Make this year’s mishloah manot extra special with the following recipes offered to us by chef Miki Shemo. He makes many versions of hamentashen for Purim in his bakeries, but he also offers other filled cookies that are traditionally served for the holiday.

NUT AND POPPY CRESCENTS
Makes 14

For the pastry


2 cups flour
150 gr. soft butter
1⁄2 cup powdered sugar
1⁄4 cup milk
1 large egg
Zest from 1⁄2 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄2 tsp. salt
25 gr. (1⁄2 cube) fresh yeast or 1⁄2 package of granulated yeast (shimrit)

For the filling


1 cup milk
50 gr. butter, cubed
11⁄4 cups sugar (250 gr.)
1⁄4 cup ground walnuts
1 Tbsp. farina
3 cups freshly ground poppy seeds (270 gr.)
1 beaten egg for glazing

In the mixer bowl, using the dough hook, mix together all the pastry ingredients except the yeast about 5 minutes until smooth. Add the yeast and continue mixing 1 minute.

Place dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

To prepare filling: Heat milk, butter and sugar until sugar dissolves. Lower heat and add farina and nuts, mix for 1 minute and remove from heat. Add poppy seeds, mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To shape and fill: Divide the filling into 14 parts and roll each part into 8- cm. long, 2-cm. thick cylinders.

Divide the dough into 14 equal parts and shape into balls. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each ball into an oval-shaped 1⁄2-cm. thick leaf. Place a cylinder of the filling along one side of the pastry leaf and roll. Close side and bend to create a crescent shape.

Place the crescents on two lined baking sheets and let rise for 1⁄2 hour to 1 hour.

Heat oven to 190º, brush crescents with egg and bake 20 minutes or until color is dark.

TURKISH DELIGHT COOKIES
Makes 40

The pastry itself has no added sugar, but with the filling these are just sweet enough. To make the cookies slightly sweeter, you may sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Note: When adding the flour to the dough, do not add all the flour at once. The kneading time to be as brief as possible, so adding the flour at two separate times helps.

250 gr. soft butter
150 gr. sour cream
4 egg yolks
3 cups flour
1⁄2 package baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
250 gr. Turkish delight (available in spice shops and some supermarkets)
1⁄2 cup powdered sugar

Knead together in a mixer, using the dough hook, the butter, sour cream, egg yolks and vanilla at slow-medium speed until smooth. Add flour and baking powder at two separate times. Knead until smooth, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for three to four hours.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface until about 5 mm. thick. You will get approximately a 30x40-cm. leaf. Divide the pastry into two 40-cm. long rectangles.

Roll the Turkish delight into two narrow 40-cm. long cylinders.

Place each cylinder on each pastry rectangle and wrap the Turkish delight with the pastry.

Place the two filled pastry cylinders on a lined baking sheet. Cut the cylinders into 2-cm. cookies, using a plastic knife.

Bake at a preheated 170º oven for 20 minutes until light golden in color. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar.

NUT-FILLED MA’AMUL

Ma’amul is a filled shortbread cookie scented with rose water. It originated in North African Jewish cuisine and became a part of Israeli cooking. The most common ones are stuffed with dates, but this is a recipe for nut-filled ones that you will love.

4 cups flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 package baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
350 gr. butter
1⁄2 cup oil
1⁄2 cup water
1 tsp. rose water

Filling

2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 sachet vanilla sugar
1 Tbsp. sugar

Place the dry ingredients – flour, semolina, baking powder and butter – in a mixer bowl and mix at low speed for 5 minutes. Start adding the liquids – vanilla, oil, water and rose water – gradually, while mixing, until a smooth dough forms. Leave the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave dough to rest for 1 hour.

Mix together all the filling ingredients.

Divide the dough into small 30-gr. balls. Create a well in each ball using your finger and turning the ball around the finger until the walls of the ball are about 3 mm. thick. Fill with the nut mixture, close and decorate the top with a special tool or a fork. Bake at 170º for 20 minutes.

Serve dusted with powdered sugar.

Recipes and photos courtesy of Miki Shemo Bakeries


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