The Jewish holiday of Purim often falls around my birthday. To most people, Purim and hamantaschen are synonymous. Little do people outside of New York know, Purim is the jewish halloween. You dress up, you get drunk, you eat hamantaschen -- it's basically the best holiday that nobody celebrates. It is one of those holidays that I always aspire to celebrate, but typically just end up making hamantaschen for my birthday party. I pretend it's a Purim party, but have yet to convince my friends that the dressing up is the best part of the holiday. We're too old for that now, apparently. Remember back in college when we dressed up in silly costumes for any occasion? Those days are long gone.
The only time I actually celebrated Purim was senior year of college. Hillel had a new young orthodox rabbi, and one of my friends was becoming more religious. He brought me to this party and I had no idea what was going on. I was too self-conscious to wear a costume, so someone handed me a Mardi Gras-style mask as I entered. We sat at large banquet tables and drank red wine until we didn't know who was Mordechai (the good guy) or Haman (the bad guy and hamantaschen's namesake), while a few members of the party re-enacted the story of Purim, which I will not bore you with.
The idea behind these is loosely based on the halva and jam hamantaschen by Molly Yeh. I typically prefer traditional poppy (mohn) cookies, but I had a jar of japanese sesame paste in my fridge that i needed to use up, so I decided to try her recipe. The halva seemed a bit too runny and not quite sweet enough for a cookie, so I added in some powdered sugar to make little playdough-textured balls of sesame goodness. The dough is based on The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Rodin. This time I made 3 different hamantaschen doughs and hers won out. She creams her butter and sugar in a stand mixer, but I like using the food processor to get a flakier cookie.
makes about 24 cookies
For the dough:
1 3/4 cup (250g) flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
150g butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
2-3 teaspoons milk, if necessary
1. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and run for 10 seconds to combine.
2. Sprinkle the cubed butter, egg yolk, and vanilla over the top of the flour mixture and pulse until it barely comes together in a ball. A few straggler crumbs are okay.
3. If the mixture does not form a ball, add milk 1 teaspoon at a time, pulsing between additions, until the dough barely comes together. If there are a few dry crumbs left in the bowl, press them into the ball and knead once or twice to incorporate.
4. Place 2 pieces of plastic wrap on your counter and divide the dough into 2 balls. Flatten dough and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
5. Between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, roll out to 1/8’’ and cut with a 2.5’’ cookie cutter.
6. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each circle and press 1 side together to make a single point. Pinch hard to close.
7. Take the side of the circle opposite the point and fold upwards. Pinch the sides of the fold to create your final 2 points. Don't be afraid to pinch hard. You don't want them to fold in the oven.
8. Sprinkle black sesame seeds over the top.
For the filling:
1 cup sesame paste or tahini
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1. Mix together sesame paste, honey, powdered sugar, and salt.