The Book of Esther is the story of a woman who essentially risked her life in order to save the exiled Jewish people from Purim's evil villain, Haman. The gist of the text is that the vulnerable, particularly those living in exile, can be triumphant without relinquishing their heritage. A most timely story, indeed.
Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of Adar, but this year, the baking community has decided to kick things off a touch early. Hamantaschen, the tri-cornered, quintessential Purim cookie symbolizes Haman's pocket, or his hat, or his ear. It all depends on whom you ask. As for the type of Hamantaschen you prefer, much has to do with the cookie you remember from your childhood. The triangle cookies our grandmothers and great grandmothers painstakingly rolled, filled, and folded were made from yeast-risen doughs. Kuchen dough provided an agreeable backdrop for poppy seeds, nuts, and dried fruits. The cookies were truly better suited to a morning nosh with coffee as they were far less sweet than the cookie-like Hamantaschen we consume today, bolstered by sugar and baking powder.
I gussied up the comfortably bland dough with lekvar (prune and apricot) plus a batch of lemon curd, because it seems to me that we could use a little sunshine. Honestly, the yeast dough is a little more work, a little knead-y. But Purim is a holiday about giving, "mishloach manot" - giving the gift of food; a "mitzvah," a good deed. The smallest gestures can have enormous impact, even when they begin with something as simple as a cookie.
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