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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Hamantaschen: How Do I Love Thee?

What a wonderful Jewish holiday is Purim where three-sided cookies are in abundance, celebrating Queen Esther’s intervention on behalf of Persian Jewry and the overthrow of Haman’s nefarious plot against them. The time of celebration includes these special triangular cookies which either represent: Haman’s three-sided hat, Haman’s ears, or Haman’s pockets, depending on what language you speak. Why we don’t celebrate victory over his nose, or buttons, or grasping fingers is anyone’s guess.

Naive soul that I am, I went to a large suburban supermarket to find the delightfully delicious cookies in time for the holiday. Last time I checked, the demographics warranted that I should be able to locate a few hamantaschen in their bakery section.

Zippo. There were madeleines, donuts, cakes, and chocolate chip cookies, but no hamantaschen. Not even any rugaleh, now that I think about it.

I hopped back in the car and instructed Benedetto, “On to the deli.” He knew exactly where I meant, though we hadn’t been there in maybe 20 years and it had been a regular institution on our matzoh ball circuit when we were Young and had Time to go to a Jewish deli for some lazy weekend morning lox. We decided to head straight there, rather than any local bakery that may or may not carry these characteristic cookies.

My kids were going to have hamantaschen if it took forever to find them. I had even looked up a few recipes, thinking we might just as well make our own: cookie dough or sour cream cookie dough cut into circles, jam or fruit preserves spread in the middle, and the cookie dough folded around the edges to make the distinctive triangular shape. Some recipes said to pinch the edges, some said to folk the edges clockwise, overlapping the next side, some said to slightly freeze the final shape before popping them in the oven, so they wouldn’t fall apart. It was a lot of work, and I didn’t have a lot of time.

On the drive, I thought back to our days in Israel where every supermarket carried scores of “oznei Haman” prune or poppyseed being the most popular fillings, along with date, apricot, cherry, apple, or chocolate. Oooh, chocolate! Halvah filling could be found in Israel, which I’d better not tell Sashenka, our youngest, who could easily down a slab of halvah the size of a cheese wheel. I remembered the hamantaschen of my youth, the kind that had the dough circles made from a cookie cutter with the edges approximating the waviness of pinking shears, so when it was folded over, it had a rick-rack look. They were regular cookie size, so you could enjoy trying out two or three flavors.

At the deli, I scooted the snoozing dogs off of my lap and ran inside. Naturally, we latecomers were getting the tail-end of the hamantaschen and beggars can’t be choosers: we scooped up three huge prune ones, three huge apple ones, and the last remaining cherry hockey puck. I think you could feed a family of four on each one, and considering that they were well over $2 a piece, these would probably suffice us.

Discussing the available hamantaschen with the counter clerk, a Joe-cool guy sidled up to me. Only in a Jewish deli do patrons discuss each other’s purchases.

“Who gets the prune?” he asked, eying my hamantaschen being placed in the big bakery box.

“Not me!” I laughed. “I’ll give it to my husband and tell him to enjoy.”

Benedetto and Petya both actually liked prune. Tradition, as they say. Cherry was fine with me, if they didn’t have any chocolate. The other kids would love anything we gave them, not yet having developed a refined hamantaschen palate.

Do you have hamantaschen where you live?


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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Winnie says:

    No hamantaschen but I wish there was, they look wonderful. No I’m stuck in a culinary wasteland where beer, cheese, and bratwurst are considered essential fare at every celebration. I don’t think the typical Wisconsinite’s diet qualifies as Kosher even in the slightest.

  2. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    Oh, yes, we DO! Malek’s Kosher Bakery, now owned and run by a guy with an Italian name but a commitment to keeping kosher. Tasty. And I prefer ??? (poppy seed) to any other flavor!

    • avatar admin says:

      Poppy seed… hmmm… a traditionalist like Benedetto. One piece of advice: just don’t take any photos that require you to smile immediately thereafter, lol! I just heard of peanut butter and chocolate chips… I’ll have to add that to my possible recipes for next year.

  3. Thanks for stopping by my site–a friend made some hamantaschen this year with the traditional cookie dough, filled with apricot or strawberry jam–very good, and different from my non-traditional ones made with pie-crust and fruit filling. She has made them filled with nutella–haven’t tried that yet, but I’m thinking maybe next year…

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, Charlene, I am a firm believer that one cannot go wrong with Nutella-! How to get it inside the Thanksgiving turkey in some form, is the question…. Pie crust is an interesting thought. Believe it or not, I have just mixed my first-ever batch, rolling and filling yet to come, can’t wait till next year. I have hamantaschen on the brain, lol.

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