Purim is a Jewish holiday which celebrates of the triumph of the Jews from the decree of massacre by the hand of the Persian King Ahchashverosh. The King unwittingly signed the decree at the behest of his trusted advisor, or vizier, Haman who had political aspirations of his own. The Jewish people were saved from the edict of the massacre by the intervention of Queen Esther, a Jewish woman who won the King’s favor in a beauty pageant.
The Book or Scroll of Esther is read in its entirety in synagogue. It is a story full of intrigue and the prevailing theme is the triumph of good over evil. The surprise ending of this drama is that the victory of the Jewish people is made possible by a young, beautiful, Jewish woman named Esther, who married the King and let the news that she is Jewish slip when there was still enough time for him to nullify the decree. The important message of this holiday, simply stated, is that courage and faith conquer any adversary or evil.
Today, Purim is celebrated by reading the Scroll of Esther followed by festive celebrations including carnivals, masquerades and plays. Of course there is plenty of eating and drinking too. However, there is a serious side to this holiday as well; a celebration of this magnitude must include all members of the community. Therefore, donations to charities and the poor are encouraged and baskets of food called Shalot Manot are distributed to family and friends.
One interesting note about Queen Esther: there is a notion that Queen Esther managed to retain her Jewish identity while living in the Palace by maintaining a vegetarian diet thereby not breaking the rules of Kashruth. For that reason, to honor her diligence, I serve a vegetarian meal for my family’s celebration of Purim followed by a vast array of remarkable and regal treats for dessert.
Queen Esther’s Royal Rose Velvet Cupcakes Recipe
Everyone has a favorite Red Velvet Recipe; this is my adapted one for Purim.
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 ½ scant cup of corn oil
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 TBS liquid pink food coloring
Makes 24 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350° F
Line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners (I use red foil liners)
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Add the sugar and with a whisk, mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl add the eggs, corn oil, buttermilk, red liquid food coloring, vanilla extract, distilled white vinegar, and water. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. The mixture will be a bright shade of red. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, 2 – 3 minutes.
Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3’s full. Then bake for 20 – 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and wait a few minutes until they are cool enough to handle and remove cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely.
When the cupcakes are cool frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting add mini tiaras for the royal effect!