As the sun sets tonight the Jewish holiday of Purim begins. I wonder if my grandmother ever made hamantashen cookies with her Aunt Rose who owned a tea room in Amarillo in the early nineteen-hundreds. My great-grandfather Godfrey Baum, a grocery merchant, surely stocked the traditional Purim cookies at his stores Baum’s Helpy-Selfy. Although, I can’t say for sure.
There are so many bits of my family history I long to know. Stories begging to be told of the Jewish family from which I descend. Clues pour forth from family recipes, my grandmother’s poetry and short-story collection, yellowed photographs, and treasures like the Baum Family Union Prayerbook for Jewish Worship.
I’m a Jesus girl. Technically, I’m also a Jew.
Although my grandmother left the Jewish faith when she married my grandfather, our history is deeply rooted in the faith and culture. It’s one reason I’m fascinated with Old Testament feasts and holidays. Purim, or the Feast of Lots, commemorates the deliverance of the Persian Jews from one of the most horrific plots in history to exterminate the Jewish people. Although not a high holiday, Purim is one of the most joyous and festive celebrations on the Jewish calendar.
The story of Purim is told in the Bible in the Book of Esther. The Littles know the story well and last night Ellie retold the heroic tale of Esther’s courage while the other children ‘boo-ed’ loud every time the villain Haman’s name was mentioned. It made for a lively dinner conversation as we dove headfirst into Scripture wondering what it must have been like to be Esther, Mordacai, and even mean-old Haman. Dessert was, of course, the traditional Hamantashen cookie. Tasty cookies shaped in a triangle to represent a hat Haman might have worn are filled with with a fruit or chocolate mixture. I filled our versions with Nutella and apricot preserves. In addition to the hat, Jews often attribute the meaning of three points of the cookies to honor the fathers of the faith – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Anna smiled and offered that our cookies could represent the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
No big surprise the Littles preferred the Nutella filled cookies.
Personally, I loved the apricot preserves. These sweet morsels of history tell a story of tears and triumph.
Taste and see that the Lord is good, friends!
Hamantashen Cookies for Purim
Filled with your choice of fruit fillings, preserves, or chocolate, these traditional Purim cookies are festive and delicious.
- For the dough:
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon Mexican vanilla
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting surface)
- For the filling:
- Apricot preserves
- In a standing mixer, beat eggs and sugar until well combined. Add ingredients one at a time, slowing the speed of the mixer when adding the flour.
- When dough is well combined, divide in half and wrap both halves in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.
- On a floured surface roll out one half of the chilled dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut with a 3 -inch cutter (I used a jelly jar). Fill each round dough with a heaping teaspoon of filling. Fold first two edges up and pinch together to form the top of the triangle. Bring the bottom part of the circle up to meet the other two edges and pinch together.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until edges are just beginning to brown.
- Makes about 30 large hamantashen cookies.