Gift Baskets for Purim
This article originally
appeared in the Orthodox Union's weekly e-newsletter, Shabbat Shalom (www.ou.org/shabbat)
If you feel like a basket case as Purim approaches and
are searching for interesting items for your shaloach manot gift baskets,
read on! You'll find lots of tasty treats that are sure to please family
and friends. Your baskets will runneth over!
The best-known treat
for Purim is hamantaschen, those scrumptious three-cornered pastries
shaped like Haman's three-cornered hat. Everyone has their own special
recipe, ranging from crisp cookie dough to tender yeast dough. The
delectable dough encases a variety of fillings, depending on your family's
Two mavens in the art of
hamantaschen-making are Rise' Routenberg and Barbara Wasser. They are the
co-authors and recipe editors of the award winning cookbook, Divine™
Kosher Cuisine: Catering to Family & Friends, a congregational project
of Congregation Aguadat Achim, Niskayuna, NY. The recipe co-ordinator was
Arlene Mendelson, who handled the huge project and was in charge of
arranging the tasting, testing and taking care of all the minute details
that go into the making of a cookbook.
The dedicated teamwork of
the many congregants produced a magnificent cookbook that is very much
like the intricate needlepoint tapestry pictured on the cover of Divine™
Kosher Cuisine. The tapestry hangs in the foyer just outside the synagogue
Risa) and Barbara compiled the
recipes and contributed greatly to the recipe base from their own personal
collections, and especially from the secret, never-before-revealed and
much sought after recipes of As You Like It Kosher Catering, which has
been in business for over 35 years (the two women were co-leaders of the
catering business for many years). About half of the recipes in Divine™
Kosher Cuisine are a compilation of these secret recipes; the rest of the
recipes were submitted by 150 or more congregants.
When I spoke
with Risé on the phone and asked her for some unique, creative items that
could be used to fill Purim baskets, she didn't hesitate and suggested the
following tried and true recipes.
told me: "These are great
recipes for Purim baskets because they don't require refrigeration and
they package very nicely in plastic wrap or baggies. Every one of these
recipes is simple to prepare.
"We usually made all the hamentashen
and another committee would package them. We would make about 4,000
hamantaschen in about 2 days! The secret to our success is doing them
assembly-line fashion in the synagogue's commercial kitchen that has large
commercial ovens, equipment and mixers - not in someone's home. We made
several batches of dough at a time and we always made the dough ahead of
time. This dough is nice and firm and not dry.
"We discovered that
the congregants who purchased them liked traditional fillings best. The
most popular ones are usually the red jelly and apricot fillings. Not as
many people like prune, but the poppy seed filling is just as popular as
the fruit fillings. Our Double Chocolate Filling is always very popular.
It's our own recipe that we formulated until we got it to bake nicely so
it wouldn't dry out. I only like the chocolate ones, but my co-author
Barbara Wasser's favorite filling is prune."
Cuisine was the 2006 MidAtlantic Region winner of the Tabasco- McIlhenny
Award. To order, visit www.divinekosher.com or
phone 518-344-1190. Please note that this is NOT the phone number to order
hamantaschen or your mishloach manot baskets. You'll have to make them
Easy dough's it! So roll up your sleeves, put on your
apron, gather your helpers and start baking. Fill up those Purim baskets
with these tasty triangles and other no-bake treats listed below. Chag
COOKIE DOUGH HAMENTASCHEN
As Purim approaches, Jewish bakers around the world make
their version of Haman's pockets. At Congregation Agudat Achim, a large
baking crew gathers annually to bake 4,000 hamantaschen, to fill mishloach
manot package orders.
1 cup butter for dairy (use margarine for
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon baking
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
Flour for rolling
Prune, poppy seed, apricot, raspberry, cherry, or Double Chocolate Filling
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease cookie sheets.
2. Cream butter or margarine and sugar at medium speed with
electric mixer. Beat in 2 eggs, vanilla and juice.
3. Combine baking powder and salt with flour and gradually add to creamed mixture.
Dough will be sticky.
4. Divide dough into 4 balls and cover with plastic wrap. Chill 4 hours.
5. Roll each ball on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut 3-inch circles with cookie
6. Beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush rim of
circle with egg wash and place 1 teaspoon of filling in center. Pinch
edges together to form triangle, leaving center open slightly to expose
7. Place on sheets and bake 15 to 18 minutes until lightly
browned. Freezes well.
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE FILLING
4 ounces dairy or pareve pound or chiffon cake
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa, sifted
1 tablespoon butter
for dairy, melted (use margarine for pareve)
1 large egg yolk
teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1/3 cup chocolate mini chips
1. Process cake into
fine crumbs and mix in sugar and cocoa. Add butter or margarine.
2. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Add chocolate syrup and juice. Fold in
3. Fill hamantaschen or other cookies, strudel or Danish.
CHOCOLATE-DIPPED PEANUT BALLS
A marriage made in heaven - chocolate-dipped peanut balls. These no-bake
cookies are an easy crowd pleaser.
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup ground walnuts
1 cup finely chopped dates
2 cups chocolate chips
1. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Cream peanut butter with sugar at medium speed with
electric mixer and add walnuts and dates.
3. Shape into balls, using 1 1/2 teaspoons dough per cookie.
4. Melt chocolate chips and keep over container of hot water.
5. Dip balls into chocolate and place on sheet. Chill to set.
Yield: 48 balls.
AN EDIBLE COOKIE BOWL
Your cookie jar will never be empty with this
clever edible. It can also be used to hold candy, fruit and ice cream.
Make any size or shape, as long as you use an ovenproof container. What a
wonderful idea for a child's birthday party, and as a house or teacher's
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Wrap outside of ovenproof loaf pan
or mixing bowl with foil. Grease foil.
2. Prepare favorite roll-out cookie dough and roll to 1/8-inch thickness.
3. Cut shapes with
decorative edge cookie cutter. When using a loaf pan, use a
cookie cutter. Smaller containers require smaller cutters.
4. Cover prepared pan or bowl with cutouts, overlapping them slightly. Bake upside
down until cookies are firm. Cool.
5. Lift cookie bowl from container carefully and peel away foil. Freezes well.
The exhilarating duo of fragrant peppermint
and sweet chocolate combine to make these patties truly flavorful but they
owe their texture to a secret ingredient that will amaze everyone - read
2 1/2 tablespoons mashed baked potato (nothing added)
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons mint extract
1 recipe pareve Dipping Chocolate (recipe below)
1. Prepare ungreased cookie sheet covered with parchment or wax paper.
2. Cream cooled potato, sugar and extract at medium speed with electric mixer to form
dough. Add water, 1/4 teaspoon at a time, as needed, until mixture holds
3. Form into quarter-size patties and place on sheet.
Chill 10 minutes.
4. Dip each patty into Dipping Chocolate using a
candy fork or plastic fork, allowing excess chocolate to drip off. Place
on sheet, chill to set, about 30 minutes. Chilling is essential.
Yield: 24 patties.
(Pareve or Dairy)
1 cup pareve chocolate chips (use dairy chocolate chips for dairy)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1. Melt chocolate with oil in a microwaveable container for 30 seconds. Stir. Continue to
microwave for additional 30 second intervals, stirring each time.
2. Stop melting when a few small chunks are visible. Stir until smooth.
PARTY CAKE CONES
These cake cones are always a hit with the youngsters. No forks or plates make
for quick cleanup. Be careful placing the cones in the oven; they may
wobble. Don't worry if the batter drips out of the cones while baking. It
looks like melted ice cream. Use nondairy ingredients for a pareve
1 cake mix yielding 5 1/2 cups batter
24 flat-bottomed ice cream cones
16 ounces prepared frosting
Sprinkles and candy decorations
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare ungreased muffin tins.
2. Prepare cake mix as directed on package.
3. Fill ice cream cones with batter to 1 inch from top. Place cones in muffin
tins, spacing them so they do not touch each other. Bake 23 to 25 minutes
or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.
4. Frost and decorate with sprinkles and candy.
Yield: 24 cones.
MERINGUE BAKED PECANS
These glazed pecans are a delicious crunchy topping for
leafy green vegetable or fruit salads. Pack them in an attractive
container for gift giving.
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter for dairy, melted (use margarine for pareve)
1 pound pecan halves
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease cookie sheet.
2. Beat whites until stiff. Combine cinnamon, salt and sugar and add to whites.
3. Fold in melted butter or margarine and pecans. Spread
mixture on sheet and bake 15 minutes.
4. Turn nuts over and toast on other side, about 15 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid
Any leftover glazed pecans may be frozen in a plastic bag.
Yield: 2 1/4 cups.
here for Norene's review of Divine™ Kosher Cuisine.
© Divine™ Kosher Cuisine