Purim, the most raucous holiday of the Jewish year is coming up on March 20-21. The Biblical story goes that once upon a time, Queen Esther of Persia (who was secretly a Jew) saved the Jews from persecution by her husband the King and his evil political advisor, Haman. On Purim, we commemorate being saved with (mandatory!) drinking, dressing up in costume, storytelling (and making loud noises when Haman’s name is mentioned).
I don’t attend Purim festivities every year, but I do make a batch of Hamantaschen cookies. They are triangular, jam-filled cookies that symbolize Haman’s ears or his three-cornered hat. Each year, my tradition is create a new take on Hamantaschen. This year, I’ve created Hawaii-inspired macadamia shortbread cookies filled with guava jam, an ode to my Dad’s upbringing in Hawaii.
Makes: About 20 cookies
Total Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Cook Time: 20 minutes
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup salted and roasted macadamia nuts, crushed into such small pieces (in a food processor) it’s on the verge of becoming macadamia nut butter
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup guava jam (I used this one)
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Mix, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix again.
On low speed, slowly add in half the flour. Add in the macadamia nuts, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add in the rest of the flour. Mix just until dough sticks together and everything is well incorporated. Make a ball with the dough, then flatten it into a disc shape. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. Flour a clean surface, and turn the oven on to 350°F.
Roll out the disc onto the lightly floured surface to about 1/4 in. thickness. The dough will crack in some areas, and it might also stick lightly to your surface. Don’t worry. Using a 3 1/2-inch circular cookie cutter, cut as many circles as you can (that are not cracked). Use a pastry scraper or fish spatula to gently remove the circles from the surface and place them on parchment paper.
Fill each circle of dough with a teaspoon of jam and see the GIF above for folding instructions. Only work on one disc at a time. If you cut all of them and fill them at once, the dough will start to dry out before you fold, making this step more difficult.
You’ll end up with scraps of dough. Roll them back into a ball and roll it out again to make more rounds. If the dough cracks when you’re folding, you can also use your fingers to seal any cracks the filling can leak out of in the oven.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, rotate the baking sheets, then cook for 10 more minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack (make sure not to skip this step as the filling can get extremely hot in the oven) and enjoy. Shaloha and Chag Purim Sameach!