Monday, February 23, 2015

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Puff Pastry Hamantaschen

If you read any Jewish food blogs these days, you're likely inundated with recipes for hamantaschen - the traditional three-cornered treat for the holiday of Purim. All sorts of fantastical fillings wrapped up in a cookie crust are on offer. But why just play with the filling? Who says the crust must be cookie dough? Nobody, that's who. So if you're in for an adventure and a twist on tradition, try these puff pastry hamantaschen - store-bought dough, delicious no-bake filling, pure bliss. 

The concept here is pretty straightforward - cut out triangular shapes from the puff pastry dough, and layer a cut-out triangle on top to create a well for filling. I used a knife but if you have triangular cookie cutters in the right shapes, that would make it even easier. What's unique about making these hamantaschen is that the fillings must be all no-bake, unlike most traditional versions. So you can go crazy with fillings that otherwise wouldn't work - like lemon curd or chocolate mousse. I went with a whipped chocolate peanut butter ganache for full deliciousness. It sounds complicated but it's very simple, three ingredients, and a little extra step resulting in an airy, rich filling.
The centers of the hamantaschen may puff up a little too much, even with the layered cut-outs, but it's very simple to press down gently and deflate some of the center layers to make room for more filling - and you won't regret it! It's important not to skip the egg wash and sugar step before baking - the egg to give it a shiny golden brown coat, and the sugar adds a touch of sweetness to an otherwise unsweetened dough. This filling also isn't particularly sweet, so you need the hit of sugar. As with any recipe including puff pastry, work with - and bake - the dough when it's completely cold - so if you need to keep half in the fridge and get back to it later, that's ideal.

1 cup cream*
12 ounces (340g) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed completely
1 egg, lightly beaten
demerara sugar, for sprinkling

Heat the cream until just before the point of boiling, Pour it over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 3-4 minutes. Use a whisk to mix the cream and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in the peanut butter until fully incorporated. Set aside. 
Roll out the puff pastry just slightly. Cut into even strips, about 1-1"2 thick. Using a sharp knife or pastry wheel/pizza wheel, cut the dough into even triangles. 
In half of the triangles, cut out a center triangle. Brush the whole triangles with the beaten egg and layer a cut-out triangle on top of it. Repeat with remaining triangles.
Brush the tops of all the hamantaschen with beaten egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake on 400 F until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Let cool. If necessary, gently deflate the inner triangle to make room for filling.
Take your peanut butter chocolate ganache - it should have sat at room temperature for at least half an hour - and use a hand mixer to beat the mixture until it turns a lighter color and is airy. Pipe the mixture into the centers of your cooled hamantaschen. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 

*you can use soy milk to make them pareve, but you will need a smaller amount. start with half and add more as necessary.


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