For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked forward to Purim, the Jewish holiday celebrated today that signals the time for baking hamantaschen . These triangular pastries, originally called Mohntaschen , meaning “poppy-seed pockets,” are usually filled with poppy seeds, prunes or apricot preserves.
With the beginning of the spring season, I have come up with some new fillings, taking advantage of the fresh vegetables available at local outdoor farmers’ markets. Carrots, eggplant, fennel and new potatoes are just a few of the ingredients that can be used.
Sweet baby carrots, cooked to a preserve-like consistency and combined with almonds, make a delicious dessert hamantaschen. Eggplants, at their best this time of year, make terrific marmalade filling. A cream cheese-and-raisin mixture transforms the traditional cheese danish into a Purim pastry.
Prepare several fillings in advance, then cover them with plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. When ready, get out the fillings, cut the dough, then simply fill and bake.
One way to get kids involved in the Purim celebration is to invite them into the kitchen to help bake hamantaschen . If the children are very young, prepare the cookie dough, roll it out, cut into rounds, and let them spoon the filling onto the pastry and form into triangles.
And be sure to bake enough of the hamantaschen to share with family and friends for shalach manos , the traditional Purim custom of gift giving.
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
Grated zest 1 orange
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Carrot, Eggplant- Marmalade or Cream Cheese Filling
Beat butter and sugar until well blended in bowl of electric mixer. Beat in 2 eggs and orange zest, blending thoroughly. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Blend until dough is smooth.
Transfer dough to floured board and divide into 3 to 4 portions for easier handling. Flatten each portion with palm of hand and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. With scalloped or plain cookie cutter, cut into 2 1/2-inch rounds. Place 1 teaspoon of Carrot, Eggplant-Marmalade or Cream Cheese Filling in center of each round. Fold edges of dough toward center to form triangle, leaving bit of filling visible. Pinch edges to seal.
Place hamantaschen 1/2 inch apart on lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet. Brush with beaten remaining egg. Bake at 375 degrees 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to racks to cool.
Makes about 5 dozen.
* Each Cookie Dough Hamantaschen With Carrot Filling contains about:
45 calories; 31 mg sodium; 15 mg cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 1 grams protein; 0.07 gram fiber.
* Each Cookie Dough Hamantaschen With Eggplant Marmalade Filling contains about:
52 calories; 29 mg sodium; 15 mg cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.05 gram fiber.
* Each Cookie Dough Hamantaschen With Cream Cheese Filling contains about:
58 calories; 43 mg sodium; 20 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.02 gram fiber.
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
2 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup golden raisins
Combine carrots and water in heavy saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until all liquid has evaporated, 20 to 30 minutes. Add sugar, almonds and raisins. Simmer on low heat until thick and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Cool.
Makes about 2 cups.
EGGPLANT MARMALADE FILLING
1 (1-pound) eggplant, peeled, diced
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Grated zest 1/2 lemon
Place eggplant in large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil. Boil until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Combine sugar, 2 cups water, cinnamon and nutmeg in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Add eggplant. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand 1 hour. Remove eggplant with slotted spoon. Boil syrup until thick, about 20 minutes. Add eggplant, lemon juice and zest. Boil until syrup forms into firm ball when dropped into cold water from spoon, 220 degrees on candy thermometer. Spoon into bowl and cool.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
CREAM CHEESE FILLING
1 pound cream cheese
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup golden raisins
Blend cream cheese, sugar and flour in bowl of electric mixer.
Add raisins and mix well.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Makes about 2 cups.
* Wooden charger plate and glass bowl from Patina, Redondo Beach.