your fingers. Keep moving and shaping at a good pace. If your kids want to help, show them how to roll balls out of it gently. Squishing this dough will only result in a mess all over the hands.
My kids had a good time dreaming up fun fillings and colorful toppings. (Note: DON’T try small chocolate lentils inside your hamantaschen as they will melt and disappear.) If you like candies such as cut up licorice pieces or chocolate lentils, put some jam inside the hamantaschen when you bake them. After they are baked and you are just about ready to serve them, stick some of those candy pieces into the jam center; they will stick on that way and be nice and colorful to the eye…