There are only two kinds of hamentaschen for those who don’t mess around: moon and prune.
This is a truth I learned as a small child, growing up in a home where, for whatever reason, the Two Kinds (let’s capitalize them for convenience) were the Only Kinds.
Moon = poppy seed. Prune = dried plums.
(the word moon = my father’s variation on the Yiddish/german mohn)
A few years back, my sister, who’s a baker, offered for sale a pastry she’d made with “dried plums” because it sounded way classier than saying “prunes.” It sure does. In Hebrew, there’s no distinction. “Dried plums” is the only thing you can call them.
But they do mess around a LOT, with all kinds of flavours, from chocolate (okay) to halva (kind of okay) and many others… but they also don’t call them hamentashen – they’re called oznei haman; haman’s ears. For those who don’t mess around, they’re hamentaschen – haman’s pockets.
My way or the highway. A lesson I learned from my father, who considered every type of ice cream that wasn’t vanilla “polluted.”
As a kid, I had to learn the difference between the Two Kinds very early because they look so similar. Both kind of dark and almost chocolatey-looking. But poppy tastes of horror and disgustingness, while prune tastes fruity and bright (thanks to citrus, which is added in almost every recipe to boost the dried-plum taste).
Despite all the different kinds of hamentashen in bakeries around here these days, prune are seemingly impossible to buy… while the dank, disgusting moon hamentashen are everywhere.
Folks here LOoooove their poppy seeds on the inside of everything, it seems. For me, poppy is strictly an “exterior” phenomenon.
So this is me, toiling away to pit two bags of prunes (dried plums), boil them with some lemon zest and fresh Jaffa orange juice, and purée them in my Israeli blender into some semblance of lekvar, the jammy filling that tomorrow will become part of my annual hamentashen.
With two of my children gone, I’m still not sure who-all is going to eat them. You have to be careful, when it comes to the eating of the prune hamentashen. There’s only a dollop of filling in each, but you don’t want to venture into the “too much prune” territory.
One year, my first husband decided that prunes’ reputation was ill-deserved and that he’d take a few to snack on. He loved them! He ate a whole bunch! And discovered, miserably, that it really was true what they say about prunes.
Not wanting to discover this for myself, I always a) urge moderation, and b) make some other type of hamentasch that I can snack on freely without incurring the Wrath of Prunes. No idea what kind it will be this year, but a search of my past posts reveals some mighty tempting prune alternatives…
- pie-filling cherry cake-mix hamentaschen in 2011
- halva and almond paste in 2013
- ginger/cherry (weird!) in 2010
- ginger/chocolate (delicious!) in 2010
Whatever hamentaschen you’re making, moon, prune, or one of the heretical varieties, I wish you all the sweetness, light and joy of this happy, happy Purim season.