Pastry from US West Coast wins JC’s hamantaschen contest

Sephardi-inspired parmesan and spinach recipe will now feature in Carmelli Bakery’s Purim range


It wasn’t sweet, as tradition suggests it should be, but one filling wowed the judges of the JC’s 
Instagram hamantaschen competition above all others: parmesan 
and spinach.

The person behind the winning pastry, US-based Jessica Hoffman, said she was inspired by Sephardi recipes: “Seattle, where I grew up and now live with hubby and three kids, has a major Greek and Turkish Sephardic community. Though I’m Ashkenazi, I’ve always had lots of Sephardi friends and loved scoring invites to their houses on Shabbat for food. Especially for bulemas (Spanish stuffed dough spirals), which are made with plenty of spinach, parmesan, and cheeses.

“Throwing spinach and cheese into a savoury hamentashen dough and topping it with parmesan sounded like a dream. I highly recommend including feta in your cheese-spinach mixture!”

She says she discovered the JC online via mutual contacts on Twitter and says “the hamentashen discourse gets better and better every year. Jewish Twitter has a way of bringing Jews of all denominations from all over the world together to faux fight over Jewish food and I absolutely love it.”

Ms Hoffman’s tasty treat was one of only two non-sweet entries and a stand-out winner with the judges, JC editor Stephen Pollard and food editor Victoria Prever.

“It was great to have something a bit different — it’ll be perfect with Purim cocktails,” said Mrs Prever.

Jonathan Robinson of Carmelli Bakery, was also wowed by the veggie-based variety. “I can’t remember doing a non-sweet filling before. It will be particularly good for this year with Purim falling ahead of Shabbat. A lot of people will go for a milky seudah, and this will give them a chance to be more adventurous.”

Ms Hoffman’s invention narrowly beat the shortlisted suggestions that included cheesecake; salted caramel; cookies and cream; almond frangipane, and chocolate and whisky. More outlandish flavours on the long list of entries included fig and rosemary; lemon curd and lavender, chocolate and black garlic.

The Yavneh Primary pupils took their task seriously — awarding scores out of ten to each filling. Their winner was chocolate and whisky, with the cheesecake their second choice.

But casting vote went to Mr Robinson, who said the parmesan and spinach was “very easy on the palette”.

He told the JC that Carmelli bakers used a boreka-style dough to encase the tasty spinach and cheese filling, and are planning on offering it in two different sizes. “We made a canape-sized mouthful for judging, but will do a larger version, more like a boreka, for sale in the bakery.”

The winning hamantaschen will be on sale from Monday 22 February, in time for Purim festivities alongside more traditional fillings.


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