3 minutes reading time (591 words)

Mixing Dough and Heritage in the Name of Hamantaschen

Hamantaschen
How a Sephardic baker made her Ashkenazi family's recipe famous

The Purim holiday commemorates the Jewish people's triumph over Haman, an official in 4th-century BCE Persian Empire who attempted their destruction. To celebrate, we gift each other food packages, prepare a special meal, read the Book of Esther, and let out our inner joy!

One special Purim tradition is baking hamantaschen, the three-cornered cookie often filled with poppyseed, jam, or chocolate. Bake them with us in this video with local Los Angeles hamantaschen maven Debbie Pearlman and Melton's Director of Programming and Travel Initiatives Andrea Gardenhour! Recipe and more about Debbie below.

Grandma Anne's Hamantaschen

2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces

Put all dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter. Pulse until dough resembles corn meal. Add eggs and pulse until dough comes together. Turn dough out onto floured work surface and knead until it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and let chill 20 minutes.

While dough chills, make the filling:

2 cups dried apricots
1 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and cook apricots until very soft, about 30 minutes. Mash with potato masher. You can sub the apricots for pitted prunes, dried cherries, or any other dried fruit you want.

When dough is ready to use, roll out with rolling pin (you may need to add flour until it's easy to roll out). Cut out circles (use a water glass) and fill, then fold into triangles.

Bake on cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Right-click thumbnail to download as a PDF.
Meet Debbie Pearlman

Debbie is a local Los Angeles treasure, well known for her delicious baked goods and especially her hamantaschen, which she makes and sells about 500 of each year. Here is her story.

My family hails from Rhodes by way of the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). When my mother came to America in 1958, she met her husband, a Jew from Alabama, and the family settled in Atlanta and then Los Angeles. My mom cooked us the Sephardi dishes of her heritage – I think she wanted to feel closer to her family who was so far away. I'm so glad she fed us these memories, and those dishes are my comfort food to this day. My sister and I have made sure to learn how to make all the recipes. It seems like not too many people can make that food anymore, so we are doing our part to keep it going. So, I didn't grow up with conventional American Jewish food like kugel, gefilte fish or even hamantaschen! But my husband, Steve, is Ashkenazi, from Portland, Oregon. Both of his grandmothers were wonderful cooks, and we have integrated Steve's Ashkenazi comfort food into our Jewish holiday meals. Alongside the Sephardic burekas and keftes we have the Ashkenazi cherry-wine Jello and Shabbat chicken. The hamantaschen recipe shared here is from Steve's Grandmother Anne Pearlman. No one in the family knows its origins. They think she made it up, which wouldn't surprise me a bit. I started making the hamantaschen about 15 years ago when my kids were young. They really are the best - soft and buttery cookie with delicious fillings. Enjoy!

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