I've never enjoyed hamantaschen. I eat one every year and stop there. They’ve never been my thing. Especially not the biscuity ones.
This year something changed. A lovely Israeli chef friend — Amir Battito — shared his recipe with me. When he lived in Tel Aviv, he made 100’s of them — a professional hamantascher.
“Trust me” he said with that confident sabra swagger. “Everybody loves them. It’s the BEST recipe you’ll ever try.”
Hard sell. I was unconvinced — especially as my last batch of the triangular treats had left me underwhelmed.
Nonetheless, I gave it a go. I also read an entry from US kosher food blogger Tori Avey to ensure my technique was up to scratch.
As usual, I had little time to make them. I'd decided to knock up a batch to take to my son’s class the next day. I'd been invited in to talk to them about working as a journalist but, petrified at the thought of appearing in front of 30 eight year olds, felt the need to take a little
bribe incentive to keep them on side. As my talk was just before Purim, hamantaschen an the obvious choice.
With no time to mess about, I needed Amir's recipe to work. It read more sable (a fine French pastry) than shortcrust as it uses icing sugar, but perhaps that’s the secret. It was easy to prepare — he'd said simply to mix all the ingredients together. No fiddly pastry techniques there. It worked fine.
Once the dough had enjoyed a little rest in the fridge it was time to roll it out. Avey advises getting them really thin, so I mine was no more than 0.3cm thick. (I even got the ruler out to be sure.) A handy shot glass made a decent cutter.
I used a variety of fillings – mostly on account of only having limited jam left in my fridge. The end of a jar of apricot; some apple jam (leftover from a Rosh Hashanah recipe test); and, when they ran out, some crumbled up chocolate bars. Turns out they don’t melt very well. After some digging in my kitchen stores I found a few cubes of Turkish Delight, which made a more grown up filling and looked jewel-like in their triangular wrapper.
Avey's instructions for folding the dough around the filling were immaculate and I was able to stretch almost 70 biscuits from one quantity of dough. After 12 minutes in the oven, they were crisp and golden. Light, with a perfect balance of biscuit to filling and a lovely crunch. A revelation. I wasn't able to stop at one.
The children loved them too. I keep getting messages from the mothers of my son’s classmates telling me how much they enjoyed theirs and asking for the recipe.
To hamantaschen everywhere, my apologies.