For those of you who don’t know, Hamantashen are Jewish cookies/pastries recognizable by their three-cornered shape. The shape is achieved by folding in the sides of a circular piece of dough, with a filling placed in the center. They are traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim (sorry this recipe is a little late, as Purim was on March 20th). Hamantaschen are made with many different fillings, including prunes, nut, poppy seed, date, apricot, apple, fruit preserves, cherry, chocolate, dulce de leche, halva, or even caramel or cheese.
Poppy seed, prune and jam are the most traditional of the fillings. In fact, I never even knew of those other combos, but Wikipedia informed me of them.
Wikipedia also taught me something else new…the singluar of hamantashen is actually hamantash. I think that’s a fact that few jews know, as you usually hear people say “I just ate a hamantashen.” Well, thanks Wikipedia!
These cookies are named as a reference to Haman, the villain of Purim, as described in the Book of Esther. In Hebrew school I always learned that they were shaped in a triangle because that is the shape of the hat that Haman wore. But in my research for this blog post, I found out that the pastries are actually supposed to resemble the “ears of Haman.” Personally, I think that hat story is better. Who wants to eat an ear?! Well, unless it’s an Elephant Ear ;)
I thought it would be fun to have my great (and oldest!) friend, Erica, bake these up with me. I’ve known her since I was just a wee 4 year old :) So the two of us baked up a storm this weekend and produced lots of Hamantashen, while chatting it up and having some girl time…in my opinion, the best way to bake!
*Please note that all cookies shown are Erica’s. She made hers nice and pretty and didn’t get greedy with the fillings and overfill them like I did. Hers came out cute and attractive while mine were ugly and messy.
In making this recipe there are some tips I learned:
1. DO NOT OVERFILL the cookies. If you do, they will explode and all the filling will ooze out. I teaspoon should be plenty for attractive cookies. If you don’t care how pretty they are, then fill as much as you want, because they still taste good :)
2. Do not roll the dough too thin or the cookies will not keep shape as well. 1/4″ is the perfect thickness.
3. Make sure the rolled-out and cut dough is cold before you try to form the cookies or they will stick to your hands and not to themselves.
4. Make sure the cookies are cold and firm before putting in the oven. Put them in the freezer for at LEAST 20 min. If you don’t, the cookies will spread way too much in the oven and the filling will ooze out.
5. Cool thoroughly after removing from oven.
Now, without further ado, the recipe :)
Adapted from the New York Times
Yields about 20 cookies
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg yolks
8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature, in small pieces
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
Dash of salt
1 large egg, beaten, for the glaze
Various fillings: jam, chocolate chips, nutella, or anything your heart desires
3. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. If dough is too soft at this stage, refrigerate rolled-out dough for 20 min or until firm.
4. Use a round cookie cutter or glass to cut 2.5-inch circles. Put a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of each, and press up the sides to form triangles. Brush the tops with beaten egg. Put trays of cookies in freezer for about 20 min or until very firm.
5. Remove cookies from freezer and bake until golden and dough is delicately firm all the way through, about 20 minutes. If trays are on different racks, switch them after about 10 minutes.