Monday, March 9, 2015

Expectation-Defying Evil King Body Part Cookies


Just the beginning of a recent rant in my newsfeed 

Dear college friend on Facebook who hates hamantaschen*:

You are wrong.

Love,

Sharon
 Hamantaschen with Apricot Rosemary Filling | Cheesy Pennies
Tart Cherry Hamantaschen with Dark Chocolate | Cheesy Pennies


Hamantaschen

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 45 minutes, plus chilling time
Cook Time: 15 minutes
I personally have always loved these cookies, for real. The deli near my house makes really yummy fat ones with a killer apricot filling. When my friend threw down that gauntlet, I decided I had to try and bake my own.  Once again, Google to the rescue. This blog post, aptly titled "How to make the perfect Hamentaschen" literally showed me the way.  The buttery dough is spectacular, with orange zest and vanilla and a great crisp-tender texture.   I added a touch of orange juice, and adapted her apricot filling by adding golden raisins and rosemary.  Then, just because I was on a roll, I filled a few with tart cherry preserves and dipped them in dark chocolate.  About the farthest thing from cardboard I've eaten in a while.

Ingredients
    For the cookies:
    • 2 1/4 c. flour
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
    • 3/4 c. butter, room temperature
    • 2/3 c. sugar
    • 1 egg, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 tsp. orange juice
    • 1 tsp. grated orange zest
    • Apricot Rosemary Raisin Filling (below), or thick fruit jam of your choice
    • 1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)
    • 1 Tbs. coconut oil (optional)
    For the Apricot Raisin Rosemary Filling
    • 1 c. dried pitted apricots
    • 1 c. golden raisins
    • 1 c. water
    • 1/4 cup orange juice
    • 1/2 c. sugar
    • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
    Instructions

    To make and form the cookies
    Whisk flour, salt and baking soda together in a medium bowl and set aside.

    In a larger mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, orange juice and orange zest, and beat again for 1-2 minutes, until smooth and creamy.

    Mix in the dry ingredients by hand, using a spatula or wooden spoon to bring the dough together. You may need to use your hands to gather up stray pieces and form the dough into a single ball. It will be very similar in texture to a pie crust.

    Separate the dough into two pieces. Roll each piece out between two pieces of wax paper until a little less than 1/4 inch thick, and put the sheets into the fridge for an hour or two at least. BTW, I do this for any recipe where you'd normally put a disk of dough in the fridge and then have to try and roll it out later when it's cold and hard. Total time saver!

    Hamantaschen dough | Cheesy Pennies

    Preheat the oven to 350.

    To form the cookies, follow these fantastic step by step instructions, using your favorite thick jam (cherry, AMAZING!) or the apricot raisin rosemary filling.
    Just filled hamantaschen | Cheesy Pennies

    Bake for 15 minutes, until the corners of the cookies are just beginning to turn golden brown. Cool completely.

    Tart Cherry Hamantaschen | Cheesy Pennies

    To take these completely over the top, and really show my friend how completely out to lunch he is, melt chocolate chips with coconut oil in a shallow bowl in the microwave. Dip bottoms of cooled cookies in the chocolate, and place on parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Cool until chocolate has hardened. Wow!

    Tart Cherry Hamantaschen with Dark Chocolate II | Cheesy Pennies


    To make the Apricot filling:

    Combine all of the filling ingredients in a medium pot, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low so the mixture is barely simmering and cover the pot.



    Let the mixture simmer covered for 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to be sure the the fruit isn't burning and you still have plenty of liquid in the pot.

    Remove the lid, and continue to simmer for 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated/absorbed. Keep a close eye on the pan to make sure the fruit doesn't burn. When there are about 3 tbsp of liquid left in the pan, remove from the heat. Fish the rosemary sprig out.

    Puree the mixture using an immersion blender or potato masher. The mixture will be like a very thick, sticky jam.  Cool completely before using in your cookies.

    Apricot Raisin Hamantaschen Filling | Cheesy Pennies

    * These treats are a big part of the Jewish festival of Purim, celebrating the defeat of an enemy king, Haman.  Depending on who you talk to, the triangular shape of the cookies symbolizes his hat or his ears.  To be (slightly) fair to my friend, later in his rant he did complain that the very idea of eating symbolic body parts was also a contributing factor to his disdain for this dessert, and I do kind of get that.

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