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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Homentaschen


We moved to Manhattan at the end of May. It was a sunny week back in 2000, and trying to get oriented, I walked around the neighborhood. I needed to discover the supermarket (big disappointment compared to the suburban mega stores with wide aisles, shiny floors and 243 varieties of Clorox), the bank, a place to buy produce, a kosher butcher, and whatever new interesting things all the little bodegas carried. I wanted to understand why there was a Duane Reade in each and every block and peeked in some delis to figure out what they were. I was taking in so much newness... 
Among my findings, I was surprised to see hamentaschen--those filled cookie triangles traditional of the Purim Jewish holiday--pretty much in all those shops (OK, not in the bank). I grew up knowing them as a seasonal and symbolic item, not as a mainstream NY food displayed together with black & white cookies and the iconic bagels. I guess it was one of my first "only in NY moments." 
Last Sunday, my friend Nancy Wolfson-Moche of "you are because you eat," invited me to teach with her a michloach manot workshop for children at her studio. These food packages, which are traditionally gifted in the Purim holiday usually contain hamentaschen. The food baskets are given to family, friends, and there's a priority to gift them to people in need, either financial or in need of a hug. It brings a bit of the festive spirit into everyone's life.
Some send lavish baskets full of bells, whistles and tissue paper, but I love making them with my kids simply using paper bags, markers, stickers and ribbon.
We all had a great time baking the hamentaschen and decorating the boxes at the workshop. It was a really fun day. 
The kids were incredibly proud and a scent of accomplishment and warm cookies perfumed the air. Of course, some hamentaschen broke, others burnt, some overflowed, but others were perfect, and all were delicious.

I created the following recipe especially for the occasion, but it's such an easy, tasty and wholesome one that I needed to share it with you. I know there's not much time, but trust me, they are really quick to whip up. Try them out for Purim, or do the NY thing and bake them any day of the year.  

HAMENTASCHEN

Dough
INGREDIENTS:          
1/2 cup (125 grams) pure maple syrup
1/2 cup (120 grams) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons (8 grams) (measured before ground) chia seeds, ground
3 cups (300 grams) gluten free whole oat flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
METHOD:
Mix maple syrup, oil, vanilla and ground chia in a large bowl by hand with a spatula. Add in oat flour and salt and mix until the dough forms.

Portion dough into 3 pieces and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 1/2 hour.

Berry filling

INGREDIENTS
1 cup frozen organic blackberries or raspberries, thawed
2 tablespoons chia seeds, whole
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon
METHOD
In a 16-oz measuring cup, place berries, chia, maple syrup and lemon juice and crush with a fork. The mixture should be very chunky.
Let set for about 20 minutes.

Shaping and Baking
While dough chills and filling sets, preheat oven to 350 F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Roll out dough in between 2 layers of plastic wrap to a 1/4 or 1/2-inch thickness.

Remove top plastic and cut dough into circles (about 2.5-inch diameter) with a cup or a cookie cutter.

Place about 3/4 teaspoon filling in the center of the circle and pinch sides forming a triangle.


Bake for about 15 minutes, until dough looks drier and firmer to the touch (be careful when touching!).
Let cool and package or serve.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Happy Purim!

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