• picture of Orecchie di Amman
    Silvia Nacamulli's Orecchie di Amman - Italian Hamantaschen. Photo: Jennifer Balcombe
  • אורקי די המן - אוזני המן איטלקיות. צילום: ענבל בר עוז
    אורקי די המן - אוזני המן איטלקיות. צילום: ענבל בר עוז
Recipe

Orecchie di Amman – Italian Hamantaschen two ways

Silvia Nacamulli's mother prepared these plain, bow shaped and dusted with powdered sugar, but you can fill after frying for an Italian Hamantaschen

These pastry treats are crispy and tasty. They are traditionally made in Italy for Purim, and this is my family’s recipe. My mother likes to pinch the pastry to create a bow or butterfly shape, without any filling, as this is the way her grandmother, Silvia, used to make them. I like to alternate this simple version with filled ones. The dough is the same, just shaped differently, and both versions are fried. For the filled version, the filling is added to cooked pastries just before serving. You can also use the same dough recipe and bake the pastry instead of frying. Just add 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder to the flour and fill them before baking them at 190°C (170°C fan/375°F/gas mark 5) for 15 minutes.

Haman (Amman in Italian) is the villain in the Purim story, as told in the Book of Esther, and various pastries are named after him. Ashkenazi Jews around the world bake Hamantaschen (Haman’s pockets), filled with poppy seeds or jam, and Israelis bake Oznei Haman (Haman’s ears), which have the same English name as the Italian version but are more similar to the Ashkenazi cookies!

The reason why the Italian Orecchie di Amman are made into strips and fried may be because Purim falls around the time of the Italian Carnevale, when frappe, chiacchere and other similar fried
pastry strips are made.

This recipe is from the cookbook “Jewish Flavors of Italy” by Silvia Nacamulli – a member of the FOODISH advisory committee, a London cook, lecturer and author of Roman origin who specializes in Jewish-Italian cuisine.

For more recipes from the book

To purchase the book

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Ingredients for Italian Hamantaschen

  • 1 egg large
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) Sugar
  • grated orange peel from one orange
  • 1 pinch cinnamon (optional)
  • 2½ tablespoons (40 ml) sunflower oil
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • scant 1¼ cups (170 grams) flour plus extra for dusting
  • generous 2 cups (500 ml) sunflower oil or other neutral oil for frying
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting

Optional fillings (a choice of any or a mix of the following):

  • jam of your preference
  • Nutella
  • peanut butter

Instructions

Prepare the dough:

  • 1. In a bowl, gently whisk the egg with the sugar, orange zest, cinnamon (if using), oil and a pinch of salt. Add the flour and mix again, working the dough by hand. You can work the dough in the bowl or on a work surface for 4–5 minutes. Alternatively, mix the ingredients using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. The consistency should be soft and malleable but not sticky. If it's sticky, add a little more flour. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 15–20 minutes.

Roll out and cook:

  • 2. When you are ready to make the pastries, remove the clingfilm and cut the dough in half. Take one piece and keep the other wrapped in plastic wrap. Dust the work surface with a little flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/16-1/8 inch (2–3 mm). The thinner you roll the dough, the crispier the pastry will be once fried.

  • 3. To make strip ears: Cut the dough, ideally with a crimped pastry wheel to give it pretty edges, or with a knife, into roughly 4 x 3⁄4 inch (10 x 2 cm) strips, then pinch them in the middle to create a bow or butterfly shape. Repeat with the rest of the dough, putting the pieces on a tray dusted with flour. You should have 20–25 strips.

  • 4. To make triangle ears: Using a 3" (7–8 cm) round cookie cutter, or the rim of a glass, cut as many circles as you can from the dough. Fold three edges of each circle towards the centre to create a triangle, but do not fill them yet – you will do that once they are cooked. Folding it will create the triangle shape, and they will puff up when frying and open to create a cradle for the filling, while still keeping a triangle cup shape. Repeat with the rest of the dough. You can re-roll the offcuts, and cut out more circles, or leave them as random-shaped strips, or cut out letters and shapes. Put the pieces on a tray dusted with flour. You should have 20–25 triangle ears.

  • 5. Heat the sunflower oil for frying in a deep heavy-based saucepan to 335°F/170°C (if you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil is hot enough by dropping in a cube of bread: it should float rather than sink, and sizzle immediately on contact with the oil). Once the oil is hot, add some of the pastry strips or triangles (enough to create one layer) and fry for about 1 minute, turning them halfway through with a metal spoon, until they turn pale golden – do not let them brown. They cook very quickly! Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them in a sieve to drain the oil. Once drained, transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen paper to help absorb any excess oil. Repeat with the remaining strips or triangles.

  • 6. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle icing sugar on top of the strip ears, or pipe a dollop of your favorite filling into the centre of each triangle (using a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized tip, or simply snip a 1/2-inch/1 cm hole in the corner of a disposable bag after filling it). Ideally serve them straight away, or keep them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. If you are keeping them to serve later, sprinkle them with more icing sugar or pipe the filling just before serving.

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