I feel like I’m the only person who has never made hamentaschen . Am I?
This past week, my facebook cooking group has posted endless photos of their beautiful hamentaschen cookies. I was truly inspired and somewhat hesitant to attempt making these because of the rash of comments I saw stating that some of these could be combustable in the oven.
After lots of PINTEREST research and a few suggestions I landed on the tried, true and literally foolproof recipe by Tori Avey. Well guys, this is now my all-time favourite tasting hamentaschen and ya know what? They were not hard to make at all. My other friend, Amy Kritzer AKA WHATJEWWANNAEAT also gave us some of her top hamentaschen tips which included a stellar one that states YOU MUST place your assembled cookies in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to baking them. Do you know why?
This alleviates the dreaded “busted cookie syndrome” when they magically open and spread on the baking sheet just as quickly as MOSES parted the seas.
Tori Avey gives you two dough options to work with on her blog – a basic oil dough and a butter dough. I opted for the butter dough because….uh….butter makes me happy.
These triangular filled cookies are pretty stunning to look at and the fillings can be tweaked from the traditional ones you can buy at the local bakery.
Many of you might ask….WHAT IS PURIM? Not only does Tori Avey concoct delicious recipes but she also has the whole scoop on this holiday on her blog.
I chose to make two types of fillings with my own twist on Tori’s suggestions.
A prune and date and an espresso Nutella with a chocolate drizzle.
Let me tell you something. When Steve taste tested the Nutella ones I thought he was going to fall over from the flavour combo. If you are a chocolate/coffee lover, these are definitely for you.
I’m more of a traditionalist, and loved the prune/date combo. Oh, and if you’re wondering how I came up with that it was because I had ONE cup of prunes left in my pantry and a ton of dates. I mean, how bad can that be?
Back to the story of Purim for a second. Ever wonder why Hamantaschen are triangular?
This is always a point of debate between Jews but know this…..we love food symbolism. There are at least three different answers to the question of why Hamantaschen are triangular.
Some people say the three-pointed cookies represent a three-pointed hat Haman wore. To take a bite out of Haman’s hat is to defy him and, well… to say EFF you, Haman. We see your evil plan and we’re stopping it. But… did Haman wear a three-pointed hat? Who knows!? There’s no mention of it in the original story that goes WAAAAAY WAAAAAY WAAAAAY back.
Others say the cookies represent Haman’s ears that were cut off of his head before he was hanged. Sorry, but that’s what they used to do back then before you were taken to the rope.
And then there’s the third story. Which I happen to like much better than the hat and the sliced off ears.
This explanation is that they were originally called “mohn tashen” in German. Mohn meaning poppy seeds and taschen meaning pockets—cookie pockets filled with poppy seeds!
These poppy seed-filled cookies became a popular Purim treat among European Jews in the early 19th century. ‘
I loooove poppyseeds and now I wish I had made these Hamantaschen with MOHN instead of PRUNE. Ha ha.
Now then, let’s get to the nitty gritty of the two dough choices here.
I loved both recipes because the dough is super easy to make. Most Hamantaschen dough is made with butter. While buttery dough is delicious, it can be hard to shape and handle.I found this out this morning when I removed the dough from the fridge and it was as hard as concrete. Don’t fret, a butter dough doesn’t take long to soften up. I did have to use some muscle to roll it because my patience was lagging today.
Now that I’m comfortable with making these, I am 100% going to try making the oil dough next time. I believe it’s every bit as delicious and easier to deal with….especially bright and early in the morning. As well, if you are kosher, the oil dough makes this recipe parve if that is important to you.
There are so many tricks and tips that go along with making these delectable cookies but I found that the two most important ones are these:
- 1 teaspoon of filling may not look like much, but it’s FINE. Don’t be tempted to overfill your dough or you will be VERY SORRY.
- Chill…baby.. chill. Placing the cookies in the freezer BEFORE you bake them will ensure that they hold their shape.
Okay, so I think I have convinced you to make these. Time to roll.
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 extra large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsps grated orange zest (I like the dough zesty!)
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- Slice room temperature butter into small chunks and place in a stand mixerAdd sugar to the bowl. With the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes until it's light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest to the bowl. Beat again until creamy and well mixed.
- Sift flour and salt into the bowl.
- With mixer on low speed mix until a crumbly dough forms.
- Begin to knead dough with hands until a smooth dough ball forms. Try not to overwork the dough, only knead till the dough is the right consistency.
- Form the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours to overnight.
- Before you begin to assemble the hamantaschen, choose and make your filling and have it on hand to work with. Lightly flour a smooth, clean surface. Unwrap the dough disk and place it on the floured surface. The dough will be very firm after chilling.
- Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to ¼ inch thick. At the beginning, it will be tough to roll out-- you may need to pound it a bit but fear not, the buttery dough will soften as you continue rolling it. While you roll, cracks may appear on the edges of the dough. Easy fix. Just use you fingers to repair any cracks and continue rolling
- When the dough reaches ¼ inch thickness, scrape the dough up with a pastry scraper, lightly reflour the surface, and flip the dough over. Continue rolling the dough out very thin (less than ⅛ of an inch thick is ideal). The thinner you roll the dough, the more delicate and crisp the cookies will turn out-- just make sure that the dough is still thick enough to hold the filling and its shape! If you prefer a thicker, more doughy texture to your cookies (less delicate), keep the dough closer to ¼ inch thick. Lightly flour the rolling pin occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Use a 3-inch cookie cutter (not smaller) or the 3-inch rim of a glass to cut circles out of the dough, cutting as many as you can from the dough.
- Gather the scraps and roll them out again. Cut circles. Repeat process again if needed until you've cut as many circles as you can from the dough. You should end up with around 35 circles (unless you've kept your dough on the thicker side, which will result in less cookies).Place a teaspoon of filling (whichever filling you choose) into the center of each circle. Do not use more than a teaspoon of filling, or you run the risk of your hamantaschen opening and filling spilling out during baking. Cover unused circles with a lightly damp towel to prevent them from drying out while you are filling.
- Assemble the hamantaschen in three steps. First, grasp the left side of the circle and fold it towards the center to make a flap that covers the left third of the circle.
- Grasp the right side of the circle and fold it towards the center, overlapping the upper part of the left side flap to create a triangular tip at the top of the circle. A small triangle of filling should still be visible in the center. Here's a visual of how to do it. FOLDING HAMANTASHEN
- Grasp the bottom part of the circle and fold it upward to create a third flap and complete the triangle. When you fold this flap up, be sure to tuck the left side of this new flap underneath the left side of the triangle, while letting the right side of this new flap overlap the right side of the triangle. This way, each side of your triangle has a corner that folds over and a corner that folds under-- it creates a "pinwheel" effect. This method will help to keep the cookies from opening while they bake.Pinch each corner of the triangle gently but firmly to secure the shape. If any cracks have formed at the places where the dough is creased, use the warmth of your fingers to smooth them out.
- Repeat this process for the remaining circles.
- When all of your hamantaschen have been filled, place them on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet, evenly spaced. Now it's time for the big chill. Place the cookies in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- When ready to bake remove them from the freezer and place them in the oven for 15-17 minutes, until the cookies are cooked through and lightly golden. Start checking them at 15 minutes; because the dough thickness tends to vary on these cookies they can cook quite fast if rolled thin. In most ovens it will take around 15-20 minutes, but best to keep an eye on them as to avoid overtaking or burning.
- Cool the cookies on a wire rack.
- When cool, dust with powdered sugar if desired or drizzle with chocolate.
- 1 cup pitted prunes
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 tsp orange zest
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan except for the brown sugar. Stir and bring to a boil for one minute.
- Reduce heat to medium low so the mixture simmers slowly and constantly. Cover the pot. Let the mixture simmer covered for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
- Remove the lid from the pan. Let the mixture continue to simmer for 3-5 more minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated/absorbed. Keep a close eye on the pan to make sure the prunes don't burn. When there are about 3 tbsp of liquid left in the pan, remove from heat.
- Stir the brown sugar into the mixture till brown sugar melts and dissolves.
- You can mash the prune mixture with a potato masher or use a small blender for a smooth puree forms.
- Let cool to room temperature before using. Store in a sealed, airtight container in the refrigerator. Refrigerating the filling to chill completely will make it easier to work with when filling hamantaschen.
- ½ cup nutella
- 1 heaping teaspoon instant coffee or espresso mixed with ¼ teaspoon boiling water (coffee paste)
- 100g bar dark chocolate (72% or higher)
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso
- 2 tablespoons nutella
- Mix the nutella with the coffee paste until smooth. Use 1 teaspoon to fill each circle of dough.
- This recipe will fill about 10 -12 circles. If you want to do the entire recipe with nutella, double the filling recipe above.
- Once the cookies are completely cooled, make the drizzle in a heat proof glass bowl over simmering hot water on the stove. Combine all ingredients and keep mixing until melted and glossy.
- Drizzle over cookies then let the chocolate set.
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