It’s Time to Give Purim the Attention It Deserves

This fun holiday calls for plenty of celebration — and delicious hamantaschen, too.

By: Amy Kritzer Becker
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Hanukkah and Passover tend to be the most popular Jewish holidays — and for good reason! The Festival of Lights has eight days of fried foods, glowing menorahs, and presents, while Passover is known for inspiring stories of freedom, celebratory Seder meals, and copious amounts of chocolate covered matzah.

But if you ask me, Purim is the most fun of all the Jewish holidays and deserves to be enthusiastically embraced, too. According to the story of Purim, years ago (around 400 BCE), the Persian queen, Esther, saved all the Jews from the murderous plot of the king’s advisor, Haman. She did so by revealing her hidden Jewish identity under the guide of her cousin, Mordechai.

Today, we celebrate Esther’s bravery with lots of fun traditions, with everything from costumes to carnivals. In addition to dressing up and throwing festivals, we boo and shake noisemakers, or groggers, when Haman’s name is mentioned. Plus, we give back by donating to charities and sharing mishloach manot, or Purim gift baskets filled with snacks, to friends and family.

Of course, no Purim celebration is complete without plenty of food and drinks. The story of Purim tells us to (legally) imbibe until we cannot distinguish the evil Haman from the hero, Mordechai. And, last but certainly not least, are the hamantaschen.

Purim is pretty much synonymous with hamantaschen. These triangular shaped cookies, representing the fashionable three-cornered hat Haman was known to sport, are traditionally filled with apricot, poppy seed or prune. Though popular, the cookies tend to be plagued by a less-than-stellar reputation. They are known to be dry, with fillings that leave something to be desired. That’s why, for a holiday as glorious as Purim, I wanted to make an Esther-worthy hamantaschen.

I started thinking of my favorite flavor combinations and recalled the appropriately named Millionaire’s Shortbread. Buttery shortbread, topped with a layer of caramel and a coating of chocolate — what could be better than that?

To transform this concept into hamantaschen, I tweaked my classic dough recipe by adding more butter, replacing granulated sugar with powdered and by using an egg yolk in place of a whole egg. These changes ensure a tender, rich cookie that’s reminiscent of a classic shortbread.

Then I prepared my favorite easy caramel for the filling and chilled it until perfectly scoopable. Once filled, I topped each cookie with a chocolate glaze that hardens as it cools for the perfect hamantaschen bite. And, to really capture the royal theme, I decorated the cookies with a little edible gold leaf.

This recipe has a few parts, but feel free to divide the steps. The dough and caramel can easily be prepared a day ahead of time, then baked and filled the next day. However you choose to bake the hamantaschen, make sure you freeze the dough before baking. In addition to keeping the cookies from leaking, this step will ensure that your cookies are the perfect Haman-hat shape. It’s the hamantaschen Esther deserves — and your friends and family will love them, too!

Amy Kritzer Becker is the founder of the modern Jewish cooking blog What Jew Wanna Eat and author of the 2016 cookbook Sweet Noshings. She is also the owner of the cool Jewish gifts store ModernTribe. After a stint in NYC as a conference producer, Amy moved to Austin, TX to escape cold weather. Soon after, Amy left the business world to attend culinary school to work on her true passion. As she worked as a personal chef and did live cooking demos and classes at a local supermarket, her blog grew and gained recognition. Amy has had the opportunity to develop recipes, such as Avocado Latkes Breakfast Tacos or Pumpkin Fig Rugleach for numerous publications and she has spoken on the topics of culture, entrepreneurship, and food at events around the world like SXSW and Nosh Berlin. Amy and her recipes have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The Today Show, Food & Wine and now The Food Network. In Fall 2017, she appeared on an episode of Guy’s Grocery Games on The Food Network. Amy lives in Puerto Rico with her husband.

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