Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. According to the Book of Esther, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus planned to kill the Jews, but his plans were foiled by Mordechai and Queen Esther. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing.
Traditionally, for Purim, people will give gifts of food and money to charities and dress up in costumes and masks (this weekend there were people of all ages, shapes and sizes wearing all kinds of costumes: Snow White, Superman, Bee, Peter Pan and Gaddafi being some of the favorites). Of course, there is also a festive meal to mark the occasion and as dessert, it is tradition to serve cookies called Oznei Haman (eng. Haman’s Ears, hrv. Hamanove uši).
As this was my first Purim in Israel, I volunteered to make the Oznei Haman for the Shabbat dinner. After receiving several recipes from friends, decided to use a recipe my friend Lya, her sister and their adorable little nephew convinced me it was the best ever. And since the cookies turned out very tasty indeed, here is the recipe so you can enjoy them too :)
OZNEI HAMAN WITH POPPY SEED FILLING
Dough (makes roughly 44-46 cookies)
445 g flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
125 g softened butter (cut into cubes)
50 g margarine (cut into cubes)
120 g sugar
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice
Grated skin of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
Poppy seed filling
1 cup of milk
50 g sugar
1 tablespoon of honey
50 g softened butter
200 g ground poppy seeds
1½ tablespoons flour
Grated skin of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set it aside.
In a different bowl mix the butter and margarine at medium to high speed, until the mixture is creamy. Gradually add sugar to the mixture and keep mixing it lightly for a few minutes at medium speed. Add the eggs one by one, followed by the orange juice and vanilla extract and blend it all into a smooth mixture. Keep mixing at low speed, and start adding the flour little by little until a soft and uniform dough is formed.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand a little, until the dough is completely smooth. Divide the dough into two parts, wrap them and place in refrigerator for at least an hour, until the dough is firm. Meanwhile you can prepare the filling.
Pour the milk into a medium-sized saucepan, add sugar and honey, stir and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring continuously for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and leave the mixture to cool.
Preheat the oven to moderate 175 degrees.
Roll out the dough at roughly 3 mm width on a lightly floured surface. With a round cutter (advised 8 cm diameter) cut circles in dough. Put a teaspoon of filling the center of the circle. Fold the dough on three sides and use your fingers to pinch the corners, making a triangular design and leaving the center stuffing exposed (see photos). Pinch the corners well to seal the dough so it doesn’t open during baking.
Place the cookies on baking paper at intervals of 3 cm and bake for approx. 10 minutes, until they turn golden brown. Remove from the pan and leave them to cool before serving.
Featured photo: SXC.hu
Recipe photos: Zrinka Opašić, Tel Aviv/Israel
Zrinka’s blog: www.newchapter-tlv.com