Hamentaschen

by rivka on March 14, 2011 · 21 comments

in cookies and bars, events

from the archive, just in time for the holiday.

Among the many traditions associated with the quickly-approaching Jewish holiday of Purim, perhaps the most widely-kept one is the consuming of copious amounts of alcohol hamentaschen. Are you surprised that it’s my favorite holiday in the calendar?

haman31.jpg

Fashioned after Haman’s pocket, hamentaschen are cookies filled with anything from poppyseed to raspberry jam to Nutella, and folded up to resemble a triangle. They’re not too sweet, flavored with vanilla and lemon zest, and perfectly crunchy outside while soft within. Everyone has a favorite filling, and mine — poppyseed — is, unfortunately, hated by many folks. I appeased the masses this year by making a large batch of raspberry-chocolate filled ones. I’ll save the poppyseed for myself. I also scored a tub of halvah (sweet sesame paste), so that should make for some interesting cookies as well.

haman4.jpg

The number of hamentaschen recipes I’ve tasted reaches the teens. From the ones in Israel (which are non-dairy, and inevitably made with way too much scary margarine) to three of my mom’s recipes, to countless others we receive from friends each year, I settled on my uncontested favorite long ago. That recipe, which I’ve posted here, is what I have used to make hamentaschen for four years running. While other recipes may be easier to work with, they produce a cookie that’s neither crunchy nor chewy, but merely soft and unpleasant to bite. They come out more cake-y than cookies ever should, and less flavorful as well. The recipe I post here requires a fair amount of patience, but the resulting hamentaschen make up for the (minimal) hassle. You’ll see.

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By now, many of you have emailed me asking for the recipe, so without further ado, here it is. I made my two batches on Sunday, and they came out delightfully crispy and cookie-like, just as I love them. Please note that if you need to make twice or three times as much as the recipe produces, make the batches one at a time; this recipe does not like to be doubled.

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Hamentaschen

makes 20-25, depending on size

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract or lemon zest (I prefer the latter)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2-3 cups flour
  1. Cream butter and sugar about 1 minute.
  2. Add egg and extract/zest, and mix about 1 minute more.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, salt, and 2 cups of the flour.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix on low to combine.
  5. Add up to one more cup of flour, just enough that the dough comes together and does not feel sticky.
  6. Gather dough into plastic wrap or wax paper, and refrigerate 30-45 minutes (much longer, and it’ll be tough to work with).
  7. Sprinkle working surface with flour, and roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick.
  8. haman7.jpg

  9. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, slice cookies out of the dough.
  10. Lift each circle off the table to ensure that it doesn’t stick.
  11. Drop about a tsp. of filling onto each circle.
  12. Wet the rim of the circle with a bit of water, and bring up the sides to form a triangle (as pictured).
  13. Place on a baking sheet with 1/2-1 inch room in between hamentaschen.
  14. Bake for 10-16 minutes at 375 degrees, until the tips of the triangles are golden.
  15. Allow to cool completely before storing, and if you are tempted to try one with jam inside, wait a while or it’ll burn your tongue! :)
  16. Store in between layers of wax paper in an airtight container.

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1 a. grace March 17, 2008

those sure look labor-intensive, but egads, i’ll bet they’re worth it!

2 Patricia Scarpin March 27, 2008

They look beautiful, delicious and made with loads of love.

3 Jessica March 27, 2008

Thank you — fantastic recipe!

4 Hillary March 28, 2008

Beautiful hamantaschen! Yours came out so much better than mine :) Mine expanded into non-triangles! Hehe. Hope you enjoyed your Purim!

5 barbara February 23, 2010

i was just thinking about making these today–thanks!

6 Rebecca February 23, 2010

I was too impatient and burned my entire mouth when I tasted mine! What fillings did you use?

7 rivka February 24, 2010

I used a mix of raspberry jam and chocolate for my first batch, but I’ve still got halva and nutella in the wings….you?

8 Luke February 25, 2010

Oh, those look so lovely! You must be an excellent dough-finesser to get the shapes so crisp even with baking powder in the dough. I find that the only way I can deal with rolled cookies is to rechill the dough after rolling and before cutting. Also, does the halvah filling just go in straight or do you cut it with something? What does it do when it’s baked?

9 Rebecca February 25, 2010

I was also planning to try nutella for my final batch! I’ve never used it in hamentaschen before but thought it might be a fun switch from my usual raspberry jam.

10 rivka February 26, 2010

Luke — I use a halva spread instead of block-style halva. The texture is more like nutella. You could probably make your own by blending a bunch of honey into tahini spread.

11 Juliette February 26, 2010

Yum! No time to make them this year, sadly, but I’ll have to make sure I get some at the weekend.

12 Luke March 1, 2010

Ah-hah. That seems MUCH more palatable. I’d never come across a non-bricky halva before. Sounds fab! :-)

13 sara March 2, 2010

Made your recipe for the second year running–came out beautifully! Right ratio of dough to filling, and they didn’t fall apart at all. I used whole wheat flour to no ill effect, and some pumpkin filling that friends had left over–not too sweet, which was a lovely surprise.

14 Molly Parr March 14, 2011

Halve and nutella? (Wiping droll off my keyboard.)

15 sarah March 14, 2011

they look excellent. if only you’d posted this a day earlier, my recipe (from a usually good cookbook) failed, it came out way too cakey and they all unsealed.

16 Reizen March 14, 2011

Looks great – the kids and I will get started on them!

I thought that they were fashioned after Haman’s ears – he was traditionally hanged by them?

17 Liz the Chef March 14, 2011

Oh, I love Purim and your beautiful goodies are beyond delicious!

18 Rivki Locker March 14, 2011

Your hamantaschen are beautiful. I love how you used the fluted cutter to make a pretty edge. I discovered that Nutella makes an awesome filling. Not a very traditional one, but absolutely out of this world delicious.

19 Monica Gebell March 15, 2011

Jeeeez, I wish I’d seen this post BEFORE I made my very humble batch of hamentaschen this morning. If you need a good belly laugh, please do check out the picture of the first three cookies my 2-year-old daughter and I made. Sort of your gorgeous, fluted-edged hamentaschen’s disfigured cousins. (But they were still delish.) Next year, I’m using your recipe! Beautiful blog and sumptuous food photography… thank you!

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