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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hamentaschen (Jewish Purim Holiday Cookies)--Flavorful Shortbread Cookies with Delicious Poppy Seed Filling--

Hi everyone!

Miami is a total dessert when it comes to American bakeries.  Finding good American pastries period was virtually impossible, unless you went to a super duper high end restaurant to get them there.  Sometimes you just want some good, simple, homestyle yummies.  Luckily, I discovered a total goldmine for good ol' homestyle American pastries after they catered my work orientation.  That place was Joanna's Marketplace, which happened to be within a mile of my house!  When I lived in Miami, Joanna's was my go-to when I was craving a taste of home.  They had things like cookies, whoopie pies, fruit tarts, tiramisu, and many other beloved pastries that weren't exactly American, but were standard fare at American bakeries ;).  

One not-so-standard pastry just happens to be what I fell in love with--hamentaschen (HAH men tah shin)!!! I had neither seen nor heard of these delectable treats before moving to Miami.  In fact, I didn't even have a clue how to pronounce them.  I'd just go in and ask for a poppy seed pastry.  "Which one?"  "The one that starts with "h."  I craved them that badly!!  Well, what on EARTH is hamentaschen for goodness sake, DF?!  They are amazing shortbread cookies filled with a variety of fillings from poppy seed to apricot to date walnut.  Poppy seed was my treat of choice.  

They were so darn simple but so amazingly, craveably delicious!  They weren't overly sweet, but were still very flavorful.  And, no, the poppy seed flavor in this dish is nothing at all like poppy seed bagels.  I even remember being almost certain that they somehow managed to get coconut into that filling because they were so rich in flavor, but it turns out that that wasn't the case at all.  It's just poppy seed, honey, citrus zest, a splash of citrus juice, and that's it.  The flavor is like nothing you've ever had before, but it is oh so good!  They may not look as amazing as I say, but trust me, they are!  Soon just the sight of them will make your mouth water, just like it does for me :)!

Just as proof.  Here's a quote of what went down this morning when I gave one to my neighbor at work to try.  This is what she said as she was eating her hamentaschen.

"Hm, this is different...It's kinda weird but good. Hey, this is REALLY good.  I never knew poppy seed could taste like this.  It tastes nothing like a poppy seed bagel.  Hm, I really like this!  What's in it?!"



Yum, yum, yum, all done :)!!

*Makes about 20 cookies

1/2 cup of blue poppy seeds, ground into a food processor (found at Target or a European market)
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of honey
1/3 c sugar
1.5 TB of butter
2 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon or equiv. amount lime and orange zest combined
2 TB lemon juice or orange juice
dash of salt

2.5 cups of flour
1 stick of cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 eggs, beaten + 1 for egg wash (mix with 1 TB of water)
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of half an orange
1 TB of yogurt or sour cream 
1 tsp of orange juice
1/2 cup of sugar
1 pinch of salt


1. Mix all ingredients and boil over medium heat until thick
2. Refrigerate and cool before filling

1. Preheat oven to 350 
2. Cut butter into flour
3. Beat in all ingredients, *except zest*, until homogeneous
4. Add in citrus zest 
5. Form a ball, cover with plastic and refrigerate for an hour
6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, leaving it somewhat thick (~ 1/4")
7. Use a glass to cut the dough into 3" circles
8. Fill each circle with 1 tsp of filling (do NOT overfill) and place on a greased baking sheet
9. Fold the corners into a triangle, using water to seal the edges
10. Brush with egg wash
11. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes to 15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom (the dough will still be fairly white on top)

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