Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Harosset/ Haroset/ Charoset Hamentashen

Over the weekend I was flicking through my Martha Stewart cookie book and something caught my eye: date triangles.

These evoked in me a certain Proustian sensation. Just as the taste of a Madeleine melting on his lips recalled Proust's childhood, so this image awoke in me the desire to 'taste' two of my favourite Jewish holidays: Purim and Passover.

These triangles are essentially identical to Hamentashen eaten on Purim, minus the traditional poppyseed filling. I'm sure Martha's filling is good, but I knew what I wanted: Passover Charoset/ Haroset / Harosset (I'm going to go with the latter) filling. A sweet, datey, fruity preserve that is rich, fragrant and delicious.

It wasn't rational, this desire. I came home with ten contracts to review. Yet when the tastes of one's childhood beckon, they are to be obeyed. And so these came to be.

I only followed Martha's pastry method (and even then, only vaguely as I am sadly neither in possession of measuring cups nor a mixer). I thought her pastry was very good indeed, but it yielded about a third fewer triangles than it was supposed to (18), so I made it again. And I made my own Harosset filling.

Harosset ingredients

12 dates, pitted and chopped
1 1/2 cup grape juice
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 apple, thinly diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons honey/maple syrup
2 tablespoons orange flower water (yes, two days in a row, but I'm in love)
juice of 1/2 lemon

Harosset directions

1. Place dates in saucepan and pour in grape juice. Allow to simmer.
2. Add diced apple and stir until soft but still has form
3. Add cinnamon and nutmeg, stir in ground almonds and chopped walnuts. Add lemon juice, honey/syrup and orange flower water. If result too think, add grape juice/lemon juice to taste. If too fluid, simmer for longer.
4. This should take about 15-20 minutes to prepare and have a jam-like consistency (should not be runny).

Pastry Ingredients

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
half tablespoon of orange zest (I omitted this - too lazy!)
1/2 cup/ 1 stick butter
2 tablespoons orange flower water (not compulsory)
3 tablespoons ice water
1/2 teaspoon of whole milk
2 tablespoons honey

Pastry Directions

1. In food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt and half zest; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture is crumbly. Combine orange flower water (if using) and ice water; drizzle over mixture. Pulse until dough comes together. Chill, covered for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350F. Form dough into 1 1/2 inch diameter balls, flatten to 3 1/2 inch circles. Place 1 heaped teaspoon of filling on each. Fold sides towards centres, making triangles; press to flatten slightly. Place pastries 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

3. In a small bowl, whisk to combine milk and honey; brush on pastry. Arrange 3 sliced almonds on each pastry. Bake until golden, 30-40 minutes, rotating sheets half way through (I didn't - again, lazy). Transfer pastries to wire rack, brush with glaze again (I didn't, I didn't want the super glazed sticky look). Let stand 15 mins before serving.

I was really pleased with these: they are aromatic and rich, with a soft centre. Hope you enjoy them too!

PS: I ended up with extra Harosset: can't wait to have it on bread tomorrow for breakfast!


Pearl said...

thank you for sharing the history of the traditional treats!

jesse said...

YUM, I'm never heard of these, but they look delicious! Thanks for sharing them!

Selba said...

Interesting to know about this Hamentashen. I would love to try it :)

Sara said...

I'm jewish, so very familiar with charoset and hamentaschen!

Sophie said...

These sound so tasty, especially with that orange flower water!