Happy Purim! Purim Sameach!
Here’s the thing: I’m not Jewish. I’m actually Roman Catholic, but Catholicism has its ancestral roots in Judaism, and Judaism has a certain mystic beauty that has always intrigued me and garnered my respect. I’ve also always felt a kind of kinship with their food history–the way their rituals and traditions have a culinary aspect that is simply understood. Last year, when the festival of Purim was happening, I collected a bunch of recipes for hamantaschen, the pastry associated with that holiday, and made it my goal to figure out my own recipe for next year’s Purim. Well, the time is upon us, and y’all, they are some good.
The story of these little cuties goes like this: in the book of Esther, Esther is the niece of Mordechai and at his request and urging, she begrudgingly enters something like a beauty contest and then becomes the wife of the king. One of the king’s ministers, Haman, is deeply anti-Semitic, and when Mordechai refuses to bow to the idol that Haman wears around his neck, Haman resolves to get permission from the king to wipe out the Jews.
Esther is the heroine of this story, however, because her uncle learns of the plan to kill the Jews, and implores her to speak to the king, but she is hesitant because anyone who enters the king’s presence without being summoned is likely to be killed. But she’s Esther, so she doesn’t just go into the presence of the king once but twice, and once she’s bent the ear of the king as to Haman’s plans, he tricks Haman into honoring Mordechai for his past heroic deeds instead of killing him and the rest of the Jews. Haman ends up meeting his end by the same means he intended for Mordechai. Then Esther and her uncle work to reverse the binding order Haman had released and save all of the Jews, which of course they do.
Because they’ve literally saved all of the Jews, the next step is obviously to party, and that’s where Purim comes in. The hamantaschen, which means “Haman’s ears,” are either in the shape of (you guessed it) Haman’s ears, which were said to have been cut off before he was hanged (I promise I’m getting to the yummy part of this soon), or the shape of his hat that he was known to wear.
Either way, the hamantasch is a delicious way to celebrate perseverance in the face of unspeakable odds, courage to stand alone in the face of evil, self-forgetfulness that places others’ well being above one’s own, and a certain feminine genius to be wily and patient even in the midst of great stakes.
Now let’s eat!
Yield: 45 hamantaschen
(adapted from The Faux Martha’s recipe for banana curd)
- 1/2 ripe pear, skinned and diced
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup pure cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- dash of cardamom
original recipe by batch & loaf
- 113g unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 100g pure cane sugar*
- 300g all-purpose flour
- 6g kosher salt
- 4g baking powder
- 2 eggs + 1 egg for egg wash
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp organic pure vanilla extract
- powdered sugar, to garnish
*I used first cut cane sugar that has a little bit of a brown sugar flavor. You might try cutting the white cane sugar with a small amount of brown sugar.
- After the pear is skinned and diced, pulse the diced pear and the lemon juice in a small food processor or blender.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar and stir well.
- Add the pear and lemon mix along with the kosher salt and the dash of cardamom to the butter mixture and stir well. Stir consistently as the mixture cooks. It will seem like the heat is too high, but just keep stirring until large bubbles start popping.
- Remove the pan from heat. Pour the mixture back into the food processor, and puree until there are no more large pieces of pear.
- Add a spoonful of the pear mixture into the egg yolk, and stir well to combine so the eggs don’t start to cook.
- Put the rest of the pear puree back into the saucepan and back on the heat. While stirring constantly, add the egg/pear mixture to the pan. Keep a close eye on the pan because the egg will help the puree begin to form into a thick curd. After a minute or two, remove the pan from heat and pour the curd into a bowl. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then put in the refrigerator while you prepare the dough.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with a hand mixer on low until just combined.
- Add eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla, and mix until just combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and kosher salt.
- Gradually add flour mixture to butter and egg mixture and mix until the dough just comes together.
- Divide the dough into 4 portions.
- Lightly flour a work space, and roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness, one portion at a time. Use a biscuit cutter (I used a 2 1/2 pastry cutter) to cut the dough into circles.
- Place the dough circles on the parchment-lined baking sheets.
- On the center of each circle, put about 1-2 tsp of the pear curd. Continue until each dough circle has pear curd.
- How to fold hamantaschen: fold in one third of the dough’s edge toward the center, until it partially covers the filling. Do the same with the other two sides, and press down the edges of the triangle to secure the dough folds.
- Using butter or an egg wash, coat each hamantasch.
- Bake for 13 minutes in pre-heated oven.
- Allow to cool completely before sprinkling with powdered sugar.