If you’re Jewish, you’ve almost definitely heard the classic joke that summarizes every Jewish holiday. If you’re not, here’s a Jewish history lesson for you: “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.”
That sums up the story of Purim quite accurately. But for those of you who are dying to know more, all you have to do is look towards the Hamantaschen.
Haman, the king’s grand vizier and the villain of the story, planned to exterminate all of the Jews in Persia to get back at one man, Mordechai, who refused to bow down to him—talk about an overreaction. (Read the full story here.)
This triangle shaped cookie is said to represent three things: Haman’s hat, his pockets and his ears. Haman is often depicted wearing a triangle shaped hat, so eating a representation of it is a way for us to “eat” his memory—that’ll show him. His pockets are also a significant image in the Purim story because he was notorious for pocketing bribes.
The Hebrew term for hamantaschen is “Oznei Haman,” which literally translates to “Haman’s ears,” making that the most popular explanation of the three.
Haman’s plan doesn’t go exactly as planned. Instead of killing Mordechai, the king forces Haman to give him his entire estate. The Midrash (commentary on the text) describes Haman as having “clipped ears” out of shame and humiliation.
So for Purim this year, help your Jewish friends celebrate by making some hamantaschen. The explanation may not have been so appetizing, but I promise these cookies are.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: About 3 dozen
1 cup oil
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 teaspoons baking powder
5 ½ cups flour
Filling (we used about 2 small jars of apricot jam)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla together in a bowl.
3. Add baking powder and flour, and mix.
4. Knead until smooth.
5. Roll out dough on a floured board until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick.
6. Cut out circles with a glass or mug.
7. Transfer circles to a greased baking sheet.
8. Place a dollop of filling in the center of each circle.
9. Fold into a triangle.
10. Bake for 15 minutes.
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