Hamentashen cookies are a beloved treat, especially during the festive occasion of Purim. These triangular cookies, with their delectable fillings peeking through the center, hold a special place in Jewish culinary traditions. This guide will explore everything you need to know to create these delightful treats in your kitchen.
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What are Hamentashen Cookies
Hamentashen, also spelled hamantaschen or hamantashen, is a traditional Jewish shortbread cookie typically enjoyed during the Jewish holiday of Purim. These triangular-shaped cookies symbolize the defeat of the villainous Haman, whose hat or ears they are said to resemble. Filled with various sweet fillings, they are both delicious and meaningful. Here are two examples: S’mores Hamentashen and Biscoff butter Hamentashen cookies.
Why Is This the Best Hamentashen Recipe
Will “because I said so” be a valid answer? You see, I have spent my entire teens and adult years searching and tasting what I believe is every Hamentachen recipe out there (We, the Jewish people, take our cookies and Challah very seriously). This one surprised me when my friend wrote it down on Post-It paper when we volunteered to bake some cookies with our preschool girls.
- So now you know it is simple for a 3-year-old to do it.
- It is also super easy to make; you only need a large bowl, a rolling pin, and a circle cookie cutter.
- These are fun. I host a “Hamentashen Party” at my house every year, inviting our friends and their kids. I make the dough an hour ahead, then let the kids shape and fill the cookies. It’s fun to see how creative kids can get.
- They travel great for those who want to FedEx 2nd day air (or any shipment options available) to your loved ones far away.
- And, of course, I am saving the best for last. These are DE.LI.CI.OUS! I’m talking about the crumbly, buttery, tender, not dry but not moist, perfect balance of dough to filling; I wish Purim was every weekend goodness.
To make hamentashen cookies, you’ll need:
- All Purpose Flour
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter, soft and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
- Egg yolks. At room temperature, Reserve the egg white to seal the cookies.
- Vanilla extract
- Sour cream.
- Your choice of filling.
Dairy-Free, Parve Hamentaschen Option
- Replace the butter with vegan butter or margarine.
- Replace the sour cream with orange juice or unsweetened, unflavored apple sauce. Or use water if you wish.
Filling and Flavor Options
The beauty of hamentashen lies in their versatility. While traditional hamentashen fillings include poppy seed filling and prune, you can experiment with various flavors to suit your taste preferences. Some popular options include strawberry jam, apricot, raspberry, cherry (or any of your preferred fruit filling or pie filling), and, of course, everyone’s favorite: Nutella. The most important role is that the filling should be thick enough not to spread before shaping it.
If you want the dough to add some flavor to the dough, here are some options:
- Add orange zest from one orange to the dough.
- Replace 15% of the flour (50g) with natural cocoa powder.
- Add 1/2 cup of sprinkle for extra texture and fun colors.
- Add 1/2 cup of roasted nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, or pecan.
How to Make Hamentashen
Making the Dough
- Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients: butter, egg yolks, vanilla, and sour cream.
- Use your fingers and hands to mix the ingredients and form a soft dough.
- Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
How to Shape Hamentashen Cookies
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disc of dough to about 1/4-1/8 inch thickness.
- Use a round cookie cutter or glass to cut out circles of dough.
- Place a small spoonful of filling in the center of each circle, then brush the edges with the egg whites.
- To shape the hamentashen, fold the edges of the circle up to form a triangle, pinching the corners tightly to seal in the filling. Place over prepared cookie sheets. Bake.
Tips and Troubleshooting
The Hamentashen Opened Up During Baking
First, this is very common and happens all the time. It is a problem if all or most of the cookies open up. Here are some reasons and tips on how to avoid it:
- Too much filling. Add less than you want. For a 3-inch circle, use about one teaspoon of filling, the size of a Hersey’s Kiss (also a great filling), or three chocolate chips. I always use a piping bag to refill the cookies after baking.
- Brush the dough with egg white or water before shaping the dough. This is kind of “gluing the cookies.”
- Freeze or refrigerate the dough for about 30-60 minutes before baking. This way, the cookies will be set before they spread and open.
- The dough is too thick. Roll the dough no thicker than 1/4 inch.
My dough is too sticky or too dry.
Too much or insufficient one of the ingredients will result in a dry, hard-to-roll dough or too sticky dough. Make sure you measure the ingredients accurately. For best results, use a Kitchen Scale.
Always Use Butter
Or vegan butter. Do not use oil. I’ve tried it. It’s bad. The butter contributes to the flour, making the cookies crumbly and easy to bite.
Don’t Add More Flour
The dough might seem sticky during rolling, and you might want to add extra flour. Don’t. Sprinkle working surface and the rolling pin, and avoid mixing it in the dough (kneading). Mixing more flour into the dough will create too many gluten chains, giving us stiff dough and tough cookies.
Storing, Freezing, And Making Ahead
Hamentashen cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. For longer storage, they can be frozen for up to 2 months. The dough can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator, wrapped with plastic wrap.
You can fill and shape the cookies, then freeze them for up to 2 months. Make sure to line the cookies in an even one layer, line with parchment paper, and line another layer of cookies.
Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from a plot to annihilate them, as recounted in the biblical Book of Esther. The story of Purim takes place in ancient Persia, where Haman, an advisor to King Ahasuerus, devises a plan to exterminate all the Jews in the empire. However, Queen Esther, who is Jewish but has kept her heritage secret, and her uncle Mordecai stop Haman’s plan through a series of events orchestrated by divine intervention.
Mahm is German poppyseed, and Tash is a pocket.
No. During Passover, no leavened food such as flour is allowed.
Oz-ney Ha-man, means Haman’s ears.
More Jewish Recipes You Might Enjoy
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Triangle shortbread cookies filled with sweet fillings.
- 3 cups AP Flour (360g)
- 1 TBS Baking powder
- 1/2 cup Sugar (100g)
- 2 Sticks Unsalted butter, soften. (225g)
- 2 large Egg yolks
- 4 TBS Sour cream (60g)
- 1 TSP Vanilla ext.
- 1 Cup Nutella, poppy seeds filling, or jam for filling
- 1/4 Cup Powdered sugar (30g)
Line two cookie pans with parchment paper.
Place ingredients in a big bowl and mix with your hands until a dough is formed. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into four pieces.
Flour the surface of your work area and roll each piece 1/4" thick.
Use a 3-inch cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles.
Mount the center of each circle with one teaspoon of the filling.
Use the egg white leftover to brush some around the edges of the cut circles.
Form a triangle by lifting each circle with your index fingers and pinching the corner where the dough meets. Repeat with the other two corners.
Place the shaped cookies over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Heat the oven to 350F (180C). Place the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer while the oven is heating.
Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack.
- Store the cookies at room temperature for up to five days. Or freeze for up to six weeks in a freeze bag.
- The dough can be made up to one day in advance, wrapped in plastic, and refrigerated.
- To freeze the unbaked, shaped cookies, line them in one layer, place a parchment paper, and line another layer. Freeze for up to six weeks.
- For non-dairy, Parve option: use vegan butter, or margarine instead of butter, and replace the sour cream with orange juice, unsweetened, unflavored apple sauce.