March 08, 2009

Chocolate Hamantaschen



Ingredients:
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg

filling:
Ficoco*
ginger preserves

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line with a silipat or parchment paper 2 cookie sheets. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat thoroughly. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until a thick dough forms. Refrigerate the dough for about 10 minutes or until the dough isn't quite as soft as it was straight from the mixer. Sprinkle a clean work area with powdered sugar. Roll out the dough until it is just shy of 1/4 inch thick. Cut out 2 3/4 to 3 inch rounds. I used my doughnut cutter (with the center removed) to cut the rounds. Place them on the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Place a scant teaspoon of filling the in the middle and fold the two sides and the bottom (facing you) slightly up and towards the middle. The cookie should look like it has sides. Pinch the corners and lightly smoosh them down so there isn't a visible seam. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they look "set". Cool on a wire rack.

Yield: about 12 cookies

Note: You can easily double (or I would think, even triple) this recipe. Also, if you have a hard time shaping your cookies, Steph has an alternative method that involves folding that she has success with. If you use her method, I would suggest making larger cookies, maybe 3 1/2 inches, but using the same amount of filling that I call for here.

*Ficoco is a chocolate-fig spread. Before you ask, I found it at Whole Foods.



My thoughts:
Traditionally hamantaschen, a cookie made to celebrate Purim, is a plain dough with prune or poppy seed filling. While I know all about and enjoy traditional hamantaschen (I even wrote an article about Purim and hamantashen a couple of years ago for NPR) I still prefer the funkier variations. One year I made a cream cheese based hamantaschen with fig and ginger filling and another year I made vegan hamantaschen with kiwi or boysenberry jam. This year I had planned to make a shortbread type hamantaschen with a chocolate filling but the more I thought about it, the more I didn't think it would work. If I just used chocolate chips, the chips wouldn't be mixed into the batter and high heat would melt the chips and cause them to overflow and scorch. My next thought was to try a ganache filling but since the cookies are normally baked filled I didn't see how that would work either. Nor did I want to make a chocolate cookie or brownie-like dough to use for the filling, that seemed a bit much. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I liked the slightly caramelized, thickened jam or preserve filling in most hamantashen.

So, rather than waste time and valuable ingredients, I decided to make a chocolate dough and vary the filling. I loved the chocolate cookie filled with MacKay's spiced ginger preserves and my new love Ficoco but any sort of thick jam or preserves that you think pairs well with chocolate would work. The dough itself is has a very strong chocolate flavor and while slightly soft, holds the shape of the cookie well and is very easy to work with.