Sunday, March 9, 2014

Zebra Hamantaschen


If someone dares you to make rainbow hamantaschen, RUN AWAY!


By the time you've kneaded enough food coloring into your dough, it will be hopelessly crumbly and overworked. You will invent new profanities trying to stop the layers separating as you fold them into triangles. You'll have bragging rights forever, but you just might suffer a psychotic break. So, stay safe and just make the zebra version.




Last year, I posted the Top 5 Rules of Hamantaschen in my Hamantaschen 101 post. I'm not going to repost them here, but, seriously, you have to chill the dough before rolling it out. And you have to freeze the hamantaschen before baking so they don't spread everywhere. Do not go to all the trouble of making these crazy cookies, only to let them ooze into a puddle in the oven!

One last tip: Use chocolate or peanut butter filling. Don't use jelly or poppy, which are soft and cause the cookies to flatten out. See the difference in the picture?

The chocolate filling you can find in my last year's Purim post, and the peanut butter is just 1/2 a cup of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon flour whisked together. (No, I don't think that counts as a recipe.)

Vanilla Dough
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Chocolate Dough
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder

8" loaf pan
wax paper
parchment paper
sharp knife
cookie sheets
small offset spatula, if you have one
freezer bags





Mixing the Doughs
Preparing the chocolate and vanilla doughs isn't difficult. You don't even have to wash the mixer between batches, just make the vanilla first. For each dough:
  • Cream the butter and sugar for two minutes on medium-high until light and fluffy. 
  • Add the salt, egg and vanilla, and beat for another minute to combine. 
  • Finish by scraping down the sides and mixing in the dry ingredients. 
  • Refrigerate for at least two hours, covered in plastic wrap.

Constructing Layers
If you look at the four pictures above, you'll see that the this is just rolling the doughs out flat, layering them into a stack, cutting the stack into slices, and pressing out circles.
  • Pull out a sheet of wax paper approximately six times the width of your loaf pan and lay it on the counter. Break one of the dough balls into chunks and spread them on the wax paper. 
  • Spread another sheet on top of the dough and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a large rectangle. 
  • Using your loaf pan as a guide, score the paper with a knife to make five sections of dough the size of your pan. 
  • Use a sharp knife to cut all the way through the dough and paper layers, leaving yourself with five strips of dough. Put the extra dough aside to roll out later.
  • Repeat above steps with second dough.
  • Spread a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter. Removing the wax paper, stack alternating strips of dough and cover with the wrap. Nest the stacked dough in the loaf pan  and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Rolling out and Filling
Allow the dough to soften at room temperature for fifteen minutes before removing the plastic wrap.
  • Slice dough approximately 1/5" inch thick and use your rolling pin to work into a square which accommodates your round cookie cutter. You may need to experiment with thicknesses here, so only cut three or four slices at once. 
  • Roll scraps together to make "marble" hamantaschen. (Don't throw away the dough, your Bubbe would be really mad.)
  • Drop teaspoons of filling in the middle of each circle.
  • Using your fingers or a small, offset spatula, fold the sides in to form a triangle and pinch the edges together.
  • Carefully move to a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, and freeze solid. Once frozen, move the cookies to a zipper-top bag and freeze until ready to bake.

Baking
  • Preheat oven to 350 (325 convection). 
  • Place frozen hamantaschen 2" apart on parchment-lined baking sheet. 
  • Bake about 15 minutes, until the edges are just barely starting to get brown. Let them rest a minute on the baking sheet before moving to racks. 
  • Cool on wire racks and serve within the next two days. 
Makes about 36 cookies.





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