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  • Hamantashen

    Post #1 - March 3rd, 2006, 3:33 pm
    Post #1 - March 3rd, 2006, 3:33 pm Post #1 - March 3rd, 2006, 3:33 pm
    Now that the paczki are out of the way, who has the best hamantashen in town?

    Hamantashen, for those who aren't familiar with them, are triangular filled pastries made for the Jewish holiday of Purim, which this year begins the night of March 13.

    There are two basic styles -- a cookie-dough type that's more or less like a big kolacky, and a yeast-dough variety, which I prefer. The traditional fillings are poppy seed and prune, though any kind of jammy filling may be used or even chocolate.

    Hamantashen is the plural; one is a hamantash. Some transliterations spell it hamantaschen.

    Each November since 1946, the University of Chicago has staged the Great Latke-Hamantash Debate, the timing of which, I feel, gives latkes an unfair edge. On the eve of Hanukkah, anticipating the crisp, hot delicacy almost in sight, who can give proper attention to a pastry, however delectable, that's months away?

    Literally, hamantashen means "Haman's pockets." Haman is the bad guy in the story of Purim, which, like most Jewish holidays, commemorates somebody's unsuccessful attempt to wipe out the Jews.
    Last edited by LAZ on March 3rd, 2006, 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - March 3rd, 2006, 3:51 pm
    Post #2 - March 3rd, 2006, 3:51 pm Post #2 - March 3rd, 2006, 3:51 pm
    LAZ wrote:Literally, hamantashen mean's "Haman's pockets."


    I'm no talmudic scholar, and I've never read the whole megillah*, but I was brought up to believe that hamantashen referred to his hat which was triangular.

    Wikipedia and About.com agree with me, AMF International agrees with LAZ, and other describe them as Haman's "hats", "ears" or "pockets".

    I still don't know what is authoratative, but this sure sounds good, from Forward.com
    Tasch is German for "pocket" or "purse," which gives us the original name, mohntaschen, or "pockets filled with poppy seeds." As these sweets came to be associated with Purim, mohntaschen evolved into hamantashen, which made special sense as a reference to the coat pockets in which Haman was supposed to have carried the lots, or purim, he cast to determine which day the Jews of his kingdom would die. (The idea that hamantashen are meant to resemble Haman's "three-cornered hat" is another popular misconception.)


    * - the book of Ester, the story of Purim. Also the root of the name Magilla Gorilla.
    Last edited by JoelF on March 3rd, 2006, 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #3 - March 3rd, 2006, 4:06 pm
    Post #3 - March 3rd, 2006, 4:06 pm Post #3 - March 3rd, 2006, 4:06 pm
    JoelF wrote:I'm no talmudic scholar, and I've never read the whole megillah*, but I was brought up to believe that hamantashen referred to his hat which was triangular.

    Wikipedia and About.com agree with me, AMF International agrees with LAZ, and other describe them as Haman's "hats", "ears" or "pockets".


    I too was taught that the shape was based upon Haman's hat. As for who makes the best -- my mom . . . and then me (imho). :lol: Personally, I prefer to make the cookie-type dough (but not too sweet), as opposed to the yeast dough, which I like but not as much.
  • Post #4 - March 3rd, 2006, 4:36 pm
    Post #4 - March 3rd, 2006, 4:36 pm Post #4 - March 3rd, 2006, 4:36 pm
    You can get great yeast-dough hamentashen at the Argo Georgian bakery on Devon. They actually have them year round, but only poppy seed flavor. (If you haven't tried the fantastic bread, this if, of course, the opportunity to do so.)

    Jonah
  • Post #5 - March 3rd, 2006, 5:05 pm
    Post #5 - March 3rd, 2006, 5:05 pm Post #5 - March 3rd, 2006, 5:05 pm
    JoelF wrote:Wikipedia and About.com agree with me, AMF International agrees with LAZ, and other describe them as Haman's "hats", "ears" or "pockets".

    I still don't know what is authoratative, but this sure sounds good, from Forward.com
    Tasch is German for "pocket" or "purse," which gives us the original name, mohntaschen, or "pockets filled with poppy seeds." As these sweets came to be associated with Purim, mohntaschen evolved into hamantashen, which made special sense as a reference to the coat pockets in which Haman was supposed to have carried the lots, or purim, he cast to determine which day the Jews of his kingdom would die. (The idea that hamantashen are meant to resemble Haman's "three-cornered hat" is another popular misconception.)

    Yes, I was taught the hat thing as a kid, too, but we we were misled. The mohntashen evolution not only explains why poppy seed is the most traditional filling but also makes sense given the Jewish propensity for punning and wordplay.

    For another example, scroll down in this page till you get to the explanation for eating kreplach at Purim.

    BTW, JoelF's link to AMFI in his post has a typo in it, which I've corrected in the quote.
  • Post #6 - March 3rd, 2006, 5:26 pm
    Post #6 - March 3rd, 2006, 5:26 pm Post #6 - March 3rd, 2006, 5:26 pm
    I've fixed my broken link... now it's only the other quoters that have errors in them.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #7 - March 4th, 2006, 9:25 am
    Post #7 - March 4th, 2006, 9:25 am Post #7 - March 4th, 2006, 9:25 am
    For 11 years my office was next to a guy who would bring the best hamantashen to work on Purim to pass out to everyone. My favorite was the lemon. I no longer work at that office and am desperate for the lemon ones. Help me to find them!

    Thanks, Susan
    We have the very best Embassy stuff.
  • Post #8 - February 26th, 2007, 2:22 pm
    Post #8 - February 26th, 2007, 2:22 pm Post #8 - February 26th, 2007, 2:22 pm
    Bumping this thread...does anyone else have a reliable source for hamentashen within the city limits? (I'd like to avoid the schlep to Devon; might as well go to Kaufman's at that point.)
  • Post #9 - February 26th, 2007, 3:44 pm
    Post #9 - February 26th, 2007, 3:44 pm Post #9 - February 26th, 2007, 3:44 pm
    Its funny this thread popped up. I'm in the process of making hamentachen as I type. Rob (VI) gave me an heirloom baking cookbook by the Brass sisters for my birthday as baking is my new hobby since I retired and I'm working my way through the book.

    I have been bringing desserts to my classes giving extras to Rob and my daughter (of course keeping some for myself) or just baking for family gatherings.

    Anyway, from this cookbook I'm making a chocolate hamentashen with a fudge type filling and from the internet I pulled Joan Nathan's recipe which I'll use strawberry peserves to fill. Both doughs are chilling and will be rolled, filled and baked tomorrow. I'm hoping for the cookie type dough.

    I'll let you know how they are after they are baked.

    If anyone would like the recipes please pm me.
    Paulette
  • Post #10 - February 27th, 2007, 9:59 am
    Post #10 - February 27th, 2007, 9:59 am Post #10 - February 27th, 2007, 9:59 am
    What about The Bagel?

    Anyone?
  • Post #11 - February 27th, 2007, 2:36 pm
    Post #11 - February 27th, 2007, 2:36 pm Post #11 - February 27th, 2007, 2:36 pm
    On two recent trips to Kaufman's on Dempster they were out of poppy seed hamentaschen. They did have other flavors.

    On the second visit the woman behind the counter said poppy seed was only available by special order. Sounds like baloney to me. Haven't had time to call or drop by again to check.

    Anyone know about this?
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #12 - February 27th, 2007, 2:44 pm
    Post #12 - February 27th, 2007, 2:44 pm Post #12 - February 27th, 2007, 2:44 pm
    George R wrote:On two recent trips to Kaufman's on Dempster they were out of poppy seed hamentaschen. They did have other flavors.

    On the second visit the woman behind the counter said poppy seed was only available by special order. Sounds like baloney to me. Haven't had time to call or drop by again to check.

    Anyone know about this?


    The poppy seed are very popular. As my Bubbe would say, "It wouldn't hurt to call ahead."
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #13 - February 28th, 2007, 7:04 pm
    Post #13 - February 28th, 2007, 7:04 pm Post #13 - February 28th, 2007, 7:04 pm
    I believe it...it's the same deal with Kaufman's poppyseed coffeecakes; if you don't call ahead and reserve one, you've gotta get there early or be really lucky. Why they don't just make more poppyseed items and fewer, say, apricot, is beyond me.

    I was in the neighborhood yesterday, and stopped by the Bagel, just to check. Indeed, they had them in a case, and pretty big...I took three, which totaled something insane, like $7.50...pretty disappointing, as they were very bready and crumbly, and none too generous with the filling.
  • Post #14 - February 28th, 2007, 7:22 pm
    Post #14 - February 28th, 2007, 7:22 pm Post #14 - February 28th, 2007, 7:22 pm
    ndgbucktown wrote:pretty disappointing


    That about sums up The Bagel for me.

    To answer your original query:

    If you want really great Chinese food, you have to go to Chinatown. If you want great Mexican food, it helps to be in a Mexican neighborhood.

    I don't think you'll find a good hamantashen outside of a neighborhood where observant Jews regularly shop. Devon (Levinson's), Touhy (North Shore), Howard (King David), and Dempster (Kaufman/Chaim's) are your best bets.

    I'd like someone to tell me I'm wrong and point to a good old-fashioned Jewish bakery in another part of town, but I don't think it exists.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #15 - March 1st, 2007, 9:16 am
    Post #15 - March 1st, 2007, 9:16 am Post #15 - March 1st, 2007, 9:16 am
    As reported earlier, I made two types of hamentashen. One traditional cookie type from a Joan Nathan recipe I took off the internet and one chocolate from the book Heirloom Baking by the Brass sisters.

    Brought both to class yesterday, and must admit they were both successful, all I had left was three traditional which had more cookies to begin with.

    Now the opinions, if you really like chocolate (which I am not a real lover of ) then the chocolate was your choice. To quote one of the members of my class who is 70 something maybe closer to 80, he said the traditional was like his mother made. These were my favorite. The only problem that I had with them was the recipe called for 2/3 cup of butter or margarine and as you all no butter is marked by 1/4 cup or tablespoon. Again turned to the internet to convert this to tablespoons and came up with 10.6666....so I used 1 stick of butter plus 3 tablespoons. It is a very light buttery cookie that I think I could have eaten all two dozen of myself in one sitting. I veered from traditional by using a strawberry fruit spread from Costco as the filling since I felt more people would enjoy this rather than poppyseed or prune and I was right about that. The funniest response I got was my daughter who told me that mine stuck together, evidently she has a problem with this.

    The chocolate are made with cocoa and have a ganche filling. The actually recipe called for apricot paste on top of the chocolate but I omitted this after finding out two weeks ago that my daughter doestn't like apricot. The thoughts on these were as stated above if your a real chocolate lover you'll like these. Also one of the women suggested that the cocoa made for a drier dough. But what everyone would love to see was a combination of the two. The regular dough with the chocolate filling.

    Sorry I don't have pictures as we don't have our camera right now.

    So for the best hamentashen use Joan Nathans recipe but if you like chocolate fill them with the chocolate ganache.
    Paulette
  • Post #16 - March 5th, 2007, 12:21 am
    Post #16 - March 5th, 2007, 12:21 am Post #16 - March 5th, 2007, 12:21 am
    I'm sitting here eating hamentashen my girlfriend just made this evening! We got the recipe from my Mom that she always baked, that was actually the recipe they sent home from pre-school way back when. Still better than any bakery bought hamentashen I've ever had. She made ones with strawberry and apricot preserves, as well as some w/ Hershey Kisses inside. She said that back in Israel, where she grew up, they'd use a Nutella-like chocolate spread but we had the Kisses so that's what we used...
  • Post #17 - March 9th, 2007, 12:14 pm
    Post #17 - March 9th, 2007, 12:14 pm Post #17 - March 9th, 2007, 12:14 pm
    The best hamentashen I've ever had in my life was last week. From Pariser's Bakery in Northwest Baltimore. Sweet, tender, delicate, generous with the filling, all that good stuff. Little bits of crunchy sugar sprinkled on top.

    Pariser's Bakery
    6711 Reisterstown Road
    Baltimore, MD 21215
    410-764-1700
  • Post #18 - March 11th, 2007, 7:48 am
    Post #18 - March 11th, 2007, 7:48 am Post #18 - March 11th, 2007, 7:48 am
    I love that chocolate spread from Israel. I became slightly addicted to it when I lived there in '74 and '75. They sell it at Garden Fresh, along with a ton of other Israeli imported foods. It's nearly time for my family to go up for another mega-shopping excursion before Passover. I'll be picking some more up then.

    For some reason, my kids and husband hate this stuff, so it's ALL MINE. :twisted:

    Suzy
    " There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
    - Frank Zappa
  • Post #19 - May 15th, 2007, 12:59 pm
    Post #19 - May 15th, 2007, 12:59 pm Post #19 - May 15th, 2007, 12:59 pm
    Assuming you're always in the mood for pastry, Schlegel's in Lincolnwood (Touhy & Crawford) have, big buttery yummy ones.
  • Post #20 - March 19th, 2008, 5:58 pm
    Post #20 - March 19th, 2008, 5:58 pm Post #20 - March 19th, 2008, 5:58 pm
    Purim starts tomorrow night. So far we've gotten one report on 2008 hamantashen.
  • Post #21 - March 19th, 2008, 10:04 pm
    Post #21 - March 19th, 2008, 10:04 pm Post #21 - March 19th, 2008, 10:04 pm
    Pie Lady wrote:Assuming you're always in the mood for pastry, Schlegel's in Lincolnwood (Touhy & Crawford) have, big buttery yummy ones.


    I tried the Schlegel's offering today (raspberry). It was pretty much the cookie style and was short on filling. The cookie itself was pretty good as a cookie, though.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #22 - March 20th, 2008, 2:56 pm
    Post #22 - March 20th, 2008, 2:56 pm Post #22 - March 20th, 2008, 2:56 pm
    I've found the best hamentaschen are the ones we make. I think the bakery ones to be too doughy or overly sweet.

    We always make them twice. Once is for my kids and their friends (I had seven kids over last weekend filling and folding) and once for the adults. The kid's ones are usually a little too filled, plus they don't like poppy or apricot.

    Leonard's bakery in Northbrook has really big hamentaschen, and they are ok in a pinch.
  • Post #23 - March 20th, 2008, 7:18 pm
    Post #23 - March 20th, 2008, 7:18 pm Post #23 - March 20th, 2008, 7:18 pm
    LAZ wrote:Purim starts tomorrow night. So far we've gotten one report on 2008 hamantashen.



    Oops. I didn't know the cookie dough type was "dread". :oops:

    What exactly does poppyseed filling taste like? I see this in a lot of places, often in Polish delis in cakes or donuts. For some reason I've never tried it.
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love
    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach
    Read "Cooking for One" at Literary Orphans via my author page.

    Late-Nite Eats Database
  • Post #24 - March 21st, 2008, 10:29 am
    Post #24 - March 21st, 2008, 10:29 am Post #24 - March 21st, 2008, 10:29 am
    Poppyseed filling tastes suprisingly like poppy seeds. It's basically ground poppyseeds cooked with sweetening (honey or sugar, sometimes raisins) and some lemon and maybe milk.

    I favor the cookie-type mostly becasue it's quicker to make than yeast dough. I mentioned in another thread that the kids asked for apple filling this year. Apples were potentialy a bit too wet so I opted for apple butter. I've never made this before...it has to cook for freakin' ever but seems a satisfactory filling if you get the edges of the cookies pinched well.

    One cookbook advocated a weird way to pinch the triangles that involved overlapping the triangle sides instead of pinching them. Meh...I don't like the way they looked.

    Someday I take photos of my baking efforts...which would involve figuring out how to post photos....
    "The only thing I have to eat is Yoo-hoo and Cocoa puffs so if you want anything else, you have to bring it with you."
  • Post #25 - March 22nd, 2008, 10:07 pm
    Post #25 - March 22nd, 2008, 10:07 pm Post #25 - March 22nd, 2008, 10:07 pm
    .
    Hamantaschen from Kaufman's. Slightly bready, a little dry, but still tasty.

    Image

    Image

    Kaufman's Bagel & Delicatessen
    4905 Dempster St
    Skokie, IL 60077
    847-677-9880
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #26 - March 23rd, 2008, 7:00 am
    Post #26 - March 23rd, 2008, 7:00 am Post #26 - March 23rd, 2008, 7:00 am
    BTW - Thanks, Gary for sharing these - after the crowd of hungry LTHers descended on them, I'm wondering how you got a chance for a bite! I did like the two fillings - poppyseed with it's nice crunch being my favorite...
  • Post #27 - March 23rd, 2008, 7:22 am
    Post #27 - March 23rd, 2008, 7:22 am Post #27 - March 23rd, 2008, 7:22 am
    G Wiv wrote:Hamantaschen from Kaufman's. Slightly bready, a little dry, but still tasty.

    I got some too, with the same opinion. Too much dough to filling. I prefer the type that has an open top (basically a triangular danish), but it's been a while since I've seen any. I got a few of Kaufman's cookie variety, too, and I see why "dreaded." While I like the yeast kind best, I have certainly had better cookie hamantashen than these.
  • Post #28 - March 24th, 2008, 5:14 am
    Post #28 - March 24th, 2008, 5:14 am Post #28 - March 24th, 2008, 5:14 am
    Poppyseed hamantashen and the "dreaded" cookie-style from Kaufman's

    Image
  • Post #29 - March 24th, 2008, 10:03 am
    Post #29 - March 24th, 2008, 10:03 am Post #29 - March 24th, 2008, 10:03 am
    Holy cow.
    Well I still like the dreaded style. :P But are hamantashen still available everywhere? I'd like to try the fat bready kind. I see that Argo has them year-round.

    What's the next holiday with a good dessert tradition? Do I have to wait all the way til July 4th for some flag cake? :lol:
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love
    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach
    Read "Cooking for One" at Literary Orphans via my author page.

    Late-Nite Eats Database
  • Post #30 - March 24th, 2008, 4:48 pm
    Post #30 - March 24th, 2008, 4:48 pm Post #30 - March 24th, 2008, 4:48 pm
    LAZ wrote: . . . and the "dreaded" cookie-style from Kaufman's

    I have to say that I much prefer the "dreaded" cookie-style (in particular, Joan Nathan's version, and so long as they're not too sweet), perhaps because that is what I grew up on.

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