Translated, “mishloach manot” means “sending of portions.” So, on Purim, we send delicious foods to our friends and family.
We have a long, ingrained and biblical tradition of providing food and sustenance for those who are less fortunate. But Purim is different. We not only provide for those who have less, but we bring food to our friends and relatives. The goal is to bring them joy and happiness and food that does not need their preparation. So, we fill bags and baskets with gel candies, wine and juices, chocolates and more — and, of course, hamentaschen.
We provide food that is needed for sustenance and survival throughout the year, through all kinds of tzedakah organizations. The food we provide for Purim is food that is not necessary for sustenance — rather, it is food for the fun and joy of sharing and letting people know they are in your heart and part of your community for more than just the necessities of life.
These foods are usually sweet and celebratory, foods one might eat at a party. Hamantaschen, filled cookies shaped like Haman’s hat take center stage supplemented with other sweet treats like cookies and juices and candy and more.
Many people bake for weeks to provide shalach manot for their communities and then enlist their children to fill and decorate the bags that will be delivered. However, such an endeavor can be daunting and tremendously time consuming and many busy people do not have the time to shop and bake and then fill and deliver bags of delicious treats.
If you can, take a day (or several) and bake a bunch of treats for the holiday. Hamentaschen is delicious and fun to make, but bars and cookies are also welcomed treats, as are tea breads and more. If you can bake something, do it and then supplement each bag with fresh fruit like apples or little oranges, or juice boxes, wrapped candies and more.
If, however, you do not have the time to bake at all, there are pldenty of kosher certified hamantashcen — as well as cookies and crackers — in our grocery stores and bakeries. There are even kosher cheeses that do not require refrigeration and individually wrapped candies and treats galore including many, many healthful treats that are vegan and devoid of sugar and flour. Let kids help fill and decorate the bags or baskets you use and let them help you deliver the treats.
And, if all that is still too much for your hectic schedule (and believe me, I completely understand that!) there are lots of Jewish groups that put together wonderful shalach manot bags that come with lovely cards. Some synagogues do the work for you and fill bags with lovely and delicious treats, and then they even deliver them to your designated recipients.
Whether homemade or ordered over the Internet, I know that your generous gift of fun foods will be welcomed with delighted smiles and tremendous appreciation.
Brown Sugar Fudge (Dairy)
Wrap pieces in plastic wrap or cellophane and drop a few in each bag. Yum!
4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 can evaporated milk (Do not use condensed milk.)
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. butter
OPTIONAL: 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts
OPTIONAL: Mini chocolate chips or grated white chocolate
Generously butter a 9x13 glass baking dish. A slightly smaller one will work and result in thicker pieces.
Combine the sugar and milk in a medium, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Stir very frequently.
When the mixture comes to a boil, increase heat to medium-high and boil for 4 to 7 minutes, until a thermometer reaches 235 degrees or a drop of the mixture forms a soft, pliable, ball when dropped into cold water.
Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until thick and creamy and the mixture loses its glossy sheen.
Mix in the nuts and, if using, quickly and with as little mixing as possible, mix in the mini-chips or grated/chopped white chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan, let set and cool. Refrigerate. Makes 24 to 36 pieces.
Brown Sugar Pecan
Pie Goldies (Dairy)
These are a favorite. I wrap them separately and get about 24 bars.
1-1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
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 one-half tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans
OPTIONAL: 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips melted with 1 Tbsp. canola oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside. Put the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Add the butter by pieces and rub together with you 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. If using, melt the chocolate with the oil and spread over the top of the bars. Let cool completely before cutting.
Basic Cookie Dough Hamentaschen (Pareve)
We prefer cookie dough hamentaschen. You can use traditional fillings or some that are listed below.
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3-1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups unbleached flour
Line two or three rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Gather whatever fillings you want and place them nearby.
Place the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Blend on medium speed until smooth. Add the baking powder to the flower and add to the eggs in three additions. Use the mixer to blend the first two, remove the bowl from the stand, add the third one and blend by hand. When the dough comes together, gather into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay a piece of parchment on the table and flour generously. Place 1/3 of the dough on the surface, flour generously and place another piece of parchment on top. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4-inch thick.
Use a 3-inch glass and cut out circles of dough. Place a small spoonful of filling in the center of a circle and pinch the edges to form a triangle. Fold the rounded sides over the filling to leave a small opening through which filling can be seen. Repeat until all the dough is used.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Makes about 2 to 3 dozen hamentaschen.
Spiced Nuts and Fruit (Pareve)
1 cup peanuts
1 cup almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnut halves
1 cup hazelnuts
1-1/2 cups dried fruit, cherries, snipped apricots, cranberries, raisins, mangoes, etc.
1/2 to 1 cup other nuts or sunflower seeds
1 tsp. chili powder or onion powder
1 tsp, garlic powder
1 tsp. coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 to 1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Vietnamese Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
OPTIONAL: 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne, to taste
OPTIONAL: 1-2 tbsp sugar, to taste
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the nuts and fruit together and toss to evenly combine. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat evenly.
In a small bowl, mix the herbs and spices together. Sprinkle half over the nut mixture and toss to coat evenly. Repeat with the remaining spice mixture. Spread evenly on the prepared pan and scrap all the oil and spices over the nuts. Place in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, mix well and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Makes 6 cups.
NOTE: You can add broken pretzel pieces and even M&Ms to this after the nuts are cooked and cooled.
Some Delicious Fillings
Measurements for these are not specific. Make sure the filling is thicker than you might think is correct because it will run during the baking process.
1. Nutty ‘Tella: Nutella mixed with chopped, toasted hazelnuts
2. Smores:. Chocolate chips, snipped marshmallows, crushed graham crackers
3. PB&J: a dollop of peanut butter and jelly next to each other
4. Toffee Chocolate: Crushed toffee candy mixed with mini chocolate chips
5. Razzle-berry Chocolate: Raspberry jam mixed with mini chocolate chips
6. Cherry Pistachio: White chocolate chips, chopped pistachio nuts, dried cherries
7. Apple Pie: Finely chopped apples cooked with cinnamon, sugar, until softened
8. Cinnamon Nut: Chopped walnuts, cinnamon, sugar and a bit of melted butter
9. Chocolate Salted Caramel: Snip soft caramels, dark chocolate chips, sea salt
9. Apricot and Halvah: Mix apricot jam with crumbled almond halvah
I have joined the vanilla making craze and will be giving bottles of double strength vanilla for part of my Shalach Manot bags this year. I have caramel vanilla also and a few bottles of lemon extract and coffee extract. It’s been a busy year! In addition, I have been making granola and spiced nuts and will give that also, in lieu of sweeter treats.