I’ve been making the same tried and true hamantashen recipe for the past 15 years. It’s just good. And when my family saw me playing around with these babies – a strangely foreign, darker version of their traditional selves – more than one member voiced the “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage.
But much like the urge to go out and buy a new dress even while there are several hanging in the closet, I couldn’t help it and got busy.
The events of the Purim story were orchestrated by G-d in a hidden way, through a turnabout of events. We commemorate that hiddenness through many of our customs – wearing costumes or masks and drinking wine. Wine “uninhibits” and allows the true, hidden essence of a person (and the Torah they learn) to come out freely. It just so happens that this works with cherries as well. However sweet those dark beauties were, they are that much richer and sweeter after getting a bath in some dry red wine. Laced with a hint of cinnamon, this is a luscious filling that any hamantash would be proud to showcase, but would be just as special in a sweet crepe or as a topping for ice cream (and therefore you should double the drunken cherry filling and keep half for your other desserts!).
Something cocoa-chocolaty to house those cherries…but not too sweet the likes of a cherry cordial. If you like, you can drizzle some melted chocolate over the baked hamantashen or dip halfway. Either way, perfect with a cup of mint tea on Purim…or before!
Drunken Cherry Chocolate Hamantashen
Yield: 5-6 dozen
3/4 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk or soymilk
1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
3½ cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa (Dutch)
4 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
For Drunken Cherry Filling:
12 oz. frozen dark pitted cherries, defrosted
1/3 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Cream the oil and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until a grainy paste forms. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla until well blended. In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter, a little at a time, mixing just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
While dough chills, prepare the filling:
Combine all filling ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir to blend until all cornstarch is dissolved and no lumps are visible. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat to cool. (DO AHEAD: This can be made up to a week in advance).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Divide dough into 4 parts. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board (it helps to flour your rolling pin as well) into a very thin round – about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Using a 3-3½” diameter cookie cutter or glass, cut circles in the dough. Place 1 cherry (with a little of the sauce) in the center of each circle. Shape into a triangle by folding 2 sides of the circle to the center and pinch together at the sides. Fold remaining side up to the center and pinch together at the sides. Some of the filling should be visible in the center. Place hamantaschen 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet (pinch again to secure folds if needed). Bake for 13-15 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Repeat with remaining dough, using up dough scraps as well. Transfer baked hamantashen to racks to cool.