Today is Purim on the Jewish calendar, and Jews (and non-Jewish friends and family) all over the world are celebrating this holiday. The quintessential Purim food is a cookie called Hamantaschen. They are folded into a triangle and are meant to resemble either Haman’s tri-corner hat or his ears, depending on which tradition you prefer.
This is my recipe for yujacha (Yuja/Yuzu syrup) Hamantaschen, which my Korean spin on this centuries-old Jewish favorite for our annual Purim celebration.
The first step is to make the dough. The recipe I’m using here is adapted from The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York by Claudia Roden. It is one part cookbook, one part history book, which is my favorite kind of cookbook. You will find this recipe on page 192. My commentary notes are in parenthesis.
1 3/4 cups flour
a pinch of salt (which you can omit if you use salted butter)
2 tablespoons sugar (I used brown sugar this time)
2-3 drops vanilla extract
5 ounces unsalted butter
1 egg yolk (I used the entire egg)
2-3 tablespoons of milk (which I didn’t use)
1 egg, lightly beaten, for glaze
First, mix the flour, salt, sugar and vanilla extract. Cut the butter into pieces (or simply tear it off with your very clean fingers) into the flour and rub it in. Mix in the egg and press it into a ball.
I made two batches and put both of them into a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag and put them into the refrigerator to cool. If you don’t have gallon-sized sealable plastic bags in your pantry, cover the bowl in plastic wrap and put it into your refrigerator.
While the dough is hanging out in the fridge, make your yujacha filling.
1/2 cup yujacha
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder (or cinnamon)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Mix them together well and let them blend until your dough is cool enough to leave the refrigerator. If you like you can add a cup of chopped walnuts to the mix, which would be the case in a traditional Hamantaschen recipe. I didn’t put any in this batch because a couple of my friends are allergic to treenuts.
Divide the dough into four equal segments for easier handling. Roll each piece on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin until the dough is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 3-inch rounds with a pastry cutter. Take the scraps, roll them out again and repeat the procedure until all the dough is used up.
Or you can take a lump of dough a bit bigger than a walnut and flatten the dough by pressing it in the palm of your hand, similar to how you’d made hotteok.
To shape into triangle, lift up right and left sides, leaving the bottom down and bring both side to meet at the center above the filling. Bring top flap down to the center to meet the two sides. Pinch edges together.
Arrange on a greased or non-stick tray and brush with the egg glaze.
Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15-20 minutes.
Do not try to remove the Hamantaschen while they are still hot. They may crumble. Let them cool first on the tray. Once they are cooled off, lift them very carefully with a spatula, because they are fragile.
If the results don’t resemble the tri-corner hats that were in fashion in the late 1700s, think of them as Vulcan ears. Whether they are neat and perfect or not, they taste really good. Beside, if your friends are really in the Purim spirit, they might be too drunk to care.