Yesterday, following a beautiful afternoon of warm, winter forest bathing, I came home inspired to bake the big batch of Hamantaschen I had planned a couple days earlier when I prepared a batch of filling. These scrumptious triangular-shaped cookies, eaten on the Jewish holiday of Purim, which coincides with the coming of spring and always with the full moon, during the Jewish month of Adar. Though Purim is considered by many a child-centered holiday with a focus on gift-giving, theater and mask-making, I think of it as being about taking off the masks that we grown-ups wear daily to present ourselves to the world. On the deepest level, I have found Purim to be about turning all I thought I knew and understood to be true, upside down, while gaining new eyes to see and touch life and our true inner selves. Before Covid, Purim was the time for the community to come together to have a wild party and take on a persona through costumes and reenacting in very humorous ways, the story of The Book of Esther. In a deeper sense, allowing more of one's true self to be seen. This year for me, it is a time for deep inner contemplation. There is much to this holiday, but I especially love the idea of Purim being a time when we remove our masks, together in community. Coincidentally, this is the only Jewish holiday which involves lots of alcohol.
My departed Rebbe and teacher, Rabbi Aryeh Hirscfield z'l, used to share the following Chasidic tale about Purim- "When The Messiah comes, the only holiday required to celebrate will be Purim!" He also shared that there is a linguistic connection between Yom Kippur -The Day of Atonement-the holiest Jewish holiday, also being called, "Yom HaKipurim". It gives me much to contemplate, how the holiest day of The Jewish calendar; a time for deep contemplation and fasting, is deeply connected with a holiday celebrated through wild, drunken revelry while reading The Book of Esther, remembering how The Jews of Persia were saved from destruction. It seems we humans spend most of our lives wearing our masks and if through Purim, we can possibly find our true selves; then it is truly sacred.
Here is the recipe for Hamantaschen. Traditionally they are filled with different types of filling-poppy seed, prune, apricot and sour cherry. The below recipe was adapted by my friend, Julia Plevin from, The Primal Palat. and now, I have added some of my own changes such as the filling recipe.
Makes 4.5 dozen (I used organic ingredients)
3 cups Blanched Almond Flour
1.5 cups Arrowroot Flour
1.5 tsp Salt
1/2-3/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup poppy seeds
1.5 cups pitted prunes (check to make sure there are no hidden pits)
1/2 cup ground almonds or walnuts
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
Grated Zest from an Orange
Make filling 1-2 days ahead,
In small- medium saucepan, combine poppy seed and prunes with approximately 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and lower heat and simmer until most liquid is absorbed (about 30-45 minutes based on when the liquid has absorbed.
Next, place the above mixture in either a powerful blender of a food processor and add all remaining ingredients. Blend until mixture is smooth and add a little more water if filling is too dry. It will also thicken up once chilled due to the action of the chia seed. Place in a covered container in the fridge until it's time to bake. You can play with this recipe and use other dried fruit if you like or additional flavorings.
Purim feels a lot like May Day when we gift others with May Baskets. On Purim, we bake Hamantaschen and share them with others in little gift baskets. Good Purim!