The Jewish festival of Purim falls on 8 March and one of the traditional things to make, and eat, are these little triangular cookies that are filled with a sweet centre. A hamantash supposedly symbolises the defeated enemy of the Jewish people, resembling the hat or ears of Haman (depends who you talk to), the villain of Purim. I may not be Jewish myself but there’s nothing to hold me back from making great food from whatever culture.
The recipe for the pastry comes from a cookbook named Monday Morning Cooking Club, compiled by six ladies from Sydney that have been cooking together every Monday morning since 2006. Nice one, girls! I’ve made the filling myself, taking flavours and ingredients from Persia and giving a final whisp of orange blossom pariya, Persian fairy floss. The cookie isn’t overly sweet and has a nice figgy flavour, with a hint of orange blossom and crunch from the pistachio and fig seeds.
Makes about 20
Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a baking tray and set aside.
Cut the figs in half lengthways, dip into the vanilla sugar and arrange on the baking tray, cut-side up. Very lightly drizzle the balsamic syrup over the figs. Bake for 2 hours until caramelised and soft.
Remove the figs from the tray when cool enough to handle and chop roughly. In a mixing bowl combine the chopped figs, lemon zest and orange blossom water. Add 2-3 teaspoons of the sugar and taste for sweetness. If the figs were very ripe you shouldn’t need more sugar. Add the ground pistachio’s and mix it all together. Set aside while you make the pastry.
To make the dough, combine all the dough ingredients either in a food processor or by hand. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
Roll the dough out to a 3mm thickness. With an 8-9 cm cookie cutter or glass, cut out circles from the dough. Place a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of each disc. Bring the three sides of the circle up into the centre (leaving a small opening at the top) to form a triangular pastry, pinching the three joined edges to seal.
Place on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180°C.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden.