Baking Hamantaschen for Purim

hamantaschen cookies

I have always loved Purim.  When I was a little girl, I (like every other little girl I knew) put on my princess dress and marched around the synagogue, pretending to be Queen Esther and making as much noise as possible.  My dress was a shiny pink satin trimmed in silver glitter and clear plastic beads. My mom pulled it out each year, along with my tiara, but the year I turned eight, disaster struck.  As I tugged my shiny satin dress over my head, it became abundantly clear just how big my recent growth spurt had been.  After I stopped sobbing, I realized I only had 30 minutes to make a new costume.  Clearly a proper Queen Esther costume was out of the question, but a couple of pieces of triangular poster board and some string and I was a hamantaschen!  My little brother even discarded his standard Mordecai beard in favor of his own hamantaschen costume. 

Our local kosher grocery store sold huge hamantaschen, big enough that together Evan and I couldn’t finish one. And one year, my Mom even had a box of these crumbly triangular cookies sent from a famous bakery in San Francisco. I don’t remember my Nannie ever making hamantaschen.  My mom swears she did, but  I searched and searched through my binders of Nannie recipes, and found no hamantaschen.  My super-duper cookie-baking Jewish grandmother had no hamantaschen recipe?  Seriously? But honestly, I’m not all that surprised.  Hamantaschen are kind of fussy, and Nannie didn’t go for fussy food.  All that rolling, cutting and pinching were a bit much for a woman with four kids and nine grandchildren to run after.  But sometimes I like fussy.  It’s fun, on occasion, to play with dough, and reap the rewards.  Pinching the corners of these cookies would be a great task for little hands, if you have helpers in the kitchen. That is, of course, unless they are too busy making their poster board costumes.

hamantaschen and espressoI am a dunker – from Oreos in milk to hamantaschen in coffee, I believe that all cookies are best when dunked.  Eating Haman’s hat is truly even yummier with a cup of joe, or even a double espresso.  But most store-bought hamantaschen are so stuffed with filling that a glop of poppy seeds inevitably lands in the bottom of my mug.  So for these hamantaschen, I decided to make a much smaller cookie, increasing the dough-to-filling ratio and allowing for easier dunkability. You can, of course, make bigger hamantaschen, but be sure to increase the baking time.

hamantaschen cookies

Hamantaschen With Poppy Seed Filling

2 cups flour (plus extra for rolling)

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

1/4 cup  sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

for the filling:

1/2 cup poppy seeds

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg, beaten

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the butter and pulse until a sandy texture.  Add in the sugar, vanilla, and egg and pulse again to combine.  The dough will be crumbly.  Gather together the dough scraps and press into a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare the filling.  Combine all of the filling ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat.  Cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens (take care to keep the heat low to avoid scrambling the egg).  Allow the mixture to cool before using.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Divide the dough in four.  Roll out one portion at a time on a floured surface to about 1/6 inch thickness and cut into rounds (I use a 11/2 inch round cookie cutter). Place a dollop of filling in the center of each dough circle and pinch the corners to form a triangle.  Be sure to pinch the dough tightly so the cookie will hold its shape while baking.  Bake in batches on a greased cookie sheet until golden, about 15 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet once halfway through baking.


Published in: on February 28, 2010 at 4:47 pm  Comments (11)  
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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I just read about these recently! I had never heard of them (my step-sister is actually Jewish but there’s not a big Jewsih community in NZ so not so many bakeries with Jewish breads)…If I try it then will let you know how it goes!

  2. I did a recipe for hamantashan on my blog a couple weeks ago in preparation for purim as well. so glad to see another hamantashan recipe out here. they are fun to make, aren’t they?

  3. Love food favorites from childhood! They always bring back so many memories! These looks really good. The shape and the onyx colored filling looks divine!

  4. I tried making hamantashan for my boyfriend once (I had never tried them before) and they were a disaster! They were so thin and awful! This recipe looks much better! I’ll have to bookmark this for next year!

  5. These looks really yummy! I’ll have to try out your recipe, I’ll print it out and see if I have all the ingredients. Cheers~

    Friended you up on Foodbuzz!

  6. Those are beautiful! I love the story that goes along with them as well!

  7. Wow, this looks amazing. I can’t wait to try this with my regular cup of coffee.

    • oops! I brilliantly copied/pasted your website into the “website” section of the comment form. Fail! Promise I’m not trying to take claim of your lovely site 🙂

  8. simply beautiful!! just perfect.

  9. I’m a cookie dunker myself, this recipe sounds so yummy!!! I love poppy seed paste…I will have to make these… 🙂

  10. […] am a big fan of cookie dunking.  We’ve covered my need to dunk before (when I talked about my hamantaschen recipe, which you can find here) but such a contentious topic deserves a bit more […]

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