Early spring brings the Jewish festival of Purim, a carnival
holiday where people are encouraged to dress in costume and make merry. Purim
commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from an evil government
minister, named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish community in ancient Persia.
One of the ways that Jewish people celebrate Purim is by giving packages
of baked goods, called mishloach manot, to friends and neighbors. All mishloach
manot must contain hamantaschen, a triangular, filled cookie that is the
signature food of Purim. The cookie’s
shape is said to come from the three-cornered hat that the villain Haman wore.
have a bad reputation. All Jewish kids
have been scarred by eating a soggy, tasteless Hamantaschen filled with unpleasant
prunes or not-very-sweet poppy seeds. This recipe, however, will redeem
hamantaschen in your children’s eyes. The dough is sweet and buttery, with a
hint of lemon zest, and crumbly without being dry.
For filling, I suggest using jam instead of the more traditional
poppy seeds. You can use any jam that you like to fill your Hamantaschen as
long as it is good quality. Berry, apricot and plum jams all work nicely. If
you have some homemade jam left from your summer canning, this is the moment to
The key to this success for this recipe is giving the dough
plenty of time to chill and harden in the refrigerator before rolling it out.
Use a nice sturdy wooden rolling pin like this rotary rolling pin from Architec and do not roll your dough out too thin or the filling will leak!
Use a round cookie cutter that is at least 4 inches in diameter, such as these metal cookie cutters from Architec, to cut out circles of dough. Place the circles of dough on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat mat. (Trying to move the filled and folded cookies from a cutting board to a cookie sheet is a recipe for disaster, so I always place them on the cookie sheet prior to filling.)
Fill the circles with jam and then fold into a triangle. In my
experience, folding the sides over like an envelope to form the triangle works
better than pinching the corners together.
Once you have filled and folded your hamantaschen, chill the
cookies prior to baking. This step will ensure that they will hold their shape
in the oven and you will end up with the triangular hamantaschen of your dreams.
To make the cookies extra brown and glossy, brush with an egg
wash right before baking. This expandable pastry brush has natural fibers and gets
into all the corners.
Chag sameach Purim everyone!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 3 eggs and 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Zest of one lemon
- 8 oz. jam or preserves for the filling
- 1 tsp milk
- Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and process for a few seconds until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together two of the eggs, the egg yolks, the vanilla and the lemon zest. Add the egg mixture to the food processor and process for thirty seconds. (It will still be somewhat dry and crumbly.)
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, gather into a ball and knead until it comes together.
- Divide dough in half and form into two discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- To make the cookies, remove one of the disc from the refrigerator and let the dough warm up slightly to make it easier to roll out.
- Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper.
- Roll out dough on a well-floured surface with a well-floured rolling pin to between 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch thickness.
- Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles and place them on the lined cookie sheets. Gather up the scraps of dough and re-roll them out to cut out more circles.
- To fill the cookies, spoon a teaspoon of jam or preserves in the center of the dough circle.
- To create the classic triangle shape for the Hamantaschen, do a series of three folds. First, fold one side of the cookie in so that the edge comes to the middle of the jam filling. Fold the second side in the same way and so that it partially covers the first side. Finally, fold the remaining side up and in so that it overlaps the other two sides. Chill the cookies for at least ten minutes prior to baking.
- Make an egg wash of one egg beaten with the milk.
- Brush the outside of the cookies with egg wash with a pastry brush.
- Bake for 15 minutes or so until the cookies are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
- Repeat with the remaining disc of dough.