hamentaschenYes, it’s Purim.

Unless you’re Stu (my voice to text software), in which case it’s either pour him, query him, Kareem or, weirdly, Putin.

Stu doesn’t speak Hebrew. And we have some commute Haitian (communication) problems aside from that… but I actually like him more than I let on.

Anyway, poor aim! I mean, Purim! Cut it out, Stu. You know I hate to type.

Here’s what you need to know about Purim.

Unless you’re racking your brain trying to remember the plot of “Home for Purim” in For Your Consideration, I’ll just assume you have no idea what I’m talking about and go from there.

Purim is my absolute favorite holiday. Ever.

It involves getting dressed up in costumes, screaming at the top of your lungs and getting drunk. It’s basically Roller Derby, with cookies.

It’s also got some pretty good themes. Identity. Speaking your truth. Salvation. Memory. And I already mentioned the cookies.

Also I was born right after Purim. And if you’re about to point out that my birthday was a couple of days ago and Purim is right now, let me just add that the Hebrew calendar is interesting lunar.

So… since Selma and I are going to be spending the day in costume, screaming and going on cookie delivery runs with my gentleman friend, I thought I would share with you some rambling software-dictated thoughts and my mother’s amazing hamentaschen recipe.

My mother’s hamentaschen: are better than yours.

But of course first I have to share with you Stu’s interpretation of “hamentaschen”.

My favorite so far is “Hmmm passion”, which kind of sums up how I feel about them. I’m also a fan of “how men fashion”, even though it makes no sense. Unless it’s a snippet of Dickens.

And “Hahnemann Cassian”? Sheer genius.

Moving on. I can’t actually eat ham and passion hamentaschen because they have sugar in them and I can’t eat sugar.

But I can lick the spoon of the all-fruit-filling and then dance around the room on a crazy high and collapse on the floor laughing, which is what I did yesterday. Oh, the fun that is my life.

Okay, hamentaschen. It means Haman’s pockets or Haman’s purse in Yiddish. Or if you prefer the Hebrew version? Haman’s ears.

Forget about etymology. My mother’s are the best in the entire world.

I may have alluded yesterday to her weird tendency to jump to bizarre conclusions, but what’s a bizarre conclusion, really, compared to exceptionally good hamentaschen?

If you’re thinking meh, hamentaschen, that’s because you’ve had the fat, doughy, flour-ey kind. This is something different. Entirely different.

So, between me, my mother and Stu, I’m going to make sure you get the recipe.

The whole recipe, complete with parts of our phone conversation when she gave it to me, and with Stu’s charming interlocutions, because it’s that kind of day. Let the hilarity ensue. Also, a bunch of people on Twitter asked me for it.

The recipe.

Getting started.

My mother: You can make them dairy or you can also not make them dairy, if you’re not eating dairy. I can’t keep track of what you’re not eating.
Me: I’ll make them dairy.
My mother: You don’t have to.
Me: I’m going to.

The dough.

You will love this dough! It’s super easy-to-work-with-mooshable cookie dough type dough.

Oooh, and before you even start reading the ingredients, take the butter out of the refrigerator right now. You’ll thank me later.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter = 1 stick (room temperature-ish)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (this is my little tweak, I like the consistency better and my gentleman friend likes the taste)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder (“Not soda, you’ll ruin it!”)
  • 2 Tsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla (here we go again) or almond extract

Here’s what you do:

  1. cream butter with sugar
  2. add egg and stir
  3. stir the flour and the baking powder together
  4. you add half of flour mixture and then all of o.j. and vanilla. And mix well.
  5. add the remaining flour mixture and you end up with either a roll or a patty.
  6. divide into two balls of dough and chill several hours or overnight.

My mother: The dough can be refrigerated up to a week.
Me: I’m making them today.
My mother: Up to a week.
Me: Good to know.

The filling

  • several handfuls of uncooked dried figs
  • a few handfuls of raisins (golden or regular)
  • a couple shakes of cinnamon

Cover the fruit with water and bring to boil.

Cook on low heat until all squooshy. It takes a while. Maybe an hour.
Add cinnamon towards the end. Remove. Cool.

Since I usually refrigerate the dough for several hours or overnight, I stick the pot of fruit goo into the refrigerator as well.

My mother: You could also add just one small apple. You can chop it, grind it or grate it.
Me: No, I’m just a mistake with exaggerations. Scratch that. That was Stu. What I meant to say was no, I’m just going to stick with the raisins.
My mother: Just a small one. It adds texture.
Me: Okay.
My mother: I add 2 teaspoons of honey. But you don’t eat honey.
Me: Okay.
My mother: You can add cinnamon and nuts too. Or a teaspoon of lemon juice and a half a cup of chopped nuts. Or use dates. Or prunes. And throw in some walnuts.
Me: Okay.
My mother: Never mind, if you don’t like it, why don’t you just make them with jam?
Me: Not so into the jam.
My mother: Apricot is best for jam.
Me: Okay.

Yes, we have some commute Haitian problems. I know. But she’s lovely and I adore her and she makes some mean hamentaschen.

The actual cookie making part

Here’s what you do:

  • Spread waxed paper over the counter and sprinkle some flour around artistically. Take a chunk of dough and roll it out.
  • Use a glass to cut perfect circles in the dough. Take a spoonful of the fruit filling and place it in the center of your flat circle.
  • Use your thumb and forefinger to roll up the edges on three sides. Then pinch the corners together and you have a little triangle.
  • Butter a baking sheet and load it up with hamentaschen. They’ll spread a little but not too much.
  • Bake at 350 until they’re delicately brown at corners and undersides. Somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes.

My mother: You forgot to say that they can also be frozen in layers in an aluminum pie tin.
Me: Are you kidding? These are the best cookies in the entire world. They’re not going to stick around. We’ll deliver some in mishloach manot to Mark and Dana and Shannon. And then Ez and my gentlemen friend will take care of the rest. I bet they’re all gone by tomorrow.
My mother: Don’t forget to put waxed paper between the layers when you pack them.
Me: Okay.

I actually have more to tell you about celebrating Purim — like the crazy, hippie synagogue we ended up at where they actually had a song called “I love my big Jew frog”. I so wish that I had just made that up. Or that Stu had made that up.

Alas, no. But that will have to wait until Friday.

Happy Purim, in the meantime. Or Putin. Eat a cookie for me or something.

The Fluent Self