Get Baked: Vegan Hamantaschen for Purim

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Hey kids, did you know Purim is on Sunday?  I want to go on record stating that I am in no way an authority on Jewish holidays; I dropped out of Hebrew school a few months after my bat mitzvah when it became clear (through a curriculum consisting mostly of baking challah and watching taped Seinfeld episodes) that my synagogue had long since run out of ideas.  Still, I appreciate cultural Judaism, and opportunistically celebrate all the holidays that involve delicious food.

Purim is exceptional for a few reasons – it’s one of the less somber Jewish holidays, you get to wear costumes, and did I mention there are cookies?  Most importantly, it’s one of the only holidays to celebrate the actions of a female protagonist – Esther, a Jewish queen of Persia who exposed and thereby thwarted a plot by the king’s advisor Haman to have all the Jews executed (We can also talk about Vashti, the king’s previous wife who was banished for refusing to “flaunt her beauty” for the king’s drunken bros and in my mind was a feminist badass, but that is another story for another day).  The point is, Purim is a holiday for drinking, merrymaking, celebrating legendary ladies and eating cookies.

clockwise from top left: fig, raspberry-apricot, blueberry

clockwise from top left: fig, raspberry-apricot, blueberry

I hadn’t eaten hamantaschen since going vegan almost nine years ago, which makes no sense because there’s no excuse not to veganize all baked goods all the time.  I was taught as a kid that the triangle-shaped cookies are meant to represent the three-pointed hat Haman wore, and that by eating them we were symbolically defeating an enemy of our people.  This turns out to be the most idyllic and innocent version of the story.  Further research revealed a few alternative explanations – in Israel, the cookies are called oznei Haman, “Haman’s ears,” apparently referring to the king either hanging Haman by his ears, cropping his ears to humiliate him or somehow insinuating that Haman had elf ears.  Another story likens the shape of the cookies to dice Haman would have cast to select a day for the extinction of the Jews.  The word tasch in German (and by extension Yiddish) means “pockets,” which could refer either to Haman’s literal pockets or the nature of the fruit-filled cookies themselves.  I’m going to stick with the much more whimsical three-pointed hat explanation if that’s alright with you.

Vegan Hamantaschen

Adapted from a recipe on ReformJudaism.org

INGREDIENTS:

- some sort of jam or preserves situation
– 2 1/4 cups flour
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 
1 tsp baking powder
– 
1/2 tsp salt
– 
4.5 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
– 
6-9 tbsp warm water
– 
1/2 cup sunflower oil

1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Time to make the cookie dough!  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.

3.  In a small separate bowl, combine the egg replacer with 6 tbsp of warm water.  Mix until they are of a smooth, vaguely eggy consistency, then add the mixture to your dough.  Add the oil (and extra water, if your dough is still too dry) and stir thoroughly.

4.  Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface and roll out your dough.  Maybe you can’t find your rolling pin because your roommate borrowed it without asking and then left it somewhere weird, but that’s cool; EVERYTHING’S FINE.  You can be very resilient and use a vodka bottle instead.

don't you judge me.

don’t you judge me.

5.  When your dough is like 1/4 inch thick or thereabouts, use a glass or a jar lid or something round and about 3″ across to cut out individual cookie shapes from the dough.  Place your circles on your baking sheet (leaving a good amount of room between each circle).  You can continue to roll out your dough until you’ve used it all up.  The website I got this recipe from said this should make about 24 cookies; I got about 18, but I got kind of lazy.

6.  Place no more than half a teaspoon of filling in the center of each cookie.  Generally speaking, I’ve seen Hamantaschen come in a few very specific flavors – apricot, raspberry, date, poppyseed and prune.  I decided to break free of expectations and use three kinds of preserves I found in my fridge – fig, raspberry-apricot (close enough), and blueberry.  This turned out to be a wonderful idea, and therefore I encourage you to get creative with flavors.  In my imagination, we’ll eventually all band together and open an artisinal vegan hamantaschen shop in Williamsburg.

7.  Now’s the tough part – shaping.  Squish the perimeter of your cookie as much as you can and then shape them into triangles.  If there is one thing I learned in this experiment, it’s that pinching the corners is not enough.  It’s best to fold them as tightly as you can, being careful to make the edges tall enough to trap the fruit filling inside.  It’s an art form, one I am clearly still perfecting.

picstitch

8.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Serve whenever.

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Stef Schwartz is the Music Editor and self-appointed Vapid Fluff Editor at Autostraddle.com. She's a rock'n'roll jack-of-all-trades, vegan crusader and legit professional weirdo. She lives with her cat Scully in the wilds of Los Angeles, where she writes terrible dance music, drinks quality bourbon and misses New York City. Follow her on twitter.

Stef has written 104 articles for us.

32 Comments

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    OMFG YOU LITERALLY READ MY MIND! I am going to this Purim gathering on Friday and I didn’t even want to go because I didn’t want to hang out with people eating hamantaschen that I don’t want to eat. OMG, why didn’t I think of this?? Thank you so much. <3

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    A young woman lives her life passing as something she isn’t to protect herself from oppression, and finds the courage to come out and stand up for her rights and the rights of others like her. Any other queer women identify with Esther?

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    Personally, I nominate poppyseed for the Hamantaschen Hall of Fame! Hey, if you’re in NYC, go to Moishe’s Bakery on Second Ave. in the east village and buy a few for me. Just don’t nash it all up before you send it my way. Mmmm

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    Also, I’m glad someone adressed the awesomeness of Vashti. I remember being young and Vashti was always portrayed in a negative light in the story of Purim. But then as I got older and found out the actual story, I was like yo guys, she is awesome, why aren’t we celebrating her too?!

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    Great, now I have to make hamantaschen today. I want to make some catholic/jewish mash-up holiday where people who aren’t religious can still have all the cultural treats. Also, I can’t think of them as elf-ears or it will make me sad, so I’m gonna stick with the hat version.

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    random story- my uncles actually have a rugulach/hamentaschen/other baked goods business called chewy’s. they sell to grocery stores. are any of us in my family jewish in any conceivable way? nope. they’re iranian muslims who learned the recipes from a bakery they used to run in new york. sometimes they send us rugulach, it’s great. life/my family is weird in a great way sometimes.

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