March 1, 2015
My friend Karen and I have made hamantaschen together on several occasions. She has memories of how her mother used to make them. I don't, but I still have an idea about how they should taste. We tried various recipes, but none of them was right. Then I got Rose's recipe, which uses pate sucree as the cookie base, and suddenly the hamantaschen tasted good. We still had some problems with shaping the cookies, but we're gradually getting better.
First, the poppyseed filling. I added the rind of my last, lone Meyer lemon, and my apricot preserves turned out actually to be orange marmalade, so there were plenty of citrusy notes in the filling. That's not a bad thing.
Butter is good. Even when it's not beurre noisette.
I did have Turbinado sugar in my box of sugars, but it was so hard I couldn't get any out. How do other people store sugars they don't use often but want to keep on hand? I have a hard lump of dark Muscovado, a hard lump of light Muscovado, and formerly had a piece of granite that claimed to be turbinado sugar. So I used regular sugar and processed it, as instructed. I could have used Baker's Sugar, but that wasn't in the instructions, so I didn't.
"The dough will be in crumbly pieces." Yes, it will. Here it takes an act of faith to pour the crumbs into a plastic bag and believe that the crumbs will magically turn into smooth cookie dough.
And yet it does. "With no visible pieces of butter." As I scanned the dough for any butter spots, and prepared to put the dough in the refrigerator, Karen said, "Rose would just platz if she saw how my mother and I used to make hamantaschen." Apparently they didn't examine the dough for microscopic pieces of butter. Or refrigerate the dough before rolling it out. Or measure the dough to make sure it's 1/8 inch thick.
I know for sure that they didn't strain the eggs for the egg wash. I'm pretty sure they didn't use an egg wash. I'm including this picture to prove that I didn't skip the straining step, which I sometimes do.
The main problem we've had before in our hamantaschen escapades is the floppy-sided cookie, which becomes not folded and not filled, instead of a proper three-sided Haman's hat. Mine were especially bad. So this year we (mostly Karen) sealed the dough tightly so there was barely any filling visible at the time the cookies went into the oven.
We ended up making, in addition to the poppyseed cookies, some that were filled with ersatz apricot preserves (that is to say, orange marmalade) and some with blackberry preserves. Karen said they used to make theirs with strawberry jam and thickened the jam with crushed-up cornflakes if it was too runny. I said, "No hamantaschen will be filled with cornflakes in my kitchen." That was a rule I didn't even know I had before yesterday.
As it turned out, the fillings did not need to be thickened with cornflakes or anything else, and none of the cookies collapsed and spurted out filling. And they tasted very, very good. Jim couldn't decide which filling he liked better, and kept saying he'd better have another to compare. He never did decide and now most of the cookies are gone.
The one thing I will do differently next time is not slop on the egg wash. I didn't realize that the line of demarcation would be so clear. I suppose it's a good idea not to be sloppy in general, but I'm not yet ready to make a resolution that covers my entire life.