If you’re the type of person who likes gift giving, especially treats from your kitchen, then Purim is the holiday for you! You probably look forward to the holiday as much as my family. When my kids were young, we would make a whole day out of it. I especially enjoy the making of hamantaschen. Holiday cookbooks are full of poppy seed, prune, chocolate, and even jelly-filled recipes…they’re all good, but I like my own special creations the best!
It’s been years since my daughter dressed up during the Purim Carnivals as Queen Esther and my son as a human gragger. Although we’ve outgrown some holiday traditions, the mainstay for my family at Purim is the giving of shalakh mannes. What a wonderful opportunity to share with your Jewish neighbors and friends a basket full of ready to eat treats from your heart and home. The Megillah instructs us to celebrate the holiday by sharing these foodie gifts. The gift-giving serves as an expression of brotherly love, unity and generosity. For me, it’s an opportunity to share from my own personal kitchen, and not just my Abigael’s kitchen!
When we first started setting up Purim baskets, we filled them with the clichéd ensemble of grape juice, assorted candies, fruit, and hamantashen. The baskets were spruced up with chocolates and homemade preserves.
Over the years, we’ve developed a more interesting and personality-filled basket of shalakh mannes. We’ve expanded the bounty with the additions of specialty ingredients such as spiced nuts, fruit chutneys, chocolate truffles, exotic fruits and wine. These treats are for the big kid in all of us.
The baskets themselves have evolved from the repurposed ones we received in previous years, to flowerpots, pails, buckets and artfully blown glass bowls. We try to use the opportunity of gift giving as an expression of who we are and what we like; what we enjoy in our home and what we’d like to share with our friends. The idea behind shalakh mannes is giving, so be proud of what’s in your basket!
I hope you enjoy the White Chocolate and Cherry Hamantaschen recipe… it’s my personal favorite!