Given my food obsession, it’s no surprise that I define holidays by the foods associated with them. When it comes to the Jewish holiday of Purim, as far as I’m concerned, there is only one food – hamantaschen. But that’s not the end of the story. Of course, you say. If it’s Jewish, how could it be so simple? Answer – it’s not.
Traditional foods (whether they come from a particular religion, nationality, or geographic region) create partisans of various versions. Hamantaschen is no exception. There are 3 basic requirements for this Ashkenazic Jewish sweet:
- The outside of hamantaschen is dough,
- The dough is folded into a pastry shaped like a 3-cornered hat, a reminder of the 3-corned hat worn by the holiday’s villain, Haman, and
- There is filling in the middle.
But what type of dough – a thin pie crust-type dough, a more solid cookie-like dough or a soft and dense dough? And what filling – the traditional prune or poppy seed, or apricot, cherry, nut or chocolate.
I aimed for the center on the dough-spectrum – thinner than a cookie and less sweet, but not as thin as pie crust. For the filling I did a holiday mash-up, imagining what almost mortar-like Passover haroset would taste like if it included chocolate.
My initial inspiration came from Melissa Clark’s wonderful-looking mascarpone hamantaschen, although I didn’t use mascarpone and went rather far afield from her pistachio filling.
- The ingredient preparation is quick with a food processor but chilling the hamantaschen and forming them take time. Preparing the ingredients the night before baking works well.
- You can still make this recipe without a food processor, and in that case you won’t have to go the gym afterwards for an abs workout. You’ll need an extra bowl, a pastry cutter or knives and a way to finely chop the nuts, dates, and chocolate.
Servings – Makes approximately 36 Cost – $6-7
Ingredients for Dough
- 2 cups all purpose flour + bit extra for rolling out dough
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar
- ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- ½ cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (about 1 small lemon)
Ingredients for Filling
- ⅓ cup chopped (shelled) pistachios (I used Trader Joe’s roasted, unsalted)
- ⅓ cup firmly packed pitted dates (about 4 large)
- ⅓ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon grated zest & about 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 navel or Cara Cara orange
- Pinch of salt (not pictured)
- Food processor
- 2 small bowls
- Small plate and zester
- Plastic wrap
- Rolling pin
- 3 inch biscuit or cookie cutter
- Waxed paper or silicone mat
- Measuring spoons
- 2 teaspoons
- Large plate
- Half sheet cookie sheets
- Parchment or silicone mats
- Wire rack for cooling
- Metal & rubber spatulas
- Put the flour, sugars, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt into the food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until mixed. Add the butter and pulse about 10 (short) times until the butter is incorporated, but not evenly dispersed.
- Mix the sour cream and cream cheese in a small bowl. Add them to the flour and butter mixture and pulse again about 10 times.
- In the now-empty small bowl, combine the egg yolk, vanilla and grated lemon zest. (Check here for a fun way to separate the egg. Save the (refrigerated) egg white for meringue cookies.) Add that mixture to the dough and pulse just until the crumbly dough, begins to hold together.
- Dump the crumbs onto a silicone mat or waxed paper and form them into a ball. Cut the ball into 2 and press each piece into a flat disc about 5-6 inches wide. Wrap the discs in plastic and refrigerate them at least 2-3 hours or overnight.
- Place all the filling ingredients except for the fresh orange juice in the food processor and pulse until they are a sticky ball. Add the juice slowly, until the consistency is slightly looser than jam but not runny. Spoon the mixture into a small bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly sprinkle flour on a piece of waxed paper or a silicone mat. Take 1 dough disc and the filling out of the refrigerator. Roll the disc into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter. Cut out circles using the biscuit or cookie cutter. You will need to pull up and re-use a few scraps, but if you plan out your cuts, you should get 10-11 circles out of the disc before needing to re-roll it. Try not to work the dough too much because that tends to toughen it. If the dough gets soft, refrigerate it again (covered) before proceeding.
- In each circle, gently place a scant (not heaping) teaspoon of filling. Imagine that the circle has 3-sides – fold one (on the right or left) over the filling, then fold the opposite side so it overlaps the folded one and finally bring up the bottom. You have a 3-cornered pastry. Pinch each corner tightly. This dough has a tendency to open up when baking, so give each corner a good pinch to seal the dough.
- Refrigerate the uncooked hamantaschen for about 10-15 minutes. Then place them on a parchment or silicone mat-lined cookie sheet, pinch the corners again to be sure they are sealed, and bake them for 15 -20 minutes until golden. A few may open up – that’s just the way it goes. Even the misshapen ones taste good.
- Cool the hamantaschen on a wire rack.
Bet you can’t eat just one!