The author wondered why chocolate was usually left out of the dough of a classic Purim treat. Photograph by Tami Ganeles/Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.
Chocolate is in many ways the quintessential example of a food that is both Old and New World. Cacao, the bean from which chocolate is derived, was well known to both the Aztec and the Mayan peoples. It was a bitter powder ground from pods and prized for its alleged aphrodisiac properties.
The Spanish Conquistadors took cocoa back to Europe with them, where they concocted a wildly popular drink with the addition of sugar (also a New World food) and copious amounts of milk or cream. There you have it: the invention of the hot chocolate we would likely recognize today.
Sephardic Jews, so often the vectors of flavors around the world, both as traders and through their post-Inquisition disbursal, brought chocolate with them to France and arguably, to Italy — and perhaps even eventually back to the Americas. The dough of Old World hamantaschen — the cookie that defines Purim for so many Ashkenazim — has staunchly fallen into two camps: It’s either a cookie with a touch of orange, or a yeast dough. I adore both, but wondered why chocolate was usually left out of the mix, leaving all the cook’s creativity for the fillings. The way I see it, sometimes a fat pinch of global fun is in order. So for the festive holiday of Purim, I decided it was time to create a couple of new cookies that crisscross the Old and New Worlds.
Here are two recipes for chocolate hamantaschen filled with delicious fun: Chocolate-Nutella Halvah Hamantaschen and Chili-Chocolate Hamantaschen With Dulce de Leche Filling.
Tami Ganeles-Weiser is a food anthropologist, trained chef, recipe developer, writer and founder of TheWeiserKitchen.com.