Monday, March 09, 2009

Hamantaschen Time

Whoa! Things are sneaking up on me this week. Like daylight savings time, which I didn't realize was happening today, since my phone aka watch automatically re-set itself. I was a little surprised that I'd slept til 8:30am this morning, but figured it was just a reaction to working a long 10+ hour day again. And suddenly it's plum-blossom and Girl Scout cookie time, and very soon, Purim, arriving on Tuesday! Which means, of course, that hamantaschen must be made. But where to get the correct, gorgeously wrapped gummy sheets of apricot paste, made, I believe, in Syria? Back in Brooklyn, they sold for cheap at Sahadi's, my friendly local Lebanese grocery store. Here, I'm sure Haig's out in the avenues has them, but it would be great to find someplace closer to home. There's a Middle Eastern grocery store on Mission near 26th St that I've been meaning to check out; now may be the time!

Why apricot paste? What you want for your hamantaschen filling is what's called lekvar: a thick, dense paste of sweetened dried apricots, which can then be pureed with golden raisins and mixed with orange and lemon juices for balance and complexity. Apricot jam WILL NOT do; it's too runny. You want the concentration of dried apricots, so the filling won't run out or burn during baking. You could, of course, soak, cook, and puree your own dried apricots, but the sheets sold in middle eastern grocery stores--imagine a 1-inch thick brick of apricot fruit leather--work like a charm. (Like canned pie filling, canned apricot lekvar is, unfortunately, usually filled with corn syrup and other junk). I've posted numerous hamantaschen recipes here, but here is the best one, adapted from the fabulous Jewish Holiday Baking book by Canadian baking Jew Marcy Goldman. Prune filling is also surprisingly good; poppyseed, another trad filling, sounds good but requires a special grinder to pulverize the seeds correctly.


esther said...

Ahh you read my mind.. I was just coming to search for your hamentaschen recipe and you've done all the work for me. Now, can I get some apricot sheets in time! yoiks.

Stephanie J. Rosenbaum said...

glad to help! And you know, send me your mailing address and I'll send you a copy of my new cookbook, coming out next week, just in case my publisher doesn't distribute out your way. I'm way too sleepy right now to start foraging out in the world for apricot paste--but I just realized I have a jar of Sarabeth's "apricadabra" jam (made by a company in New York City) made from dried apricots and pineapple that should be just right. Will post pix if I can get up now and get baking....happy Purim!

David said...

Sorry for this belated comment but better lekvar than never.

Prune lekvar is also common.. in fact, in NY, prune was the reference lekvar. The apricot sheets, which you probably can still get from places like Russ and Daughters was for direct consumption.

The best hamentaschen ever (other than my grandmother's) were sold at Zomicks, a bake shop in Cedarhurst.