hamataschen + five details

I have been tagged by Cathy at one of my favorite new (to me) food blogs, Not Eating Out In New York, to tell you five things you might already not know about me. I find her site—and those pickles!—impossible to resist, so here we go:

1. My parents have two of my oil paintings in their living room. I painted them while taking a class on the Greek island of Corfu one summer between college semesters. I think I really thought at back then I’d be a painter when I grew up. I barely touch paints anymore, but when I occasionally run into one of my old boxes of art gear under the bed and get that whiff of turpentine, I kind of long for it. Later, I got more into ceramic sculpture, and this I miss all the time. If hell ever freezes over and I end up living in a house far from the city’s borders, I want a kiln. Just thought I’d put it out there.

2. I’m not sure that you don’t know this, but I am a reporter for my day job, where I write about techy stuff. What this means is that I could probably bore you to tears with an at-length discussion of the UAC features of Vista, but promise not to. (Alex, sadly, gets no such assurance.) It does not mean that I have even once successfully programmed a VCR. (Could I sound more old?) Of my ten immediate coworkers, I am the only girl. I am also the only one who brings in loaves of freshly baked bread, but I suspect that goes without saying.


3. I often design blogs for friends for free. I really love tinkering with stylesheets and code. What I’ve never quite mastered—despite number one—is the creation of graphical elements in Illustrator. It’s on my to-do list, though, item number 3,042 or something.

4. We still haven’t put together our wedding album and as of today, our second anniversary is officially closer than our first. What? Stop rushing us.

5. We’re a little obsessed with babies, but mostly of the “other people’s” varieties.


Speaking of work, I brought in gem-colored cookies today and only one person—one person! I work in media! In New York City!—walked by and said “ooh, hamantaschen!” So, for everyone else in the room, hamantaschen are three-cornered cookies, filled traditionally with prunes, poppy seed paste or jellies and served during the Jewish holiday of Purim, which is, more or less, the Jewish Mardi Gras/Halloween and runs until next Tuesday. The cookies are named after Haman, the “bad man” in the ancient lore because he wore a three-cornered hat and, as if I weren’t an awful enough Jew, I actually had to look this up on Wikipedia. Shanda fer de goyim, indeed.

I did, however, remember exactly how to form them, as if the last time I baked them were two days and not over a decade ago. After reading Rachel’s lovely article on NPR yesterday, I couldn’t resist trying this cream cheese-based version last night and they are, of course, incredibly delicious. My only, tiny gripe, and I’m sure it was something stupid I did, was that I couldn’t get them to stay sealed once they expanded in the oven, despite trying pressing them firmly, brushing them with water before pinching the corners and bitching and moaning to my husband. Ah, well—shocker that didn’t do the trick. The only things I tweaked were adding a half-teaspoon of salt and an extra tablespoon of flour to the dough. I filled half of them with raspberry jam and the other half with a fig orange date jam (Dalmatia Brand) I found in the store last night and instantaneously fell in love with. Orange is a traditional hamantaschen flavor, so I was happy to find a way to tuck it in.


And finally: I hadn’t intended for this to be my last post of the week—I have so many more new recipes to discuss!—but seeing as we’re damned close to heading out of town for a few days, it may well be the case. Thank you for your innumerable suggestions of where to go and what to eat. I’ve painstakingly copied them all, with comments for our referral and am so, so ready to hit the South.

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56 comments on hamataschen + five details

  1. great looking cookies as usual. I would eat them even if the shape isn´t as perfect as you´d want it to be (no one can blame me of not being a good sport). And that orange date jam sounds lovely.
    I hope you and Alex have a great time down south, remember to take loads and loads of pics for us.

  2. Kimberly

    I have been making hamantaschen every year for the past 5 or so years… I love your shaped edge! I find that if I roll the dough pretty thin– an 1/8 inch or so thick and only use about a teaspoon of filling I have no problems keeping the edges sealed. I have never tried jam though– I swear by Baker’s Poppy Seed Filling and other assorted pie fillings. Maybe I’ll try my favorite jam this year…

  3. Yum—I can almost taste them! Thanks for sharing 5 things; loved learning fun tidbits about you. You mentioned #3 at your own risk, eh? I am so writing you an email for a fun new idea…

  4. Oh, once there was a wicked, wicked man and Haman was his name, Sir!

    The song is now stuck in my head and I blame you and your hamantaschen. Consider yourself lucky you don’t have to hear me sing it.

  5. Oooh! Hamantaschen!! Gosh, that brings back memories. Used to make these as a kid, haven’t had one for… I don’t even know how long. I did remember the part about the three cornered hat, though that’s about it, and I certainly wouldn’t have thought of them if you hadn’t have mentioned it

    I’ve got ingredients to make Pignolis from Food Blogga next, but after the pignolis come these. Oh nostalgia…

  6. They are sooooo pretty! If you don’t eat them all, feel free to send them to Houston. I’m a huge fan of jam and cookies. By the way, I’ll miss you while on vacation but I hope that you have a ton of fun and take a lot of pics.

  7. Jessica

    Have a wonderful vacation! I just read the sequel to Gone with the Wind (Scarlett) over winter break and would kill to go to Charleston and walk through the Battery. Walk on the beach for us!

  8. Oh, I am glad you made and liked them. Yours are so pretty! I bet mine picked up extra flour when I was rolling them out and that made just enough difference in shaping them. I am a zealot when it comes to flouring surfaces.

  9. courtney

    AW MAN! I wish you would have posted this last week. We just finished the book of Esther in Sunday School, AND it was our week to bring breakfast (by this I mean I research recipes, and my husband shoots them down until I finally make something and don’t tell him). This would have been perfect to accompany me. Maybe I will make a plate for our one teacher who got really into the book.

  10. Dang you get a lot of Rachels. Anyway, I love your blog. I’ve made a vow to comment more and not lurk so often on favorite blogs of mine. You make me want to run to my stove every time I read you, which, honestly, is not that hard to do, but you do it ESPECIALLY well.

    These cookies look so good. Is this just a pate bris or a special kind of dough (like unleavened or something? Forgive, please. I’m Lutheran.)?

  11. Lanni

    I don’t know if it still exists, but there’s a restaurant in Charleston where I had my very first taste of Grits. I know, usually “UGH!”, but this was REAL stone ground grits, slowly cooked to perfection with I have no do idea what seasonings and topped off with shrimp. Best I’ve ever had to this day and that was back in 1994! If you happen to come across it, let me know. I’d love to figure out how they made that dish. Have fun!

  12. Lanni

    By the way, I just started reading your blog today and I think it’s a great site. Makes me want to try out some recipes in the kitchen too! And great humour!

  13. Beautiful looking as usual! Just an interesting side note about Hamantaschen. In Hebrew they are called “Oznei Haman” which means “Haman’s Ears.” Not sure why though….I’ll ask my religious friends in the know tomorrow.

  14. Kim

    I found your site a few days ago (even featured it on my own blog!) and I’m glad to find another reporter by day, blogger by….all other hours. Funny how you can never get sick of writing. Well, that’s a lie. Sometimes we get sick of writing, yet we still do it.

  15. Nikki

    Okay, I read what everyone else said, and I just have to say it… #5 is followed by a picture that looks like nearly every diagram of a uterus I’ve ever seen. That can’t just be coincidence can it?

    And though transliterating from the Hebrew to English makes me cringe a little bit, Hag Someach! The 1.5 semesters of Hebrew I’ve had are really paying off!

  16. Kim

    I came over at the suggestion of Elise at Simply Recipes. I just wanted to say that my 4th wedding anniversary passed and we finally got our wedding album. (We’d been spending years alternately procrastinating and working on narrowing down from over 1000 photos to 40.) So you’ve got time!

  17. I laughed as I read this because a few years ago my daughter and I made Hamantashen and I took them to work. A coworker asked what the story was and I felt like a lousy Jew because I drew a blank. One of the other colleagues, a goy, piped up with the full story. I felt so small.

  18. SantaDad

    “3. I often design blogs for friends for free. …………………”

    You’d think she would design a blog for her dad .. who has asked her more than a few times!

    You’ll love Charleston. Be sure to go to Fort Sumter.

  19. I’ve read comments from others that have said if they use jam and not a lekvar, the filling leaks and burns. Did you fill these before or after baking?

  20. Deb,

    I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip.

    The cookies (can I call them this way?) looks fabulous – I wish my coworkers brought delicious things like these to the office, too! ;)

  21. ann

    This “and only one person — one person! I work in media! In New York City! — walked by and said “ooh, hamantaschen!”” LITERALLY just made diet coke spurt out my nose. That’s sooooo something that would happen in my newsroom too. Hilarious. Have fun on your vacay!

  22. the pauper

    1. VCR? and you write about tech? How about DVR? Yea? Ok! yay!
    2. hope you don’t work for Wired Mag. Something dirty is going on there. Really nasty reporting.
    3. cookies look great.

  23. deb

    Randi — Growing up, I always remember the jam leaking but I had no problem at all with the two I used. They were very thick and barely spread at all. Just in case, though, I try not to overfill the centers and make sure the corners are very tight.

    Magpie — Those look great!

    Kim — Thank you. Can you tell my parents and in-laws that? ;)

    Rachel who asked about the kind of dough — You’re darned right there are a lot of Rachels! It’s my mom’s favorite name, though, so you’re all welcome here. I suspect a pate brissee could be used, but this is closer to a pate sucree because it has both sugar and an egg, and is easy to roll. Of course, this version also has cream cheese in it, so it’s pretty much off the books. However, if you’re looking for a quick subsitutition, a pate sucree should work as well.

    Hilary — Oooooh today we’ll merry merry beeee! Thanks a lot!

    Rachel/CoconutLime — It could have been the cold/warm thing, but I’m not certain. Either way, they’re completely delicious and the truth is, the more stiff ones that always stay together in the oven are, I think, the least tasty. They’ve been a hit all around, so thank you.

    Ann — I totally wrote that for you. Hee.

    Sorry for the stingy responses today, but you know, tons of things to do before we jet. I’m updating the post with the fig jam brand (god, that really needs to be a band name or something) — you must try it!

  24. Keri

    Lovely hamantaschen! I’m wondering if you saw the cookbook Heirloom Baking that was published last year? The authors had a recipe for hamantaschen made with chocolate dough and apricot filling. Looked super yummy.

    Don’t feel bad about the wedding album. My husband and I are heading toward year 4 without one.

  25. Oooh, I’ve never made hamantaschen, but I surely would recognize them if I walked by! My grandmother used to make them, with prune filling (of course). I remember watchng her pinch the corners as she made dozens of them at a time …I think that was the best part!

  26. shana

    dude! bring me some!
    (also, do you know the little clay studio in chelsea? on 21st or 20th or 19th or something, between 7th and 8th, on the north side of the street?)

  27. deb

    Keri — Chocolate dough? Great, now that Alex reads that, it will be all over. He actually prefers those “chocolate” fortune cookies. They horrify me. JK, of course, the hamantaschen sound wonderful.

    Shana — We used to live right by there so I passed it all the time. It looks so cute, but mostly wheel work, right? Have you been there? Taken any classes? If they do sculpture, I’m too close not to take it up! Thx.

  28. Robbyn

    Ohhhh…YUM!! (get out the groggers!) the hamantaschen are one of the most delightful things just before embibing in enough holiday spirits to blur the distinction between the poppy seed sort or the fruity ones…

    I discovered your blog just days ago, and I’m hooked! I also discovered the Not Eating Out in New York one via your blog, and now I’ve lost count of all the recipes I’ve been drooling over. I got sooooo hungry that tonight I put together an indian cauliflower dish from somewhere that I either found here or through your links (I’ll do a better job of saving the reference next time!) and it was scrumptious! The hamantaschen looks great…can’t wait to add it to the (lengthening) To Make list!


  29. Thanks for the link to Not Eating Out in New York- a great site, and for responding to the meme- I did the same after picking it up from a fellow blogger. Blogging creates a community and it is nice to learn tidbits about people who you “talk” to every day. I have linked to your site as one of the ones I check daily, because I can count on delicious pictures, food and writing! I write for a living (at a nuclear physics lab) so my blog is a creative outlet, and as it turns out, a social one as well. It is like having an international kitchen table where everyone can come!

  30. I’ve been lurking and salivating over here for a while. There’s so much on your gorgeous site that I want to cook and then stick my face in and live there for a while. Mmmm. I do love that roasted tomato sauce. My brother made it for us for dinner about a year ago — and you’ve just reminded me that I need to put a pasta machine on my wedding registry. What should I have someone gift us with?

    I hope you enjoy your trip south. Don’t have any recommendations for the towns you mention — if you were going to Nashville, I’d have to insist that you go to the Loveless Cafe for the best fried chicken and everything else, ever. Next time, maybe.

  31. Emily

    I’ve been lurking forever, too, but am trying to be better about it. I made hamentaschen for the first time when I was living in London. They were hugely popular with my boyfriend of the time and all of his flatmates (Purim hit near Easter that year so they got them in their Easter baskets), but no one could pronounce the name. From then on I got pestered for more ‘jam cakes’ every time I came over.
    I’m so glad it’s time to get out the recipe again! And thank you for all of your lovely inspiring recipes–I’ve gotten back into experimenting now that I know I’m not alone!

  32. khristy

    hope you are enjoying the south.
    i am taking my mom to new york (it will be her first time there), i am wondering if you would suggest a great vegetarian restaurant?

  33. Celeste

    Right after the line about being obsessed with babies, I could not help but think the next photo of the cookies looked like…those graphic arts diagrams of what a uterus looks like in a cutaway view. ::blush::

  34. I made the Hamantaschen the other night. They were great. Thanks for alerting us to the recipe. Most of mine didn’t stay sealed up either. But that’s ok…they tasted great!

  35. After reading your comment about the dough not staying together in the oven, I made the hamentaschen tonight and decided to whisk an egg and use that as “glue” to hold the corners together… yup… didn’t quite work, though. Maybe 1/3 of my hamentaschen stayed somewhat true to their pre-baked form… But they do taste good! I do have to say that I have always enjoyed those big, firm (hard) New York hamentaschen with that great buttery dough, but these were so cute. And maybe the dough will firm up by the morning – my only tastes of it so far were of the straight-out-of-the-oven variety. Thanks for the recipe!

  36. Max

    Yum! I love how thin the cookie part looks – sometimes hamantaschen get so bready you can’t taste the filling. Every year I swear I’ll try to make them, but it always seems too time-consuming. Was this a quick one?

  37. Carolyn

    SantaDad – ouch! (LOL) Did you make your dad his blog yet, Rachel?
    That was hilarious. He called you out on your own blog, in front of everybody! Wow!

  38. Sarah

    @Deb: I thought she was talking about the Rachel in your article. Other than that, not sure.

    I’m going to try making these later this month. :)

  39. Schinamama

    I test out new bakeries by trying out their humintaschen (different part of Europe).
    I had a lousy one just today .
    Oh for the triangular cookies of my chidhood.
    I will try these out.
    Thank you for all your wonderful recipes

  40. Liz

    I made Rachel’s dough, because cream cheese dough with filling cookies is divine, but I have to say Deb, your brown butter dough hamantaschen are my favorite. Nice depth of flavor and SO pretty with the little vanilla seeds!

  41. Karen

    Delicious. As for shaping, I think it’s the pinch vs fold debate. Though they sometimes come apart, still, I find the folding technique more reliably seals the corners. Wish I could post a pick to show you!