Hamentashen recipes for Purim

By Margi Lenga Kahn, Special to the Jewish Light

You don’t need to consult your calendar to know that Purim is near. Walk into your neighborhood supermarket and you will be greeted by a display of packaged hamentashen. The iconic cookies originated in Germany as mohn-taschen (translation: poppy seed pockets). They eventually were renamed hamentashen because their triangular shape evoked the tri-cornered hat worn by Haman, the Amalekite whose plot to destroy the Jews of Persia was foiled by Queen Esther. Later, the shape also came to symbolize the trio of patriarchs who saved the Jews from Haman’s evil plan.

Hamentashen, whose jewel-like fillings peak through the center of the pastry, have become the harbinger of Purim. Just as any Hanukkah celebration requires latkes, the Purim festival needs hamentashen. And while anyone can purchase these holiday treats, making them at home is lots of fun and the perfect activity for your whole family.

So gather your troops and start baking. To help you get started, I have included some recipe options. In keeping with the theme of “threes,” I gathered three pastry recipes that have passed the “family-friendly” test. In addition, I’ve adapted recipes for three different fillings, including the more traditional poppy seed one and two others that combine flavors from everyone’s favorite treats, cinnamon rolls and brownies.


Andrea’s hamentashen

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(Adapted from “The Perfect Hamantaschen”, New York Times)

Andrea Reubin, the talented pastry chef behind Just Sweets, an online bakery that sells luxury desserts with an emphasis on Fair Trade ingredients, shared this kid-friendly recipe.*

“This dough is easy to make,” she said. “Unlike others, it is nice to work with because it’s not too sticky. While I grew up eating apricot, poppy seed, and prune-filled hamentashen, I now prefer filling mine with sour cherry preserves.”

Reubin uses Fair Trade cane sugar and vanilla extract, King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and fruit-sweetened preserves for filling.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling
  • 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid mixture.

Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is just blended.

Turn mixture out onto a lightly flour counter and knead dough for a minute or two until smooth.

Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate overnight. Alternatively, place dough in freezer for 30 minutes.

Melt 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. Set aside.

Lightly flour counter. Roll out dough about 1/8 inch thick.  Use any size round glass to cut circles from dough.

Put some filling in the center of each circle, about one teaspoon for each 3-inch circle. (A larger circle will require more filling; a smaller one will require less.)

Pinch dough to form triangles; place hamentashen on prepared cookie sheets.

Brush dough with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until slightly golden, 10-14 minutes, depending on size of hamantashen.

To make a pareve version, substitute canola oil for butter in dough; use egg

wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water) instead of butter to

brush onto dough before sprinkling with sugar.


Margi’s sweet pastry for hamentashen

(Adapted from Tartine Bakery, by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson)

I love using this pastry for my fruit tart shells and for cookies. It also makes beautiful, and beautifully crisp, hamentashen. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. (2 sticks plus 2 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange rind
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling on counter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream, for brushing pastry
  • 3-4 tbsp. sanding sugar or regular granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place butter, sugar, orange rind, and salt into mixing bowl and mix on medium speed until smooth. Add 1 egg and mix on medium speed until incorporated. Add second egg and mix until smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle all the flour over the butter, sugar, egg mixture, and turn mixer to lowest speed. Mix just until combined.

On a lightly floured counter, divide the dough into 4 equal balls, press each ball into a disk 1/2 inch thick, and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. (Dough may remain refrigerated for 24 hours. Dough may also be frozen. Put wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze for up to one month.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place one disc of dough onto a generously floured counter and roll 1/4 inch thick, rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions. Cut out 3-inch circles using a cookie cutter or the top of a glass. (Remove excessive dough, form into a ball, rewrap in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator until first batch of hamentashen has been filled.)

Carefully lift each circle with a small spatula and place onto prepared baking sheet, one right next to the other.

Place 1 teaspoon of desired filling in the center of each circle. Using a pastry brush or your finger, lightly coat the perimeter of the circle with water. Pinch dough together to form a triangle, leaving a small circle of filling exposed.

Repeat rolling, cutting and filling with reserved refrigerated dough.

Gently brush dough with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Place pans in preheated oven and bake until hamentashen are light golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Immediately transfer hamentashen from the pan to a cooling rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cooled. 


Carol’s hamentashen

Carol Rubin, baker extraordinaire and Director of Jewish Life at the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School, began using her recipe 25 years ago with her own kids.

“We made it when my girls were in preschool,” she explained, “and they were a hit. It is very easy for kids to join in the mixing and add their own treats to the center, such as chocolate chips, crunched up candy bars, raisins, jams, preserves, peanut butter and even a chocolate kiss. But one problem, if it is a problem: they do not last long enough to freeze.”

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup pulp-free orange juice
  • 4 1/2 cups flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Solo brand filling of your choice 

Directions

In a large mixer, combine oil and sugar and mix well.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well until mixture is light and fluffy.

Add orange juice.

Mix the baking powder and flour together and add to the egg mixture.

Divide dough in half. Roll out each half on a lightly floured surface about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into 3” circles. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling on each circle (use Solo poppy seed, almond or poppy filling). Pinch the edges of the pastry to form a triangle, leaving a small opening on top. 

Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 18-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

*For a gluten-free version of this pastry, substitute the same amount of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free flour for the flour in the recipe. Sift the flour twice with 2 teaspoons of xanthum gum and measure mixture cup for cup.

Yield: Approximately 4 dozen hamentaschen.


Poppy seed filling

Ingredients

  • 1 cup poppy seeds (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Place poppy seeds in a medium bowl and pour enough boiling water over seeds to cover by 1- inch. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let soak for at least 15 minutes and as long as an hour. Line a colander with cheesecloth and drain poppy seeds.

Place soaked poppy seeds in the bowl of a food processor and add remaining ingredients. Process until mixture is finely ground. Transfer filling to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


Orange-cinnamon filling

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup toasted and finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple butter

Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cover and set aside at room temperature for up to 4 hours before using. 


Chocolate-almond brownie filling

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
  • 2 large egg whites, for egg wash
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, for egg wash

Directions

Place butter and chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until melted. When smooth, add salt, extract, sugar, eggs, flour, and almonds. Stir until thoroughly combined. Remove pan from heat and cover until needed. (Filling can be refrigerated overnight. Gently reheat before using.