“When Adar arrives, joy is increased.” (Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 29a) The month of Adar brings with it an air of festivity culminating in the holiday of Purim, which takes place on the Fourteenth of Adar. Looking out at the bleak landscape on a snowy Rosh Chodesh Adar (beginning of the month), the holiday spirit eluded me. Taking the adage more literally as “One who welcomes Adar will increase in joy,” I decided to take matters into my own hands. I would bring some warmth to the bitter winter day and bake up a batch of hamantaschen.Hamantaschen, the hallmark cookie of Purim, consist of triangular pockets of pastry filled with poppy seeds or a variety of jams such as prune, apricot, or raspberry. The story behind this Purim treat relates to the villain of the day, Haman, and they are known in Hebrew as oznei Haman, or “Haman’s Ears.” Mythology aside, hamantaschen are ubiquitous during the Purim season and the sweet cookies would surely cheer me up.
Leafing through my recipes, however, I failed to find one that encouraged the mood of Purim. Though charming, traditional hamantaschen seemed, well, too simple and boring compared the over-the-top revelry that Purim inspires. Excess is the norm–indulgent drinking and feasting, elaborate gifts of food, silly costumes, and dancing are all encouraged. Temperance appears to have no place when celebrating Purim.
But how to transform plain old hamantaschen into a more extravagant treat that matches the decadence of the day? To a self-professed chocoholic, the solution was clear–chocolate, and more chocolate.
In this “decadent” version of hamantaschen, chocolate sucree dough is folded over a center of dark chocolate ganache. The flavor and quality of the chocolate used to make the ganache should be rich. Keeping in the “spirit” of Purim, the ganache is spiked with a healthy splash of rum. When I made these, I sprinkled the pastry under the filling with dried cherries for a hint of tartness. Dried cranberries, chopped nuts, or candy toffee chunks would also be wonderful variations.
Rum to taste
dash of salt
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3-4 Tablespoons heavy cream
8 1/2 oz dark chocolate, chopped
8 oz heavy cream
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
4 oz butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
To Prepare Sucree
Cream butter, sugar, salt, and almond extract if using until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix until incorporated. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Add to butter mixture in two stages, alternating with the heavy cream. More or less cream might be needed depending on the consistency of the dough. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, and form a flattened disc. Chill for at least one hour.
To Prepare Ganache
Over a double boiler, heat cream and chopped chocolate. When chocolate is mostly melted, lightly whisk until ganache is smooth and shiny. Whisk in rum and salt. Chill for several hours.
To form hamantaschen: Roll chilled chocolate sucree to slightly more than 1/8 inch thick. Using a round cutter or glass rim dipped in flour, cut circles of about 3 inches in diameter. If adding dried fruit or nuts, sprinkle a small amount in the center of the cut discs.
Remove ganache from fridge, and using either a small ice-cream scoop or by hand, form about 1 inch round balls and place in center of sucree circles. Carefully fold in the edges to form a triangular shape, and pinch the corners to seal. Ensure there are no gaps or tears in the dough, to prevent filling from oozing out during baking.
Bake hamantaschen on greased cookie sheets at 350 F for about 15 minutes, until crust is baked through. Ganache will liquify during baking, but will set as hamantaschen cool.
Pronounced: uh-DAHR, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish month usually coinciding with February-March.
Pronounced: PUR-im, the Feast of Lots, Origin: Hebrew, a joyous holiday that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period.