Folks, I know I’m a bit late posting, but in the event that a few of you are still home baking your mishloach manot, or if you are hosting seudah tomorrow and you are just not that into serving coconut cheesecake hamantashen or savory goat cheese hamantaschen or goji berry with superfood powder hamantaschen, this blog post is for you. This time of year comes around and I crave old fashioned, traditional hamantaschen with filling of poppy, apricot, prune or fig. Anything else feels like guitars in the synagogue on Friday night; forced and doesn’t help me connect to tradition. However, I have tasted a few ‘traditional’ hamantaschen in my time that were not fit to tile the bathroom floor. The filling was too acidic or too sickly sweet. The dough was too thick, too crumbly, and just not delicious. So, perhaps my favorite early springtime cookie needs a bit of a progressive touch. Like Judaism, the humble hamantasch needs careful updating so as to meet the needs of our modern life and connect to the tradition of our ancestors. Here is the best I can muster. A batch consists of 18 cookies, for life, of course!!
2 1/4 tsps of active dry yeast
1/4 cup of steamy hot water
1/4 cup of cream or half and half
2 tbsps of sugar
half a stick (1/4 cup) of butter
1/4 package of philly cream cheese
2 1/2 cups of flour
splash of vanilla
Apricot preserves (store bought)
Custard (you can buy Kozy shack flan or something similar or do the home made version)
2 cups of heavy cream
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
Directions for baking the custard: put cream into a saucepan and begin to heat. Open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into cream, add bean to mixture and bring the whole thing to a boil. Turn off the heat and cover for ten minutes. combine egg yolks and sugar with a whisk until the yolks turn lemony yellow. Then, temper the cream mixture into the egg mixture, a little at a time so as not to scramble. Bake for forty minutes at 325 and then chill for at least an hour.
Directions for dough: using a stand mixer, combine yeast and steamy water. Let proof for five minutes. Add milk and the first third of the flour (like 3/4 of a cup). mix together until well combined. Add butter, sugar, and cream cheese and mix for one minute, then add another 3/4 cup of flour. Add the egg so the mixture is too liquidy again, add vanilla, mix for a minute and then add 3/4 of a cup of flour. Add the last 1/4 cup of flour and knead with the paddle for five minutes (you may have to pull it off the paddle a few times to get it just right. Stick the dough in a dark cabinet for an hour until it doubles. Take it out and punch it down.
Directions for constructing the cookies: Roll the dough nice and thin, to 1/8 of an inch. Remember that it is still going to puff in the oven. Take your favorite coffee mug and make three or four inch rounds. Fill with 1/2 tsp of custard and some preserves on top. Pinch the ends tightly into a triangle and make the center hole smaller than you think it should be. Ice water on your finger tips will secure the seam. Refrigerate your cookies for at least five minutes, then bake at 375 for twelve minutes. Turn the oven off and open it a crack. Let the cookies sit in the warm oven for another minute or so, then put on the counter to cool.