Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Inside-Out Carrot Cake Hamentashn with Cream Cheese Filling

A few years ago I made this carrot jam filling for hamentashn.  It was not carrot cakes, nor carrot halwa, nor carrot pies (a venerable and beloved dessert before English cookery encountered the pumpkin and everything changed forever), nor even the carrot ice cream that Marya Dmitrievna thought was laughably implausible that inspired me.  It was those carrot-shaped bags.  As soon as I saw them I just had to fill them with some kind of carrot-based shalekhmones.  The compulsion was no more resistible than fate itself.

This made me think of A Girl of the Limberlost. Our heroine, Elnora, has a troubled relationshipwith her mother, who is unkind and sometimes abusive because she believes Elnora to be responsible for her father's death.  But, when Elnora (Mrs. Comstock was too conservative even to allow her poor daughter her fair share of vowels) gets a special lunch box from her uncle, Mrs Comstock is swept up in a frenzy of baking and cooking to make a lunch that will live up to the box in which it will be transported.  The moment when Elnora unpacks her lunch is unforgettable:

Mrs. Comstock was up early, and without a word handed Elnora the case as she left the next morning.
“Thank you, mother,” said Elnora, and went on her way.
She walked down the road looking straight ahead until she came to the corner, where she usually entered the swamp. She paused, glanced that way and smiled. Then she turned and looked back. There was no one coming in any direction. She followed the road until well around the corner, then she stopped and sat on a grassy spot, laid her books beside her and opened the lunch box. Last night's odours had in a measure prepared her for what she would see, but not quite. She scarcely could believe her senses. Half the bread compartment was filled with dainty sandwiches of bread and butter sprinkled with the yolk of egg and the remainder with three large slices of the most fragrant spice cake imaginable. The meat dish contained shaved cold ham, of which she knew the quality, the salad was tomatoes and celery, and the cup held preserved pear, clear as amber. There was milk in the bottle, two tissue-wrapped cucumber pickles in the folding drinking-cup, and a fresh napkin in the ring. No lunch was ever daintier or more palatable; of that Elnora was perfectly sure. And her mother had prepared it for her! “She does love me!” cried the happy girl. “Sure as you're born she loves me; only she hasn't found it out yet!”

And Mrs C. continues to come up with brilliant, multi-course lunches every day, and adds more to share:
Elnora went down the road thinking of the city children with whom she probably would divide. Of course, the bridge would be occupied again. So she stopped and opened the box. Undoubtedly Mrs. Comstock was showing Margaret Sinton the "frills." The cake was still fresh, and there were four slices. The sandwiches had to be tasted twice before Elnora discovered that beechnuts had been used in a peanut recipe, and they were a great improvement. There were preserved strawberries in the cup, potato salad with mint and cucumber in the dish, and a beautifully browned squab from the stable loft.

Beechnut butter!  And that potato cucumber salad with mint would not be out of place at a hipster gastropub in Bushwick.  Who knew 19th century Indiana was so cool?

Of course we identify with hungry neglected children finding food and kindness after long deprivation.  We fell for this hook in Harry Potter, Sara Crewe, Oliver Twist, and I don't know how many others, but this time I can see things from Mrs. Comstock's point of view as well.  That multi-compartmental lunch box is an articulated womb, a challenge you can't decline.

Having made carrot filling, I wanted to try turning the hamentashn inside-out (as one does with pumpkin hamentashn to make inside-out pumpkin hamentashn). Carrot dough suggested cream cheese filling.  I added some farmers' cheese and a yolk to make the filling less melty.

Carrot Cake Dough for Hamentashn

20 ounces (about 5 cups) whole wheat pastry flour (best with part whole wheat and part all-purpose)
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon ginger
12 ounces (3 sticks) butter
1 egg
1 cup orange juice
2 or 3 medium carrots, finely shredded, about 6-8 ounces
To make the dough rollable, cutable, and foldable, you will need to grate the carrots very fine.

Mix the dry ingredients together and blend in the butter.  Add the juice, egg, and vanilla to form a dough.  Mix in the shredded carrots and allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator overnight.

Cream Cheese Filling for Hamentashn

8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese
4 ounces farmer cheese
2 ounces (1/2 stick) butter
6 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) confectioners' sugar
1 yolk
(probably good to add one slice white bread, crusts removed, soaked in milk and squeezed out)

Blend everything together in a mixer or processor.  It might be a nice touch to push the farmer cheese through a sieve, but I will not insist.

Heat the oven to 350F
Line sheet pans with parchment.

Working in small batches so that it stays cool, roll the carrot dough to 3/16 inch thick (slightly thicker than usual) and cut into circles.  I recommend cutting larger than usual circles because the carrot shreds will offer some resistance.  Fill with cream cheese filling (do not overfill), and bake for 20-25 minutes or until fragrant and golden brown on the bottom.

More Purim links:

Yeast Dough for Hamentashn 

Orange Juice Dough for Hamentashn

Inside-Out Pumpkin Hamentashn (Pumpkin Seed Pastry with Pumpkin Filling

Pumpkin Hamentashn (with Pumpkin Seed Filling)

Carrot Filling 

Apricot Filling

Poppy Seed Filling

White Poppy Seed Filling

Hemp Seed Filling

Povidl (Prune Filling)

פּאָװידלע Prune Filling (Yiddish)

Chocolate Dough (English)


Vegan Gluten-Free Hamentash Dough

Vegan Gluten-Free Hamentash Dough
 (Yiddish) װעגאַן טײג

Chocolate Dough (Yiddish)

Hamentashn, hamentaschen, homentashen, homentashn, המנטאַשן

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