Ah, early spring, a reminder that the celebration of Purim is just around the corner. (I’ll refer you to the Wikipedia website rather than recite the whole megillah here.)
Having been around many orthodox and some the more unorthodox Jewish communities and served as the Shavuos goy for many. I miss Hamantaschen, a tasty shortbread cookie filled with various jams, custards, and the like.
As an aside, Shia, Shmule, Yanky, Moses, Jacob, and the rest of the crew, you got me hooked on these things, Cholent and Challah.
But on about the recipe, and hoping I don’t have an army of bobes on my lawn armed with rolling pins.
One thing that always happens to me when I bake these is the filling breaks loose and runs out. To reduce this, I was advised to chill my prepared cookies for 10 to 15 minutes. I was also advised to use an egg wash as glue to hold the “ears” together and to pinch them hard. (Yes, folks, this post has many inside jokes and cultural references.)
I shan’t forget a memorable Purim party I was invited to. At least I remember arriving; I do not remember leaving.
I’ve included a traditional poppy seed filling and suggestions for off-the-shelf fillings.
A hamantash is an Ashkenazi Jewish triangular filled-pocket pastry, associated with the Jewish holiday of Purim. The name refers to Haman, the villain in the Purim story. In Hebrew, hamantashen are also known as אוזני המן (oznei Haman) meaning “Haman’s ears”. “Haman’s ears” also refers to a Sephardic Purim pastry, “Orejas de Haman”, thought to originate in Spain and Italy, that is made by frying twisted or rolled strips of dough.
Traditionally, the dough for hamantashen was made with yeast. With the invention of baking powder during the 1840s and its wide adoption during the first half of the twentieth century, baking powder supplanted yeast, and hamantashen dough became a cookie rather than pastry dough. To shape, a filling is placed in the center of a circle of dough, which is either folded in half and shaped into a triangle or the sides are brought to the center to form a triangle. The oldest and most traditional filling is mohn (poppy seed paste), with powidl or lekvar (prune jam), a close second. The cookie dough variety has spawned many different fillings, traditionally sweet (although savory varieties have become popular as well). Most popular are various jams, especially apricot and raspberry, but also date, raisins, apple, vanilla pastry cream with chocolate chips, cherry, fig, chocolate, dulce de leche, halva, caramel, or cheese. The dough varies from hard, like shortbread, to a soft yeast dough.
- 1 Stand Mixer
- 170 gram Butter Unsalted, good stuff
- 150 gram Granulated Sugar
- 5 gram Salt
- 12 gram Lemon Zest
- 1/8 tsp Lemon Essance Oil
- 420 gram AP Flour Unbleached, please
- 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger A dough enhancer, use one or the other
- 20 grams Dry Milk Powder A dough enhancer, use one or the other
- 3 tbsp Corn Starch
- 2 tbsp Baking Powder
- 1 ea Egg Jumbo
- 1 ea Egg Yolk Keep the white
- 1 tsp Vanilla Essence Optional
Filling(s) Non Traditional
- Apricot Jam Very Thick
- Peanut Butter Very Thick
- Nutella Very Thick
- Lemon Curd Very Thick
Poppy Seed Filling
- 8 oz Poppy Seeds
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- 1/4 cup Honey
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 2 ea Eggs Jumbo, Beaten
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, and flavorings until light and fluffy.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix until a cohesive dough forms.
- Divide the dough in half, wrap it well, and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
- Line your sheet pans with parchment paper, or baking sheets
- Working with one half of the dough at a time, flour it thoroughly, and roll it into a rectangle approximately 1/8" thick.
- Cut the dough into circles with a 3 1/2" round cutter. Place the circles on the prepared baking sheets.
- Place a rounded teaspoonful of filling in the center of each circle.
- Brush the edges of the dough with the reserved egg yolk, which you've beaten with 1 tablespoon water.
- Bring three of the "sides" together to meet in the center, forming what looks like an old-fashioned tricorne hat. Pinch the edges together to seal.
- Put the trays with the cookies back into the fridge for 10 minutes.
- Bake the hamantaschen for 12 to 14 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom and edges.
- Transfer them to a wire rack to cool; they'll firm up and become crisp as they cool.
Poppy Seed Filling
- Grind the poppy seeds in a coffee grinder in batches for about 15-20 seconds per batch, until they are ground soft and powdery.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Whisk in the milk, sugar, honey and salt.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, till the sugar dissolves and the honey melts.
- Pour about 1 cup of the hot liquid into a cup.
- Temper the eggs with the cup of hot liquid.
- Slowly pour the heated, tempered egg mixture back into the hot liquid in the saucepan, whisking constantly.
- Continue to whisk and cook for 3-5 more minutes over medium heat till the mixture thickens and turns light yellow.
- It is ready when it thickly coats the back of a spoon.
- Remove the saucepan from heat.
- Whisk the ground poppy seeds into the buttery liquid and stir well to blend all ingredients.
- Allow filling to cool to room temperature before using.
- Black Currant
- Lemon Curd
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