Bob’s Red Mill’s United States of Cookies: Cranberry Walnut Hamantaschen (RI)

Recipe source: https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/how-to-make/rhode-island-cranberry-walnut-stuffed-shortbread-cookies/

Being an atheist raised vaguely Christian, I’ve never had hamantaschen before, much less made them. I know it’s nowhere near Purim, but it’s also nowhere near Christmas, which many of the bakers who submitted these recipes seemed to have in mind. In fact, some readers seemed to be confused and thought the United States of Cookies was a list of each state’s Christmas cookies, as evidenced by this review from the Bob’s Red Mill site on this recipe:

With the wealth of actual Christmas cookies popular in the state of Rhode Island, this choice boggles my mind. It’s not remotely traditional for Christmas or local to the state. Why not “reinterpret” any of the dozen varieties of Christmas cookies baked by RI’s Italian community, for example? I appreciate trying something new, but as the previous commenter wrote, this is the wrong cookie for the wrong time of year.

Not to read too much into this, but I’m gonna: this sounds to me like a thinly veiled “why are you pushing this Jew cookie when we have cookies by good Christian Italians?” It just struck me as odd and rubbed me the wrong way. Also don’t rate a recipe poorly just because you’re an antisemite.

Anyway, hamantaschen: this website has a good discussion of their history and significance.

The recipe said to add the flour gradually with the mixer running, the perfect opportunity to let my son participate:

Very soft dough.
The dough was so soft that there was no way to keep the dough log from developing a flat side.

I was supposed to chill the dough for “at least three hours” which of course turned into the next day…

The dough was very stiff, and I wondered how I was going to manage to pinch them together without cracking the dough, but in the warm weather the dough softened quickly, almost too much while I made the filling.

Cranberries, walnuts, sugar, ginger, and orange juice.
Not the prettiest, but not bad for a Gentile? I promise my challah is more attractive.
Post-bake. Not much color difference on top.

Overall impressions

The shortbread is bland, which would be good for a very sweet or intense filling, but even with sweetened dried cranberries (because I don’t know where anyone finds unsweetened ones and I’ve looked at three organic supermarkets in the past) it’s not enough. The texture is so crumbly it disintegrates in your mouth like you just had a spoonful of flour (and not much more flavorful). That may be a result of excessive shortening from adding flour at the speed of a two-year-old and mixing constantly. Thumbs down on this one (though my husband said folks at his work appreciated them).

Now where are those Italian Christmas cookies?

All photos by Amber Sutton

Originally published at bakeonthru.wordpress.com.

Leave a Reply