Eat cookies. Wear costumes. Carouse until there’s no telling the difference between “blessed is Mordechai” and “cursed is Haman.” Give gifts of food and drink to friends, and money to the needy.
This year, I decided to crank up the volume on my holiday consumables, coming up with a killer cookie-and-cocktail pairing: buttery hamantaschen with apricot-pistachio and hazelnut-chocolate fillings and a dangerously delicious take on the classic Old Fashioned, spiked with apricot liqueur.
First, I set myself the goal of creating a quintessential hamantaschen—the poppy-or-preserves-filled three-cornered cookie that’s said to symbolize the three-cornered hat worn by the evil Haman. There are splendid hamantaschen and less splendid hamantaschen, and I wanted to see if I could achieve the former, concocting a dough that would yield a cookie with just the right degree of sweetness and the perfect texture––delicate but not too crumbly.
I love the flavor of apricot, but didn’t want to go with straight preserves—too sweet. So instead I created a mixture of chopped dried apricots and a bit of jam, flavored with a little orange zest. I chopped some lovely green pistachio nuts to sprinkle on top of the filling, and folded them into my first batch.
For a different flavor, I minced hazelnuts and added them to store-bought chocolate-hazelnut spread. If you’ve ever had those blue-and-silver-foil-wrapped Baci chocolates from Italy, this filling tasted remarkably like that when baked into the hamantaschen.
Lastly, I filled some of the cookies with straight apricot preserves, sprinkling chopped hazelnuts on top to add crunch and balance.
The hamantaschen came out beautifully—tender cookies swaddling delightful fillings. Now all they needed was an accompanying beverage.
I’m loving Old Fashioneds lately—they’ve had quite the comeback. Typically made with bourbon or rye plus bitters and a muddled sugar cube or simple syrup, I decided to double down on the apricot flavors I’d been playing with, and picked up a bottle of apricot liqueur. The one I got is called APRY, from Marie Brizard, who was, according to the bottle, the first French woman to become a master liqueur maker––in the mid 18th century. You can use any apricot spirit, but give it a taste before deciding how much sugar to add to your concoction. The liqueur I used was quite sweet, so my cocktails needed very little (if any) additional sugar, but a clear apricot-flavored eau de vie, for example, would demand more.
Old Fashioneds are often served with a slice of orange zest, but I wanted to garnish mine with some sort of candied apricot. Ultimately I simply dipped one side of my slightly sticky dried apricot in granulated sugar, and it stuck. If your apricots are too dry, just dip one half in simple syrup before dredging it in sugar.
Speaking of sugar, simple syrup is usually made by combining one part sugar and one part water in a saucepan and heating until the sugar dissolves, then cooling. I substituted honey for the sugar, and it worked beautifully, adding an extra layer of flavor to the drink.
Whether you make this cookie-and-cocktail combo for your own Purim party or to tuck into your mishloach manot (gift baskets filled with food and drink and given to friends and family on Purim) have fun and rock hard, but do rock responsibly.
Liza Schoenfein is senior food writer at the Forward. Follow her on Instagram, @LifeDeathDinner