Monday, March 21, 2011

Diary of a Secret Housewife: Hamantaschen

This weekend was the Jewish holiday of Purim, which is awesome for kids (carnival! masks! costumes!) and usually not so much fun for adults.  But I made my own fun by baking my own hamantaschen.   

Hamataschen are triangular cookies, usually filled with poppy seed or fruit jam, that are traditionally served on Purim.  There are various explanations for why they are served on Purim, but usually the story is that they resemble the ears or the hat of Haman, the villain of the Book of Esther, which is the story that gets read aloud at Purim.  Store-bought hamantaschen are usually not so delicious, as most Jewish bakeries are parve, meaning they don't use dairy products, including butter.  I was thus especially psyched to find Smitten Kitchen's recipe, which has butter AND cream cheese!   Whee!

Here's the recipe, with my revisions, adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 cups plus 4 teaspoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Various jams (I used boysenberry and raspberry) or prepared fillings (such as poppy seed or prune pastry filing)


Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add sugar and mix for one minute longer, then egg, vanilla extract, orange zest and salt, mixing until combined. Finally, add the flour. The mixture should come together and be a tad sticky. 

Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To form the hamantaschen, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it is about 1/4-inch thick (I like my cookies more delicate, so I went for a little less than 1/4 inch). Using a round cookie cutter (or just the top of a small bowl) and cut the dough into circles. Spoon a teaspoon of you filling of choice in the center.

Fold the dough in from three sides and firmly crimp the corners and give them a little twist to ensure they stay closed.  Some of my first batch of cookies flattened out completely in the oven, so trust me when I tell you to really crimp the corners tight (you can even brush a little bit of egg on the corners to seal them).  It also helps to refrigerate the folded cookies for a little while before baking, so that they hold their shape a bit more.

Next time I make this though, I'm not going to try to keep the three "walls" standing straight up.  I'm just going fold the three sides in a bit more, almost like a paper football, so that they almost completely cover the jam.  That way, they will hold the triangular shape.

But let me assure you that even if they come out all deformed or flat like mine did, they still taste pretty darn good.  The dough is light, buttery, and flavorful, not dry and hard like parve hamantaschen usually are.

Have you ever made hamantaschen?  Do you have any advice for how to get them to hold their shape?


Megan March 21, 2011 at 5:32 PM  

Oh funny! Smitten Kitchen just posted a new hamantaschen recipe on Friday that I wanted to make for my friend who LOVES the ones with poppyseed filling! SK said the new dough stands up a lot better (as in, holds its shape) - but I must admit, the idea of having cream cheese in the dough appeals to me more than a pretty triangle :D Yours look so delicious!

BigAppleNosh March 23, 2011 at 3:00 PM  

Yum!! My experience with hamantaschen has been more in the eating vein, rather than the cooking vein. However, you may have persuaded me to give it a try. :)

lavenderpug March 30, 2011 at 12:11 PM  

i love hamantaschen! yours look delicious. i love the ones with prune filling.

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