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"Qu'est-ce que c'est?" - The Hamantash

By Minna A in Food on Mar 18, 2011 6:00PM

You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate the tradition that runs deep through their food dishes. For Chicago’s large Jewish population, celebrations for Purim begin at sundown tomorrow. Closely associated with this holiday are the hamantash (also known as "המן־טאַש" or "homentash") pastries, a folded triangular cookie traditionally filled with fruits or nuts, but lately taking on more modern flavors like chocolate or caramel.

The triangular pastries have roots in history, as the Purim holiday traditionally calls for people to use up all their flour in the home before Passover begins next month. Hamantashes are formed in their tri-cornered shape and nicknamed the “ears of Haman,” Haman being the villan of the Purim holiday.

Hamentash, made with care, are unbelievably tasty. The dense but crumbly sugar cookies are seasonally available at some of Chicagoland’s best bakeries.

Bennison’s in Evanston has the largest selection of hamantash, each pastry spanning the size of one's palm. Their apple hamantash is the best of their varieties, filled with sweet apple chunks and sprinkled with cinnamon. Kaufman's in Skokie has the best pastry base, with each bite-sized nibble melting into the sweet apricot flavor. For a departure from traditional flavors of apricot, prune and/or poppy seed, make a stop in Steve’s Deli of River North, where they offer chocolate hamantash pastries as well.