What would Purim be without Hamentashen, those delectable three-cornered pastries shaped like Haman’s three-cornered hat! They come in an assortment of sizes and flavours. The filling can be enclosed in sweet yeast dough, cookie dough, flaky cream cheese pastry or even phyllo dough.
Popular fillings include poppy seeds (muhn), prunes (lekvar), dates, apricots, apples, thick jam or preserves. Fill them with a chocolate kiss (or hug!) or a spoonful of chocolate hazelnut spread. Kids love them filled with peanut butter mixed with mini chocolate chips, topped with a dab of jam.
The symbolic foods of Purim are connected with Haman and Queen Esther. To avoid breaking Kosher dietary laws, Queen Esther lived in the palace on a vegetarian diet. Poppy seeds are symbolic of Queen Esther’s three day fast. When she broke her fast at night, she ate only seeds while she prayed to G-d to repeal Haman’s decree.
Triangular-shaped foods such as cheese kreplach or challah shaped like a giant triangle, sprinkled with poppy seeds are other symbolic foods served by Ashkenaz Jews. Sephardic Jews serve Haman’s Ears – deep-fried strips of dough or kichel dipped in sugar syrup or sprinkled with icing sugar.
Mishloach manot/shalach monas (food gifts) of fruit, candy and cookies are sent to friends and family. It is considered a mitzvah to send them to the elderly and needy. This year, why not make poppy seed cookies cut in triangular shapes? A fluted pastry wheel will make them look so pretty! This dough can also be used to make traditional hamentashen.
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups flour
1/4 cup poppy seeds
additional sugar for dipping
Beat eggs with sugar, oil and orange juice until well mixed. Add baking powder, flour and poppy seeds. Mix to make a soft dough. (Can be done in the food processor.)
Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece on parchment paper (such as Chefs Select) or on a floured surface into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Cut in triangles with a fluted pastry wheel or pizza cutter. Dip each cookie lightly in sugar. Place sugar-side up on a sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden.
Makes 4 to 5 dozen