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The Fresser

Finding a new flavour to celebrate Purim with fig and halva hamantaschen

Last year I was converted from hamantaschen-hater to freely fressing them whenever I can. Here is this year's triangular treat.

    I think of Purim as Pesach's Shrove Tuesday.

    It's our chance to use up plenty of chometz before Pesach's floury fast, and I love nothing more than inventing delicious ways to de-flour my storecupboards and relieve my fridge of jams, curds and other spreads. 

    The dough must be fine and crumbly though, and the recipe that converted me is from lovely Israeli chef, Amir Batito. It was light, biscuity and melt-in-the-mouth crumbly. More like French patisserie than the hefty versions I’d been dissing.

    I still cannot abide traditional poppy seed though. This year's filling was inspired by a jar of fig jam in my fridge, which I thought would work well with the sesame smoothness of halva. But how to make the crumbly confection spreadable? Answer: make your own version. Four parts tahini and one part honey stirred together and you have a halva spread perfect for filling hamantaschen. Serve with a few dried figs, crumbled halva and a cup of rose tea for a Middle Eastern Purim treat worthy of Queen Esther’s Persian palace.

    Makes: 25 approximately

    Ingredients:

    300g plain flour, plus extra for rolling

    165g unsalted butter, softened

    65g icing sugar

    50g cream (yes, weigh it)

    1 egg yolk

    50g fig jam

    60ml tahini

    1 tbsp clear honey

    a pinch of sea salt

    Optional:

    Crumbled halva and dried figs (to serve)

    Method:

    • Mix all the dough ingredients together until they come together. Cut the ball in half, and flatten it to form two discs. Wrap each in cling film and refrigerate for about an hour.
    • Make your halva spread by mixing the tahini, honey and salt in a small bowl. If it is very thick, add a a drop or two of  water – taking care not to add too much or it will become too liquid.
    • When the dough is firm, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the first piece to about 2-3mm thick. It’s important to keep it thin or the hamantaschen will be too chunky once folded.
    • Cut out circle of 6 – 7cm – the smaller circles will make more.
    • Smear a little halva spread and a little jam on each circle – no more than about a teaspoon of the two combined, or it will be awkward to fold and ooze out when baking.
    • To assemble hamantaschen I do this:
      1. take the left side of the circle and fold it towards the centre to make a flap that covers the left third of the circle.
      2. take the opposite side of the circle and fold it towards the centre, overlapping the upper part of the left side flap to create a triangular tip at the top of the circle. You should be able to see a small triangle of filling in the middle.
      3. fold the bottom part of the circle upwards to create a third flap and complete the triangle. When you fold this flap up, tuck the left side of this new flap underneath the left side of the triangle, while letting the right side of this new flap overlap the right side of the triangle.
      This way, each side of your triangle has a corner that folds over and a corner that folds under-- it creates a "pinwheel" effect. This has the benefit of not only looking pretty, but also keeping the hamantaschen from unfolding during the bake. Here is our step-by-step tutorial on how to fold the triangles.
    • Place the raw hamantaschen on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and refrigerate for 20 – 30 minutes to firm up the filling and dough and preheat your oven to 180°C (fan).
    • Bake for about 20 minutes – check they are not getting too dark – until the hamantaschen are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
    • Serve with the halva and figs, or just as they are. 
       
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