Comfort food. Isn’t that what we all need right now? There are no words that can possibly express my sorrow for those who are suffering the loss of the shootings in Colorado. It’s heart wrenching, gut wrenching and mind boggling. There’s no sense to make of it and makes us question so much. And it makes this helicopter mom want to hover and dictate her childrens’ lives that much more even though I know logically that does not work.
So instead, I usually bake or eat, or both. What is comfort food for you? Is it something elaborate your grandmother used to cook that would stew for hours while you sat in her kitchen, or is it something as easy as a grilled cheese sandwich with the peel and stick Kraft slices you made in your dorm room with an iron and a flat surface? I guess comfort food depends on your culture, how you were raised and what truly soothes your soul.
For me, I think of potato pancakes. Nothing truly beats my mother’s hot stack of potato pancakes, freshly made apple sauce, a big slab of butter and a huge dollop of sour cream.
These Hamantaschen could very well have been my comfort food of choice if I had had any left this weekend. We actually made them last week on a whim when my daughter suggested choosing two cookbooks and randomly opening them to two different recipes. This Hamantaschen was the one we chose to make, and I am so glad we did.
I grew up eating them now and then when my dad’s cousin would share a batch with us. They are a traditional triangular cookie served during Purim (for more information please see The Shiksa’s site). The texture is delicate and tender and the taste is sweet and, depending on the filling you choose, it can be fruity, a bit savory (poppy seeds) or even chocolaty.
It’s a fairly labor intensive cookie, and, mind you, that’s coming from a girl who thinks Rugelach is a snap to whip up. But it’s a very rewarding cookie to make. Hamantaschen tastes special and different and is totally worth it’s laborious creation. And for me, right now, it would be the perfect something or other to have lying around the kitchen when I need a bite of comfort. Maybe, I need to bake up another batch…
Taken from The All-American Cookie Cookbook by Nancy Baggett
Makes approximately 36 cookies
3 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 c. canola oil
3/4 c. sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
2 t. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 t. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 t. Vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 T. water
1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped dried apricots
1/3 c. golden raisins
1/2 c. clover or other mild honey
1/4 c. apricot jelly or orange marmalade
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. water
To make the dough: In a food processor, combine the flour through the baking soda. Pulse a few times until mixed together. Sprinkle the butter chunks over the flour mixture and pour the oil over the flour mixture. Pulse on/off until mixture comes together and looks like course meal.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the sugar, egg and egg white, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla until well blended. Pour the liquid mixture over the flour mixture and process on/off pulses until it is evenly combined. Scrape down the sides when needed.
On a floured pastry board, bring the dough together and divide into three parts. Roll each third between two pieces of wax paper and roll out until 1/8 inch thick. Stack the three rolled parts on top of one another on a baking sheet (keeping the wax paper in between each layer of dough). Refrigerate for 1 hour or longer…depending on how long it takes you to make the filling. The filling needs to refrigerate for one hour as well.
While the cookie dough is refrigerating, make the filling: In a medium, heavy, nonreactive (ceramic coated works well) saucepan, stir together chopped dried apricots, raisins, honey, marmalade, cinnamon and 1/2 c. water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring every so often, until the dried fruit is soft and the water is almost absorbed…about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Let cool slightly and then put the mixture in a food processor and process until coarsely pureed. Cover and refrigerate the filling for one hour.
When the filling and the dough are ready, take out one layer of the dough only and peel away the wax paper. Take out the filling as well. Line tw0 cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Using a 2.5-3 inch round cookie cutter, cut out the round circles from the dough. Place round circle on a clean plate or floured work area and put a teaspoon of filling in the center of the circle. Imagine your circle in three equal sections.
Fold one of the sections in as shown below, making the top of the fold aim towards the center, to help create a triangle later.
Fold the opposite side to form a point, making a wide base of the triangle at the bottom. Fold the bottom third up.
Pinch the corners of the triangle side ways, thumb to index finger (not up and down). The sides “squish” in. Place on a cookie sheet 1.5 inches apart from one another. Roll out the remaining portion of dough from this first sheet of dough and repeat. Once the entire sheet of dough is rolled and cut out, beat one egg with one T. of water. Hold one cookie in your hand and brush the cookie with the egg wash. Place it back down on the sheet and take the next cookie. IF you brush them on the cookie sheet, you will end up with burnt egg smell from the overspill of the egg wash onto the parchment. Bake for 14 minutes and while those are baking, start on your second sheet of dough.
The cookies should be barely golden brown. If your oven cooks unevenly, turn the cookie sheet around half way through the baking time. Cool the cookies for about 5 minutes and then carefully transfer them to a cooling wrack until cool.