Tag Archives: Baking and Confections

Hamantashen, to fold or to pinch? (that is the question)

5 Mar

Hamantashen Cookie

Making cookies is always fun for kids but for us, these are especially exciting to make.  The familiar shape of the triangular cookies shows itself every March, it is the official cookie of Purim, a Jewish holiday geared toward the kiddos. (You definantly don’t have to be Jewish to make these!) We first tried a recipe that seemed to have good reviews but they came out too cakey, I needed another try and I knew exactly where to look for the perfect recipe.

I went straight to Claire’s old Preschool, the ECE Preschool at the Marin Osher JCC  A place where baking and kids is perfectly natural! They use tried and true recipes passed down from Bubi to Bubi and they really work.  If 100 preschoolers can make Challah or Hamantashen taste good then I know the recipes work! When I visited, the Director handed me an adorable colorful printout of the Hamantashen recipe. Let’s back up a minute, I know you are wondering what’s up with that weird name and why is the cookie shaped like a triangle?

The Origin of Hamantaschen
“Hamantaschen” is a Yiddish word meaning “Haman’s pockets.” Haman is the villain in the Purim story, which appears in the Biblical Book of Esther. In the story, Haman is the Grand Vizier of Persia and a rabid anti-Semite. When Mordechai, a Jewish member of the king’s court and relative of Queen Esther, refuses to bow down to Haman, the Grand Vizier plots to have all the Jews in the kingdom massacred. However, Queen Esther and Mordechai discover Haman’s plot and are able to foil it. In the end, Haman is executed on the gallows he planned to use on Mordechai.
Jews eat hamantaschen on Purim as part of the celebration of the holiday, which commemorates how Jews escaped Haman’s dastardly plans. One explanation for the triangular shape of these pastries is that Haman wore a three-cornered hat. (excerpt from http://judaism.about.com )
There are some other facts about Purim that the kids really love one is

There are four good deeds that people try to carry out at Purim time.

1) To hear the reading of the Megillot Ester (Book of Esther) at a group gathering. This developed into a custom several hundred years after the real event took place.

2) To enjoy an atmosphere that encourages celebration with food and drink.

3) Helping out at least two people who are less fortunate than we are (charity) by giving them gifts on the 14th of Adar.

It has also become a tradition (Machatzit Hashekel) to give 3 half-dollar coins to charity to commemorate the half-shekel given by each Jew in the time of the Holy Temple. This good deed is usually done in the synagogue.

4) Giving gifts to a friend who is not necessarily poor. These ready-to-eat gifts might take the form of a fruit basket (Shalach Monot), pastry or beverage.

The best part of Purim is the dress up, the kids dress as Esther, Hamen or any royal. Purple is often used in decoration because it is the color connected to royalty.  The celebration is kind of like Mardi Gras and Halloween all wrapped up in one, lots of sweets and lots of fun!

Now that the history part is out of the way we can get on to sweeter things..

This recipe was great to use, a parent form the school made it, I have no clue who, but thanks because it is so handy!

The traditional filling of the Hamantashen is poppy-seed but we love strawberry or apricot preserves. I also sliced up fresh strawberries and added a slice to each one for a fresh taste.  The method is much like making sugar cookies, you roll out the buttery dough and chill. The triangle starts with a circle, imagine that, stay in school kids, the wonders of math never cease! Use a cup or a round cookie cutter to cut circles, drop a bit of filling in and then from your triangle (recipe below)

Raw chocolate chip dough

I butter

There is a debate in the land of Hamantashen about the correct way to seal up the Hamantashen, to fold or to pinch. I was always a pincher but I recently tried a recipe from Cupcake Project, while her tashen looked and tasted good, her suggestion of folding was intregiung to me. Folding the dough can produce a beautiful cookie but we had problems. Our dough was cracking with each fold although our cookies came out pretty we were discouraged by the cracking.

When we used the recipe below we pinched, you may have to use some water on the dough to make it stick but the pinched ones came out perfectly! So I say, depending on the recipe, your oven and your skill level pinching may be the way to go. **Note- for gluten free see bottom of post.

Lizet’s Hamatashen Recipe

preheat oven to 350˚ƒ
4 1⁄2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together in a large bowl

3 sticks butter (1 1/2 c).
soften in a bowl
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
beat eggs in a bowl, stir in vanilla.
add eggs to flour mixture, add butter, stir, then dump on clean surface, knead briefly until sticky.divide dough in quarters.  ( I wrap and chill at this point)
roll to 1/4 inch thick on floured board.
Cut circles using a cutter or cup.
Place 1 tsp filling in center of dough.
Fold or pinch 3 sides to make a triangle.
Leave some filling showing in center. 
Bake on cookie sheet about 15 minutes.

Filling: use jam, or mix 1⁄2 lb. Prunes with 1⁄4 c. strawberry jam in a food processor. Or try making your own poppy seed filling…

Mohn (Poppy seed filling)

2 c. poppy seed, finely ground

1 egg

1/3 c. honey or sugar

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1⁄4 c. chopped nuts

Wash the seeds well, them grind them in a food processor or place the seeds in a cloth and pound them with a mallet. Mix with the remaining ingredients. chill.


Folding the dough on a cookie sheet avoids the transfer disaster.


When we made these goodies with for our third grade class we needed a gluten free recipe. I tried a pie dough mix and it was terribly unsuccessful. As you can see it the photo they were like sand and not folded or pinched, we just dug out a space for the jam..

One of the moms made up a batch of GF cookie dough from Pure Pantry sugar cookie mix and it worked really well for the Hamantashen. I only have a photo of our ugly ones because the better ones got gobbled right up!

Ugly duckling gluten free cookies


Sneak Peek at Stone’s Soup Corner

3 Jun

Announcing Edible Marin Wine Country Magazine Premiere Issue (drum roll please)

edible Marin and Wine Country Summer 2009

We here in Marin, Napa and Sonoma are thrilled to be contributing to a great new magazine. Read Stone’s Soup Corner my kid centric foodie column. See The fabulous cover that Matthew shot, and find out about seasonal foods and recipes. Grab one at your local natural foods store or farmers market, you can always subscribe. We hope you enjoy it!

Because peas are coming into season I changed this recipe to accommodate fresh peas but if you are unable to get them use frozen.

On the searing summer days of my childhood, I spent

long hours outside with other kids, playing hide

and seek, getting dirty, and making mud pies. The

moment we heard the bells of the ice cream truck, our ears

perked up in unison and we raced off to get our ice cream treat.

Now, 30-something years later, I hardly ever see an ice cream

man. Maybe it’s because grocery stores today are stocked

with so many more ice cream choices, or maybe it’s because

kids play indoors more. Whatever the reason, the summer

school break presents a great opportunity to spend time with

your kids, cooking with them and teaching them about food

and family. It should be easy to entice them into the kitchen

to help create these unique and deliciously cooling Minty

Pea Pops and Veggie Corn Pops.

They may not get to chase

the ice cream man, but they will be having fun, enjoying

their dessert, and eating their veggies, too!

Sweet Veggie Pops

A New Twist On an Old Treat

By Jenifer Carden

Minty Pea Pops

Peas on a Popsicle stick? Just tell them it tastes like mint–chocolate

chip ice cream—but these are not quite ice cream and not quite vegetable.

They are now a staple in our house—a great dessert, snack, or

treat on a hot day. Have your kids help shop for and shell the peas.

You’ll love it when your child asks for a Pea Pop! These will come out sweeter if oyu use frozen peas.

Makes 6 cube-shaped pops

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup shelled sweet English Peas (or frozen peas, thawed)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/8 to 1/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

6 Popsicle sticks or wooden craft sticks

Place the cream cheese, peas, and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl

and microwave on high for 20-second intervals until the cheese is

softened to room temperature.

Using a blender or food processor, puree these first three ingredients

into a smooth paste. Add the extract and mix again, scraping the

bowl frequently. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Place the mixture into a food grade plastic bag and cut about 1/2 inch

off of one of the bottom corners. Squeeze the puree into an ice cube

tray or mini muffin tin, place 1 Popsicle stick into each serving and

freeze until solid, about 1 hour. You may also spoon the puree into the

molds. Depending on your freezer, you may have to let them freeze for

up to 4 hours. For best results, make and freeze these overnight.

Once the pops are frozen, remove them from the molds by twisting

just like ice cubes. You may need to go around the edge with a warm

knife if you used a muffin tin. Sealed in an airtight container, these

will keep for up to 1 month.

Variation: Sprinkle a layer of graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of the ice

cube trays or muffin cups and place the corn puree on top; the result will look and

taste similar to a mini cheesecake on a stick.

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