Purim starts this Wednesday, and although it might look to goyim like a Jewish Halloween, it’s about more than dressing up like princesses and spinning noisemakers called groggers.
It’s also about stuffing our faces.
Hamantaschen are traditionally shortbread triangular cookies filled with jam or poppyseeds. I have had versions with peanut butter (good), Nutella (great), and scores of other sweets, but I haven’t ever had a savory one.
So I decided to make one.
These cookies are a little labor intensive, but festive and incredibly delicious. You ain’t never had a hamantaschen like this one.
French Onion Soup Hamantaschen
2 cups flour
1 stick butter, cut into small cubes, plus 2 Tbs. for sauteeing
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbs. salt
1/2 Tbs. pepper
1 1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 tbs. herbs de Provence
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1. Put the flour, cubed butter, vegetable oil, baking soda, eggs, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
2. Mix it with your hands until the dough is homogeneous…
and looks like that.
3. Put the dough in tinfoil or cling wrap, roll it up, and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. In the meantime, put the remaining butter and onions in a skillet over medium low heat, and start to caramelize them. This process should take 30 minutes.
5. After the dough has chilled, roll it or pat it out on a well floured surface.
6. Using a large-rimmed drinking glass or circular cookie cutter,
stamp out circles of the dough.
7. Refrigerate the circles for 30 minutes. Also, preheat your oven to 350 F.
8. Add Worcestershire sauce and herbs to the onions. Taste, and add salt, pepper and/or sugar if necessary.
9. Remove the dough from the fridge, and add a sprinkle of cheese…
and a few onions to the middle of each circle. Don’t overfill, here – use less than you think you need to! You should have quite a bit of onions and cheese left over at this point.
10. Now is the hard part – pinch these babies into triangles. Using some water may help seal the edges. Don’t be scared to really smush the edges together…you can’t beat up this dough too much. It will stay pretty tender.
11. Pop those little triangles in the oven.
12. In about 7 minutes, check your hamantaschen. At least a few of them should have splayed open in what is known in the culinary world as “hamentaschen blowout.” This happens to EVERY hamantaschen baker, and can only be avoided by going in the oven while the cookies are still baking and re-forming them. The possible oven burns are worth it. Go in there and press the triangles back together.
13. In 15 minutes form when the baking started, the cookies should be golden brown on the bottom and hard on the top. Now, add the remaining onions and a sprinkle of cheese to each cookie - this ensure that each bite of hamantaschen results in a moist, cheesy cookie.
14. When the dough sounds hollow when tapped, it is done. And it is awesome.
These hamantaschen kick serious tucchus. The pastry is like a biscuit – dense, buttery, and spiked with spicy black pepper. The filling is surprisingly deep, with notes of beef and those floral herbs among the sweet, soft onions. The Worcestershire sauce is the trick here – that imparts the slow cooked umami taste of beef stock that French onion soup classically carries. The Gruyere underneath is thick and melty, and the cheese on top is crunchy and nutty.
Now this is what I call Shtetl-Chic.