Hamantaschen de Panama
In Mexico and parts of Central America you'll find a large Sephardic population from Syria and Lebanon, as well as a substantial Ashkenazic community. Their traditions have been co-mingled, probably through shared celebrations, to produce the following recipe for celebrating Purim.
- Place the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse the machine on and off to combine. Alternatively, combine your mixture in a bowl and mix with a fork.
- Add the margarine and butter. Pulse on and off about 20 times or until the dough resembles a coarse meal.
- Quickly combine the yolk, vanilla, and brandy in a small bowl.
- Immediately add the liquid mixture to the processor while it is running. Mix only until a ball of dough begins to form. Do not over-mix; otherwise your dough will be tough and dry. If the dough looks too dry, consider adding another Tablespoon of Brandy or milk. However, take care not to make the dough too moist, or your cookie will be heavy.
- Turn the dough out on a lightly-floured board and gently knead it into a ball. Divide the dough ball into two or three portions and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, for 20 minutes.
- Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a surface that has been liberally coated with Confectioner's sugar.
- Cut into 3-inch circles and place a small amount of prepared filling in the center of each circle. Shape the dough into triangles, pinching the edges together (for detailed instructions, see "How To Shape a Hamantaschen"). You should have approximately 30 cookies.
- Place the cookies on 2 parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven until golden brown.
- Whenever you make pastry, add liquid, even in small amounts, to bind the flour and fat together. A processor is so efficient that dough might still be formed, but without the liquid your concoction will nonetheless fall apart when it's rolled or baked.
- Pastry that contains alcohol or fruit juice will taste even better the next day, as the flavors need time to combine and become less harsh.
- Always roll sweet pastry in Confectioner's sugar instead of flour. The cornstarch in the sugar prevents sticking and the sugar creates a light, glistening glaze over the finished product.