Friday, March 18, 2011

Chocolate Hamentaschen for Purim

This year the Holiday of Purim starts on March 19 (lunar calendar). The traditional food served during this Jewish Holiday is Hamentaschen. They're made to resemble Hamen's (the villain of the story) hat!  Traditionally, hamentaschen were filled with prune, apricot or munn (poppyseed). But what's to say that Hamen's Hat couldn't be made of or filled with chocolate? I must mention that this holiday is about a Jewish woman who saves her people. How can you not love a holiday that honors a strong clever woman?

In the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on its thirteenth day ... on the day that the enemies of the Jews were expected to prevail over them, it was turned about: the Jews prevailed over their adversaries. - Esther 9:1
And they gained relief on the fourteenth, making it a day of feasting and gladness. - Esther 9:17
[Mordecai instructed them] to observe them as days of feasting and gladness, and sending delicacies to one another, and gifts to the poor. - Esther 9:22

The holiday of Purim appears in the Book of Esther. The story is read from the Megillah. So as not to give you the whole 'megillah' here, the story goes that Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as a daughter, was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of Ahasuerus' harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther and made Esther queen, but the king did not know that Esther was Jewish. The king’s aide, Haman, wanted to kill the Jews. Esther tells the king that  Hamen is plotting to have her killed-- well he's plotting to have all the Jews killed. When she tells the King that she is Jewish, the king kills Haman instead and saves the Jews. During Purim, everyone eats  hamantaschen. They are supposed to be modeled after Haman’s three pointed hat. In Israel it's said they're shaped like Hamen's ears (oznei Haman), but I feel better about eating hats than ears. :-) So on with the Chocolate!

Following are two great recipes for Chocolate Hamentaschen for Purim. You'll find them quite different, and I suggest you try both. Although the holiday starts this weekend, there's no reason that these great pastries (cookies) can't be made and consumed now!

Victoria Sutton at MyJewishLearning has a really wonderful recipe for Decadent Chocolate Hamantaschen. (Victoria Sutton has a BA from Barnard College, and the Grand Diploma in Classic Pastry Arts from the French Culinary Institute. She works as a freelance chef in New York City.) When I made these I filled them with Nutella. Great addition. So many possibilities. The second recipe has a darker chocolate pastry (I use dark cocoa), and the hamentaschen are filled with jam. The second recipe is from Emily at Voila! Adventures in the Kitchen with Emily. Another taste treat  is to fill these with peanut butter.  Of course, you can make your own family recipe for Hamentaschen and fill them with chocolate. Any way you make them, have fun!

Before you begin, here are some tips for making good hamantaschen.
Dough: Be sure and chill your dough. If you're not quick about it, put the dough back in the fridge for a short time. Be sure and refrigerate the dough before rolling it out. Roll out dough between pieces of parchment or wax paper rather than adding more flour, so the final product isn't too dense and doughy.

Tip for shaping: Put a dollop of filling in the middle of each circle. Fold up the sides to make a triangle, folding the last corner under the starting point, so that each side has a corner that folds over and a corner that folds under. Folding in this "pinwheel" style will reduce the likelihood that the last side will fall open while cooking, losing its filling. It also makes a better triangle shape.

I. Decadent Chocolate Hamentaschen
Recipe from Victoria Sutton at MyJewishLearning 

Chocolate P√Ęte Sucree:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 egg
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup DARK cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3-4 Tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate Ganache Filling:
8 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
8 ounces heavy cream
Dash salt
Rum to taste (optional)

Chopped cherries, cranberries, nuts, or toffee (optional)

To prepare sucree: Cream butter, sugar, salt, and almond extract if using until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix until incorporated. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Add to butter mixture in two stages, alternating with the heavy cream. More or less cream might be needed depending on the consistency of the dough. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, and form a flattened disc. Chill for at least one hour.

To prepare ganache: Over a double boiler, heat cream and chopped chocolate. When chocolate is mostly melted, lightly whisk until ganache is smooth and shiny. Whisk in rum (optional) and salt. Chill for several hours.

To form hamantaschen: Roll chilled chocolate sucree to slightly more than 1/8 inch thick. Using a round cutter or glass rim dipped in flour, cut circles of about 3 inches in diameter. If adding dried fruit or nuts, sprinkle a small amount in the center of the cut discs.

Remove ganache from fridge, and using either a small ice-cream scoop or by hand, form about 1 inch round balls and place in center of sucree circles. Carefully fold in the edges to form a triangular shape, and pinch the corners to seal.  Ensure there are no gaps or tears in the dough, to prevent filling from oozing out during baking.

Bake hamantaschen on greased cookie sheets at 350 F for about 15 minutes, until crust is baked through. Ganache will liquify during baking, but will set as hamantaschen cool. 

This second recipe features a really dark chocolate pastry,  and these hamentaschen are filled with jam. This recipe is adapted from Emily at Voila! Adventures in the Kitchen with Emily. Another great taste treat is to fill these with peanut butter.

II. CHOCOLATE HAMENTASCHEN 
Recipe from Emily at Voila! Adventures in the Kitchen with Emily.

Ingredients
Recipe originally adapted from Coconut and Lime
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup DARK cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of any flavor jam, divided

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line with cookie sheet with parchment paper
1. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat thoroughly.
2. Add flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and mix until a thick dough forms. Refrigerate the dough for about 10 minutes.
3. Sprinkle a clean work area with powdered sugar. Roll out the dough until about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out 2 to 3 inch rounds. Place them on the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.
4. Spoon 1-2 tsp of jam (or peanut butter) in the middle and fold the sides to create a triangle shape. Pinch the corners and lightly smoosh them down so there isn’t a visible seam. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Photo 2: Chocolate Hamentachen: Voila!Adventures with Emily

2 comments:

Lauren at Keep It Sweet said...

I've never seen chocolate hamentaschen before!

Janet Rudolph said...

Lauren, the NYT has a great chocolate filling for Hamentaschen this week. I need to try it!