The Jewish holiday of Purim celebrates the dramatic deliverance of the Jews in Persia from the genocidal designs of the nefarious Haman. But that’s kind of beside the point. What’s more important, at least to me, is that on Purim we eat triangular cookies, supposedly shaped like Haman’s hat, called hamantaschen.

I’ve always loved hamantaschen – they are traditionally made with a shortbread-like dough, with apricot, fig, or poppy seed fillings. I haven’t tried to make them for several years, after a baking disaster the first time I attempted them. But I thought this year would be a good time to bury the hatchet. It’s been about 6 years, after all.

It ended up being a very unique and intense baking adventure. I made 6 different types of hamantaschen in the course of 7 hours. Thankfully, I had help from some wonderful friends or I would have collapsed. I used the same basic recipe from Smitten Kitchen, with a variety of fillings: raspberry jam, nutella, raspberry jam and cream cheese, raspberry jam and nutella, and a coffee cake filling I got from foodista.com. I also made a batch of gluten and dairy free pecan pie hamantaschen, a recipe from styleitkosher.com.

hamantaschen3

Smitten Kitchen Hamantaschen:

Yield: About 22 2-inch cookies*

Ingredients:

1.  8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2.  3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
3.  3 tablespoons sugar
4.  1 egg
5.  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6.  1/2 teaspoon orange zest
7.  1 1/3 cups plus 4 teaspoons flour
8.  1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
  2. Add sugar and mix for one minute longer.
  3. Add egg, vanilla extract, orange zest and salt, mixing until combined.
  4. Add the flour. The mixture should come together and be a tad sticky.
  5. Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  7. To form the hamantaschen, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it is about 1/4-inch thick.
  8. Using a round cookie cutter (or the rim of a glass) cut the dough into circles.
  9. Spoon a teaspoon of filling of choice in the center.
  10. Fold the dough in from three sides and firmly crimp the corners and give them a little twist to ensure they stay closed. It’s okay to cover the filling with the dough, maybe even preferable, to ensure they don’t break open or flatten out in the oven.
  11. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

hamantaschen2

Coffee Cake filling from Foodista.com:

Ingredients:

1.  1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2.  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3.  1 cup finely chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews
4.  2 tablespoons melted butter
5.  1 to 2 tablespoons apple butter

 

Gluten-free Pecan Pie Hamantaschen

Dough – Ingredients:

1.  2 sticks (1 cup) Earth Balance margarine, softened
2.  1/2 cup palm sugar
3.  1 large egg
4.  1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5.  1 cup white rice flour
6.  1/2 cup coconut flour
7.  2 tsp baking powder
8.  1 tsp xanthan gum
9.  1 tsp cinnamon

Filling – Ingredients:

1.  1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2.  1/4 cup almond milk
3.  Pinch salt
4.  1 Tablespoon cornstarch
5.  3/4 cup pecan pieces
6.  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dough – Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2) Beat softened Earth Balance with palm sugar until creamed in a large bowl (or in a mixer).
3) Add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
4) In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients, then stir until combined.
5) Add dry to wet and mix until dough forms.
6) Scoop dough from bowl into plastic wrap, shaping into a ball, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. In the mean time, prepare the filling (below).

Filling – Instructions:

1) Whisk together the maple syrup, almond milk, salt, and cornstarch in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat.

2) Keep stirring continuously with a whisk until the mixture boils and thickens.

3) Once boiling, turn off the heat and stir-in pecan pieces and vanilla.

4) Allow to fully cool.

5) Follow same instructions as for regular hamantaschen assembling and baking, using rice flour (or whatever else you might have) for the floured surface.

hamantaschen

This seems may seem like a long and involved process, but it’s a lot of fun, especially when you have help. I definitely recommend making it a group activity.

- Miriam Olenick ‘13