Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Purim! Hamantashen Cupcakes

Its that time of year again!  Purim sneaks up on me every year... and then Passover is right around the corner!  Where does the time go?  Ok, enough cliches.  Moving on...

Quick Purim tutorial: There was once an evil king(Achashverosh) and his more evil adviser(Haman).  The evil adviser hated Jews and convinced the king that he wanted to kill all the Jews in his kingdom.  But, the king had unwittingly married a Jewish woman(Esther) who was wonderful and beautiful... aren't we all?  Esther also had a very wise and devout brother named Mordechai who endeared himself to the king with his honesty.  When Esther found out about the plot against her people she revealed herself to the king as a Jew and unveiled the evil adviser's plot.  The king had just learned how much he liked Jews (Esther and Mordechai) and he was very angry.  Haman was hung on the very gallows he had built for Mordechai.  Unfortunately, the plot to kill the Jews had already gone into motion, but the king allowed the Jews the chance to defend themselves (yeah, so generous, right?).  The Jews fought back, won the battle, and not even one Jew was killed during the fighting!  The Jews celebrated their still being alive with feasting and happiness (I have a sneaking suspicion 'happiness' is euphemism for drinking... but anyway).  Mordechai was promoted to be the king's cheif advisor.  He wrote down the whole story so all the Jews in all the world would know what had happened, and it was decided the day should be a day of celebration, and Jewish people should give gifts to eachother and to the poor in gratitude for this miracle.  So we celebrate Purim and other customs have become popular as well.  Kids dress up in costumes and we eat Hamantashen cookies - which are triangle cookies that are shaped like the hat the evil Haman used to wear.  Not sure how that tradition came about, but I'm thinking Haman and the inside of an oven being closely acquainted had something to do with it.

So - this is what Hamantashen cookies look like (Thank you Google Images.  I did not bake these... that will be happening later this week):
 If you've never had one, let me assure you they are delicious!!

I love making hamantashen cookies every year but I also wanted to make a Purim-themed cupcake b/c, well, obvious reasons I guess... love cupcake baking, need theme ideas, etc, etc.  Also, Purim is my favorite holiday - I love costumes, and parties, and cookies!  So, Behold!  The hamantashen cupcake.  The cupcake part is definitely reminiscent of the cookie part of the hamantashen.  I didn't add anything to the jelly filling and used a simple vanilla frosting to make the triangle shape that brings everything together.  When I made these, I removed the centers of the cupcakes and filled them with jelly, and also left the jelly on top.  They were delicious!  But maybe had a little too much jelly for me.  Not that anything was bad about it, but I couldn't taste the cake as much as I wanted to.  So, next time I would leave the cake in tact and put the jelly just on the top.  

For the cupcake:

1 cup soymilk
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup margarine, softened
3/4 cups sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.  
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy milk and vinegar until frothy and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand-mixer for this) cream together the margarine and the sugar.  Add the soy milk and the extracts and mix well.  Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  By this point you can switch to old-school (wooden spoon) style.  Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and back 20-22 minutes until slightly golden on the top.  Cool for 5 minutes in their tins and then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.  If planning on filling with jelly, remove the centers.  If not, leave them alone.

For the frosting:

1/2 cup shortening
2 cups powdered sugar (about)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
1-3 tsp soy milk, if needed

In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream the shortening until smooth.  Sift in the sugar 1 cup at a time until desired sweetness reached.  Add in the vanilla and maple syrup and mix until well combined and fluffy.  You want this frosting to be soft and easy to pipe, so mix in some soy milk as needed to adjust the consistency.  I needed about a tsp and a half.  Pipe triangles onto the tops of your cupcakes.  If you made holes, your triangle needs to go around the holes (duh!).

For the filling:

1/2 cup apricot preserves (has anyone ever seen apricot jam before?  If yes, 1)send it to me! 2) use it... it will be so much easier than the preserves... but that's all I can ever find!)
1/2 cup raspberry jam, seedless if possible 

In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the apricot preserves with a little water to thin it out.  Simmer for a few minutes until thickened and then set aside in a small bowl to cool.  Don't let it cool too much!  You want to keep that smooth consistency (not like the chunkiness of the preserves right out of the jar).  It will look kinda like a gel - that's perfect.

While you're waiting for your apricot to set, wash the saucepan and heat the raspberry jam.  You do not need to add water unless it seems particularly thick.  Just try mixing it around for a while over the heat... it will break down into a nice syrup consistency.  Let cool slightly. 

Using a spoon carefully fill the centers of your cupcake (if you chose that option) and then fill in the jelly inside the frosting triangle to look like a hamantashen!  Pack these in your Mishloach Manot for your all your friends!  Or as usual, feel free to eat them all yourself.  Happy Purim!!

!חַג שָׂמֵחַ