As I sit here waiting for another snowstorm to arrive, it is hard to believe that Purim is just around the corner. That means it is time to start making shalach manot and almost time to start using up the chametz for Pesach! Time marches on, and to get everything done in time, planning and freezing is imperative.
I love the story of Purim, especially all the intrigue and duplicity that saved our people. From plots and secrets to more, it is more mystery movie than holiday, but it is a fun and boisterous celebration, and getting more so every year.
In Israel, there is the Adloyada parade, a combination of Mardi Gras and the Rose Bowl. There are several videos on Youtube, if you want to see them. These parades are loud, fun, and energetic, and people of all ages participate. Why don’t we do that here?
In the evening, people gather and read the Megillah and make even more noise. Synagogues give out candy to the children and shots of schnapps to the adults. In fact, adults are supposed to get so drunk that they cannot differentiate between Haman and Mordechai. Not sure that one appeals to me, but making shalach manot is an activity I completely enjoy and, because I begin so many days or even weeks before Purim, I get to think about the holiday and celebrate it for a lot longer than one day and loud and raucous night.
When my children were young, creating the perfect costume was a month-long activity. It was fun to see them so involved. Purim meant getting a lot of treats and also giving teats to our friends and more. We often participated in making bags of goodies for a local nursing home and my children learned that some people did not have all that they had. The tradition of giving to those less fortunate is biblical and an important lesson for all to learn. Distributing treats that they loved was a powerful way to instill that idea.
It’s time to think ahead and make lots of shalach manot this year. You can freeze a lot of these treats for a week or so with no problem, which will help you manage your time. Then you can spend that time with your children or grandchildren decorating bags and filling them with your delicious treats. Chag sameach!
Chewy Oatmeal Cookies (Dairy)
2 cups rolled oats, not instant
1/4 cup almond milk
1-1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
2 sticks butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the oats in a small bowl and add the almond milk. Stir to combine. Let sit to soften.
In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg together. Set aside.
Melt the butter (just until barely melted) either in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Pour into a large bowl and add the molasses, vanilla and sugar and mix until blended. Add the egg and mix vigorously. Add the flour mixture and mix until moistened. Add the oats and mix well. Add the nuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds, and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate the dough overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased or parchment lined pans about 3 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden on top. Let cool before moving to a rack. Makes about 40 cookies.
Brown Sugar Pecan Pie Goldies (Dairy)
1-1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
4 Tbsp. dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/8 cup dark brown sugar
1/8 cup light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 13 pan and set aside.
Put the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Add the butter by pieces and rub together with your clean hands to incorporate the butter into the flour. When the mixture is all small crumbs, pour them into the pan and press them evenly over the bottom.
Place the corn syrup, sugars, flour, eggs vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set to medium speed and beat until mixture is well combined. Remove the bowl from the stand and add the pecan pieces. Mix with a spoon and pour the topping evenly over the crumb mixture. Spread the topping evenly.
Bake at 350 degrees until lightly golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting. Wrap individually to freeze.
Best Toffee Crunch Blonde Brownies (Dairy)
1 box dark brown sugar (1 pound)
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter
3 extra-large eggs
2-2/3 cups flour
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
8 oz. toffee bits
10 to 12 oz. semi or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
Optional: 1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts or hazelnuts
Melt the butter and add the brown sugar. Mix over low heat until the sugar is smooth and pulls away from the pan when stirring vigorously.
Pour the sugar mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
While mixing on low speed, add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and mix to blend. Add the salt, baking powder and flour. Mix on slow until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Remove the bowl from the stand and stir in the toffee bits and chocolate chips by hand. Pour into a greased and floured 9 by 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean (except for the chocolate), about 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool before cutting. Makes up to 24 bars.
No Bake Peanut Butter Marshmallow, Pretzel Treats (Dairy)
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups mini marshmallows or large marshmallows snipped
3/4 cup creamy natural unsweetened peanut butter
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups thin pretzel sticks, or mini pretzels, broken
2 cups graham crackers, broken into small pieces
3 cups unsweetened puffed wheat cereal or rice cereal
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/2 cup toffee bits
1/2 cup mini M&Ms or chocolate chips
2 oz. white chocolate or 4 ounces melted soft caramel candies
1/2 to 1 tsp. kosher salt or sea salt crystals
Grease a 9 by 13 Glass baking dish and set aside.
Place the corn oil and the brown sugar in a large (4 to 6 quart) heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the marshmallows. Stir vigorously until all melted. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and mix until completely combined.
Add the pretzel pieces, graham cracker pieces, and cereal and mix well. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top with your hands (I use a food prep glove). Set aside.
Heat the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl until just melted. Using a fork, drizzle the chocolate evenly over the top. Sprinkle with mini chips and toffee bits.
Melt the white chocolate or caramel and drizzle that over the toffee bits and dark chocolate. Let cool and refrigerate for at least one hour or until set. Use a sharp knife dipped in hot water to cut into squares. Makes 18 to 24 bars.