Hamantaschen, the traditional, fruit-filled cookie of the Jewish holiday, Purim, is as celebrated a symbol of Kosher baking as challah or macaroons. Sodexo pastry chef Jerzy Gonzalez, a Woodbury resident, shared her recipe and its symbolic origins with Patch.
In different versions of the Old Testament story of Purim, the three-sided pastries are meant to resemble either the hat or ears of Haman, a 5th-century political figure who plotted to exterminate Jewish people living in ancient Persia. The fruit filling may represent Haman’s pockets, reputedly loaded down with riches. Eating hamantaschen on this holiday is a ritual that expresses victory over those who would destroy you, Gonzalez said.
“Some say that by eating this cookie you gain the power of your enemies,” she said. “The only way your enemy can hurt you this way is by raising your cholesterol.”
Cultural identification with food is important to Gonzalez, who actually specializes in cake design.
“My goal is to be the Kosher pastry chef guru [at Sodexo],” she said. “I feel like if you want to work with food, you have to know everything about it. It’s good to have multiple learning experiences.”
In addition to coming with a ready-made narrative, hamantaschen are also an easy, relatively simple recipe that parents can make with children. Gonzalez demonstrated the process in her Woodbury kitchen. Her recipe appears below.
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup orange juice
- 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 cup strawberry preserves (or any flavor you like)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in oil, vanilla, and orange juice.
3. Combine flour and baking powder, and stir into the batter to form a stiff dough. If dough is not stiff enough to roll, stir in more flour. Allow dough to chill overnight (or, at minimum, 30 minutes) in the refrigerator.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to quarter-inch thickness. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter or the rim of a drinking glass.
5. Place cookies two inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Spoon about two teaspoons of preserves into the center of each one. Pinch the edges of each cookie to form three corners.
6. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool for one minute on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
Jerzy notes: “Since I love chocolate, I like to drizzle chocolate over [the cookies] when done, and [add] some powdered sugar.”
To contact Jerzy Gonzalez, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-200-0861.