The Jewish holiday of Purim is just around the corner - it will be celebrated in communities worldwide, beginning at sundown on March 20th. Like most Jewish holidays, Purim has its own symbolic foods and traditions. We eat hamentashen - triangle-shaped cookies, which remind us of the 3-cornered hat worn by Haman (the villain in the Purim story). I grew-up eating Hamentashen, which I baked with my mom, rolling the dough on our kitchen table, lining-up sheet pans full of these delicacies.
Each year, we baked dozens of these delicious cookies, filling them with jams or pie fillings (apricot, cherry, prune and poppy seed). My sister & I would dress-up as Queen Esther (the beautiful Queen of the story) and we would deliver baskets of our homemade hamentashen to my aunts and uncles. These food gifts, called Mishloah Manot, are among the common practices for observing the holiday. We continued the dress-up fun at our synagogue’s annual Purim carnival, where we played games, got our face painted, and ate more hamentashen than should be allowed in one day!
While I don’t plan to dress-up as Queen Esther next week, I will be making plenty of homemade hamentashen to share with my family and friends! Notice that I didn’t write that I’d be baking the hamentashen…that’s because my favorite recipe for these symbolic treats is raw! No ovens or baking involved!!!
I love to bake, but I also really enjoy the challenge of creating a raw dessert recipe. A raw recipe simply is one that does not involve heating the ingredients over 118 degrees. Therefore, eggs are not used, as they must be baked to a higher temperature to be safe to consume. Typically, raw desserts are made completely of plant-based ingredients, which are safe (and pleasurable) to eat in their natural form. They are free of dairy and almost always gluten-free, as well (check the ingredients, but this recipe is grain-free and naturally gluten-free). One of my favorite things about making raw desserts is the ability to eat the dough right off of my fingers!
The dough for my Double-Chocolate Hamentashen comes together quickly and easily with the help of a food processor. The ingredients are minimal, so they must be of the highest quality, to let their taste shine. A little patience goes a long way when it comes time to roll-out a raw dough; keeping the dough cool and from drying-out is important for optimal results. For my filling, I use a blend of dates which I blend into a paste consistency with a big spoonful of a prepared chocolate spread. If this is too much chocolate for you, no worries - use a fruit spread in its place - the hamentashen will still be scrumptious!
Whether or not you celebrate Purim, I encourage you to give this recipe a try. Developing a knack for making raw desserts will serve you well with the summer months approaching…no need to heat-up your kitchen by baking cookies, when you can whip-up desserts without an oven! And if you’d like to see more raw dessert recipes, let me know, and I’ll be glad to share more of my creations with you in the upcoming months.
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Ingredients: (use organic whenever possible)
1 C raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 C dates, pitted
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 T raw cacao powder (I use Navitas Organics)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 C dates, pitted and soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
Grind the pepitas into flour. This is best done with a dry container (made for a high-speed blender) or with a seed mill. Be careful not to over-grind and turn the seeds into a paste! Once all of the seeds are finely ground into flour, measure 3/4 C of the flour and place in the bowl of a food processor. (save the remaining flour for another use)
Add the dates to the flour and process until the dates begin to break down into smaller pieces. Add the vanilla extract, cacao powder and salt. Process until the dates and flour become a cohesive mixture - this will take several minutes. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically, if needed.
Remove the dough, it may be crumbly, and use your hands to form it into a ball. Squeeze the dough together to release some of the oils from the seeds, to make a smooth dough. Place dough in a bowl, cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Place the soaked dates and chocolate spread in the food processor and blend, stopping the machine periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue to process until a smooth mixture is formed. Remove from the food processor to a small bowl, cover and chill until ready to proceed.
Make the Hamentaschen. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Using your hands, take a quarter of the dough and roll it into a ball. Place the ball between two sheets of waxed paper and roll into a thin dough (approximately 1/8-inch thick), using a rolling pin. Use a 3-inch cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles. Place the circles on the prepared baking sheet and continue to roll and cut the dough until all of the dough is used.
Using a teaspoon, roll the filling into 14 balls. Put one ball in the middle of each circle of dough. With slightly damp hands, fold the dough into a triangular shape, pinching the edges closed. Once all of the dough is filled and shaped, place the baking sheet into the freezer for at least 2 hours to chill.
Recipe yields 14 hamentaschen
Hamentaschen can be made many days in-advance. Keep frozen, in a covered container, until ready to serve. Remove from the freezer 20 minutes prior to serving
Substitute almond flour for the pepita flour, if desired
Fill the hamentashen with your preferred jam, nut or seed butter, if desired