Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe
My daughter Eilene loves hamantaschen. She has been asking for weeks for these Jewish festive treats served for Purim. These triangular cookies are filled with a variety of sweet fillings—wife Jan and Eilene’s favorite is the traditional poppy seed.
Most years, I go to the House of Bagels—on Bascom—which carries them for a very brief period just before Purim. This year—when I called ahead they were either completely sold out or had sold out of the poppy seed variety. Jan suggested that I learn to make them myself.
Looking online, I found several recipes and I finally chose one by Bon Appetit. I did not want to make so many cookies that we all became sick—“I bet you can’t eat just one”—so I cut the recipe in half. For fillings, I adapted Bon Appetit’s Poppy Seed Filling—cutting this one to one quarter. I did that, because I wanted to fill some of the hamantaschen with my own unique filling—apricot and orange ginger marmalade.
Note: If you have not made my orange infused sugar or orange ginger marmalade, you may substitute white sugar and any commercial orange marmalade.
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ cup Karl’s Orange Infused Sugar
2 large eggs, separate uses
½ tsp. vanilla
Hamantaschen fillings, see recipes below
3” diameter cookie cutter
1. Place the butter on the counter to soften half an hour before starting.
Tip: You will be combining the sugar and butter and it needs to be at room temperature before you start.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
Tip: Sifting these ingredients together gives you a more complete and even mixture.
3. In a separate bowl—large enough to eventually hold all of the ingredients—whisk together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Tip: An electric hand mixer—set on medium-high speed—makes this task easier.
4. Beat 1 egg and the vanilla into the butter and sugar until thoroughly incorporated.
Note: The second egg is used as a binder and egg wash in the final stages of making these treats.
5. Stir in the dry ingredients into the egg/butter mixture—a bit at a time—until the dough comes together.
Tip: If using an electric mixer reduce the speed to low.
6. Turn the dough out onto a smooth board and knead the dough once or twice to ensure that the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
Tip: Do not over work your dough—you do not want “tough cookies,” but a light and delicate shortbread.
7. Form the dough into a ¾ inch thick disk.
8. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Tip: You can make the dough up to this point a day or two before you plan to bake your hamantaschen.
Note: The chilling time is a good break to make your filling(s). See the recipes below.
9. Place the oven racks on the lower and upper thirds of oven and preheat to 350°.
10. Set the dough on the counter for half an hour to soften slightly.
Note: Chilling the dough firms up the butter so that—as you bake your cookies—it melts more slowly and prevents the cookie from spreading out too much. However, you need to balance that with the dough being warm enough to roll out without breaking apart—it is a delicate balance.
11. Line a cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.
12. Roll out dough on a very lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch thick
Tip: Use as little extra flour as you can.
13. Cut out as many rounds as you can and transfer them to your baking sheet.
Tip: Do not crowd the cookie sheet, place the rounds at least half an inch apart—you will need the room as you fold the edges up over the filling. An offset spatula or bench scraper is useful for transferring the raw disks of dough without breaking them.
Note: Gather up the scraps, re-roll, and cut out as many additional rounds as you can.
14. Lightly beat the remaining egg—plus one half teaspoon of water—in a small bowl to blend.
15. Brush the edges of one round with the egg wash.
Note: The egg wash helps hold the corners—that you will be pinching—together.
16. Place 1½ teaspoons of filling in the center of a round.
17. Gently lift two edges of the round and pinch the corner gently together.
Tip: Your round will look a little like an open ice cream cone with the far rounded edge still flat on the cookie sheet.
Note: You do not want to completely cover the filling, when you are done there should be a triangular opening at the top of the cookie, with the filling showing through.
18. Lift the remaining edge over the filling and pinch the two corners—that are formed as you lift the dough.
Tip: Ideally, you want an even, triangular shape with an open top.
19. Continue brushing edges, filling and folding the disks into the triangular shape until all the cookies are filled.
20. Brush the remaining egg wash over the sides and top edges of each cookie.
Tip: The egg wash will give the cookies a glossy sheen and also aids in browning.
Note: I ended up with 16 hamantaschen—which I spread out on two 12 x 18 sheet pans. I could have crowded most of them on to one sheet, but that would have left me with just a few on the second pan.
21. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes—with one tray one each oven rack.
Note: You will be baking the cookies for a total of 18-22 minutes.
22. Rotate the baking sheets and switch the racks the pans are on.
Tip: Oven heats are not even. The back of the oven is hotter than the front and the top rack is hotter than the bottom rack.
Note: The front edge of the pan that was on the top rack is now facing towards the back of the bottom rack.
23. Bake for another 8-12 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown.
24. Let the hamantaschen cool on baking sheets.
Tip: While the cookies are hot that are fairly brittle and might break if you lift them off too soon.
25. Store any remaining hamantaschen in an airtight container at room temperature.
Note: Some of the hamantaschen made it all the way to breakfast the next day.
Hamantaschen filling recipes
The recipes given here are enough to fill half of the cookies produced by the recipe above. If you plan to make all of the cookies the same, double the amounts given. While the poppy seed filling is traditional, you may use your imagination to create your own filling.
Note: Bon Appetit also gives two more filling recipes: Honey-Nut Filling and Date-Orange Filling which would produce enough filling to stuff a double recipe.
Poppy Seed Filling
¼ cup poppy seeds (grind a bit before adding the rest of the ingredients)
2 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. milk
¾ tsp. lemon juice
¾ tsp. Karl’s Orange Infused Sugar
Pinch Kosher salt
¼ tsp. vanilla
1. Combine all of the ingredients and grind together into a thick paste.
Tip: The original recipe was very unclear on how to do this. When I combined the ingredients, I was left with a soupy mess. Pouring this slop into a spice grinder—in two batches—I was able produce the thick paste that would not just run off the row disks.
Note: Poppy seeds have a hard—although tiny—shell. You need to break these open to release the starchy interiors to absorb the liquid in the recipe. When I make this recipe again—and I will—I will use a spice grinder to process about three quarters of the dry poppy seeds into a course powder, before I add the liquid ingredients.
Karl’s Apricot and Orange Ginger Filling
¼ cup dried apricots
2 Tbs. Karl’s Orange Ginger Marmalade
1. Mince the apricots finely.
Tip: Lay one apricot on top of a second and make 5-7 slices. Rotate the stack 90º and make a second 5-7 slices.
2. Put the apricots into a small bowl and stir in the marmalade.
3. Let the filling rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
Tip: Over this melding time, the apricots will absorb some of the marmalade.
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