This all started when I received a request to write a hamantaschen recipe.
“Another hamantaschen recipe?” I thought.
The story of Purim, as we know, takes place in Shushan, Persia and chronicles the amazing story of our Semitic heroine, Esther, who wins the love and respect of the king, thereby sealing her position as queen, and subsequently saving the Jewish people from extermination at the hands of Haman, the king’s Grand Vizier.
It’s a nice story, full of twists, turns, and very subtle miracles. We observe a minor fast and a holiday centered around this story, and many of us celebrate this holiday by exchanging baskets of triangular shaped cookies called hamantaschen, named thus, presumably, for Haman’s triangular hat.
Again, a nice idea, but triangular cookies with jam are about as Persian as Chop Suey is Chinese. If one strives for authenticity, throw a kebab into that Purim basket.
I asked around. It turns out that not everybody reacts positively to a skewer of meat in their Purim basket. So, here we are, back to triangular cookies.
While begrudgingly attempting to piece together a recipe I wrote about seven years ago, scrawled across a few post-its, marginal notes, and chicken scratches (It was a very Talmudic-written recipe), I realized that there is, indeed, a point to these seemingly mismatched cookies.
The story of Esther is a story all too many of us understand: of adopting a foreign culture, yet remaining true to who we are, never forgetting where we come from, or what’s important to us. So, why not a European-style cookie for Purim? Why not a Jewish queen of Persia?
Esther would approve.
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, chilled
- 1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
Honey Walnut Filling:
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- generous pinch of kosher salt
- Beat butter using a hand or stand mixer. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar, salt, and baking powder until blended, followed by egg, vanilla, and lemon juice. Combine flour until a cohesive dough is formed. Do not overmix. Remove from bowl, form into a disk, and refrigerate dough at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Roll out dough to about 1/8″ thick, cut out circles, fill, and shape as desired. If a shinier, more uniform finish is desired, brush tops of cookies with egg wash before placing into the oven. Bake 12 15 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Remove from oven, and allow cookies to cool for two minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring cookies to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool completely before eating. This is for your own safety.
Combine nuts and honey until nuts are well coated, and stick together. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Drop into centers of cookies before shaping.
Allaya is a foodie and world traveler who unifies her life experiences, diverse friendships, and family history through food. Originally from Thailand, her stays and travels took her through Germany, France, England, Barbados, Nepal, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, and finally to the United States, among other places. She currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and children.