During Purim, Jews from around the world munch on treats said to resemble Haman’s hat or ears to demonstrate the evil vizier’s defeat. Often these pastries are filled to symbolize the many secrets within the Book of Esther.
The recipe for Haman’s Fingers builds on this tradition. They are individual phyllo rolls stuffed with pistachios, almonds, apricots and spices.
I like the floral note the orange blossom water adds to the syrup. If you don’t, or if it’s unavailable, add one teaspoon fresh lemon juice to the cooked syrup instead. Or skip the syrup and dip one end of each cooled pastry into melted white chocolate. Sprinkle leftover filling over chocolate.
This year, Purim begins at nightfall Feb. 25 and ends about 24 hours later.
Makes 8 pastries
- ½ cup dried apricot halves
- 1 cup hot water
- 1¼ cups sugar, divided
- ½ cup whole raw almonds
- ½ cup whole raw pistachio kernels
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
- 4 sheets phyllo dough at room temperature (see notes)
- 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. orange blossom water or fresh lemon juice
Put apricots in bowl. Cover with hot water. Soak 20 minutes or until soft and pliable. Drain apricots, reserving liquid for syrup. Dry apricots with dish towel. Place in food processor with ¼ cup sugar. Chop into ⅛-inch bits. Remove to a dry, medium bowl.
Put almonds and pistachios in processor. Pulse until chopped into ⅛-inch pieces. Add to apricots. Add cinnamon and cardamom to chopped bits. Mix well. (Can be stored overnight, wrapped airtight at room temperature.)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Work with two phyllo sheets at a time, keeping remainder covered with damp dish towel. Lay out one sheet on dry surface. Brush lightly but completely with a bit of oil. Place second sheet on top. Cut into 4 equal rectangles.
Keep one rectangle out and put the others under the towel with remaining phyllo. Place the rectangle so one of the long edges faces you. Mound 2½ Tbs. of filling in a ¾-inch-wide line across the long edge, leaving ¼-inch margins from the long side facing you and the two short ends. Roll the bottom edge of the dough closest to the filling up over it, then roll once more, compacting it as you roll to enclose the filling. Continue rolling firmly until a cylinder forms. Place it seam side down on baking tray. Brush tops and sides with some oil. Pinch open ends closed and push in slightly. Repeat with remaining cut rectangles. Repeat the whole process for the remaining phyllo.
Bake about 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Make syrup while pastries bake.
Measure your reserved apricot liquid. Add water to bring to 1 cup. Put it in saucepan with 1 cup sugar and 1 Tbs. lemon juice. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Lower heat to medium-low. Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until reduced to ½ cup. Stir in orange blossom water. Transfer hot pastries to a rimmed container in a single layer. Pour warm syrup on top. Turn in syrup until coated, and turn occasionally until pastries cool. Can be stored overnight, wrapped in airtight container at room temperature. Before serving, garnish with leftover filling.
Notes: Phyllo dough (also called filo or fillo) is sold refrigerated or frozen in grocery, Middle Eastern and specialty stores, usually in 1-lb. boxes. Some brands have thin and thick varieties; choose thin for this recipe. Follow package directions to bring to room temperature. Wrap and freeze (or refreeze) leftover sheets. Phyllo sheet dimensions vary, with the most brands measuring about 9-by-14 inches. For much larger sheets (e.g., 14-by-17 inches), use 2 sheets (not 4); once they are oiled and stacked, cut into 8 rectangles.