Things must be pretty quiet around here if the raging debate in my house surrounds the origins of hamantaschen – the triangular-shaped cookies traditionally served during Purim. Some say it is based on the shape of the hat worn by Haman – the villain in the story of Purim. Others say that the cookies resemble his ears. Here’s what Wikipedia says - I’m all about the cookies.
And if your only encounter with hamantaschen has been either in a diner or a generic bakery, this post is for you.
Hamantashen should NOT : a) be the size of a dessert plate, or b) require a fork and knife to break through the crust (or a trip to the dentist afterward to repair a chipped tooth). The pastry should be tender and flaky and not dependent on the filling for flavor. This is not so easy to do - to make a delicate crust you often wind up with cookies that collapse in the oven, oozing filling all over your baking sheet and resulting in a less-than-perfectly shaped cookie.
After years of hamantaschen-fails I was able to overcome this hurdle - except for getting the crust to be as tender and flavorful as I wanted. Once again, smitten kitchen to the rescue. A few years ago she posted a hamantaschen recipe using a cream cheese dough - it’s a pleasure to work with and delicious to boot. This dough, coupled with some tricks I’ve acquired over the years, yields perfectly formed – and perfectly delicious – hamantaschen. I hope you make some today and enjoy while debating the origins of your handiwork.
adapted from smitten kitchen
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temp
3 oz cream cheese, room temp
3 T sugar
1 t vanilla
1 1/3 c. + 4 t flour (180g)
1/4 t salt
1 egg, beaten, for glaze**
Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar till fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and salt – mix till combined. Add flour and beat just till well-incorporated. The dough will be on the sticky side. Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic and chill for at least one hour (or overnight).
Pre-heat oven to 350.
On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough till it is 1/4″ thick. Cut out circles to your desired size – anywhere from 2″ – 3″ (I used a glass that was 2 1/2″). Place the circles on parchment-lined baking sheets. Spoon a small amount of filling (about 1/2 teaspoon) into the center of each circle. Fold the dough into a triangle shape and pinch the corners firmly together. Brush the dough with the egg glaze, concentrating on the seams. Place the baking sheets in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
Bake 20-30 minutes, or till golden brown. Mine took 25 minutes.
Cool cookies on a wire rack.
*I go old school here and use Solo fillings (apricot and raspberry this time but you can use whatever flavors you like). I resisted these when I started baking, thinking they were too “lowbrow”. What I discovered was that my fancy-shmancy preserves seeped right out of the dough and that the canned fillings held up much better. I’d love to know what you use!
**Note: After reading Jodi Helman’s post on hamantaschen I sprinkled cinnamon-sugar on the cookies after applying the egg wash. Yes. This delicious recipe brought to you by Donuts, Dresses and Dirt
This delicious recipe brought to you by Donuts, Dresses and Dirt