Purim is coming, and, like every year, its signature treat, hamantaschen, is taking on a new twist.

The holiday starts this year on the evening of March 20 and lasts through the evening of March 21.

“I want Jews to celebrate holidays with the desserts their ancestors ate, yet improve upon the traditional recipes. Thanks to social media, bakers often showcase their creations and hamantaschen have become an Instagram hit.”

Here are several tips to customize hamantaschen:

  • Find a recipe for the dough you and your family will love.
  • Add an extract or flavoring from high-quality liquors, coffee syrups or food coloring
  • Knead seeds, chopped nuts, sprinkles or nonpareils into the dough
  • Experiment with new and trendy fillings or those from your favorite desserts. Pies, sandwich cookies and almost any cream-filled dessert can provide inspiration.

Granola Hamantaschen (Pareve)

Makes 60 cookies

Prep Time: Dough 5 minutes, roll and shape 20 minutes

Cook Time: 14-15 minutes

Storage: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.

Advanced Prep: May be made 3 days in advance or frozen

Ingredients:

Dough:

4 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

½ cup canola or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

½ cup whole-wheat flour

dash salt

1½ cups granola, pulsed in food processor for 15 seconds, until no whole oats remain (recipe below for homemade granola)

Filling:

¾ cup apricot preserves

¼ cup raspberry jam

½ cup chopped dried apricots

½ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

2-3 tablespoons granola for sprinkling on top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, blend together the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla; mix well.

Add the two types of flour and salt, and mix until the dough comes together.

Add the crushed granola and mix well. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for one hour to firm up.

To make the filling, in a small bowl combine the apricot preserves and raspberry jam, chopped apricots and cranberries. Cover and set aside.

Line 3 large cookie sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats, or bake it batches. Divide the dough in half.

Take another two pieces of parchment paper and sprinkle flour on one, place one dough half on top, and then sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough.

Place the second piece of parchment on top of the dough and roll on top of the parchment to roll out the dough until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Every few rolls, peel back the top parchment and sprinkle a little more flour on the dough.

Use a 3-inch drinking glass or round cookie to cut the dough into circles. Use a metal flat blade spatula to lift the circle and place on another spot on the parchment, sprinkled with a little flour.

Place heaping ½ teaspoon of filling in the center and then fold in the three sides towards the middle to form a triangle, leaving a small opening in the center. Pinch the three sides together very tightly. Place on the prepared cookie sheets.

Repeat with the remaining dough and roll, and cut any dough scraps you have, making sure to sprinkle little flour under and over the dough before you roll.

Sprinkle a little granola on top of the jam filling. Before you bake the cookies, pinch all of the edges a second time to seal them tightly.

Bake for 14 to 15 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly browned.

Slide the parchment onto wire racks to cool.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.

Granola (Pareve)

Makes 6 cups; you will have extra to nosh on.

Ingredients:

3 cups oats, not the quick-cooking kind

1 cup dried coconut flakes

1 cup pecan halves, chopped into ½-inch pieces

½ cup cashews, chopped into ½-inch pieces

⅓ cup sliced almonds

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup honey

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper, making sure the paper goes ½ inch up the sides.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, pecans, cashews, almonds, cinnamon and salt.

Place the honey, oil and brown sugar into a glass measuring cup or microwave safe bowl, and heat in the microwave oven for 45 seconds, or until the honey and sugar can be dissolved. Stir well. Pour over the oat mixture and toss to coat.

Spread evenly on the prepared baking pan and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the oats and nuts are browned. Let cool on the pan for 30 minutes.

Store in a freezer bag or airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Gluten-Free Hamantaschen (Pareve)

Makes 40 

I had experimented with gluten-free flour mixes without success until I tried the King Arthur brand, a combination of white rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch and brown rice flour. These hamantaschen are whiter in appearance than typical hamantaschen. In addition, you need to bake them until they are browner on the bottom than typical ones. Wait until they cool before eating them because they are too crumbly when they’re still warm; they are much better after they harden up.

Dough:

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup canola or vegetable oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

3½ cups or 24-oz. package of gluten-free flour mix, plus extra for dusting

Filling:

1 cup fruit jam or preserves, canned apricot or poppy-seed pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla; mix well.

Add the baking powder, xanthan gum and flour mix, and use a wooden spoon to mix until the dough comes together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up.

Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, or plan to bake in batches. Divide the dough in half.

Take two pieces of parchment paper and sprinkle some gluten-free flour mix on one, place one dough half on top, and then sprinkle a little more of the mix on top of the dough. Place the second piece of parchment on top of the dough and roll on top of the parchment until the dough is ¼-inch thick or thinner. These cookies come out best when rolled thin. Every few rolls, peel back the top parchment and sprinkle a little more flour on the dough.

Use a 2- to 3-inch drinking glass or round cookie-cutter to cut the dough into circles. Use a metal flat-blade spatula to lift up the circle of dough and place it on another part of the flour sprinkled parchment paper.

Place up to 1 teaspoon of jam in the center of the dough circle and then fold the three sides in toward the middle to form a triangle, leaving a small opening in the center. Pinch the three sides together very tightly. Place on the prepared cookie sheets.

Repeat with the remaining dough, and roll and cut any dough scraps, making sure to sprinkle a little flour under and over the dough before you roll.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned. Let the cookies cool completely on the cookie sheet.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.

Recipes come courtesy of thekosherbaker.com.

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