Nutella-filled hamantaschen update a favorite Purim treat, the three-cornered pastry called hamantaschen. Before we get to the recipe, let’s get one thing straight. Purim is not a major Jewish holiday on the order of Rosh Hashanah or Passover.
Still, it is one I love to celebrate. The Purim story, found in a book called the Megillah or Book of Esther, features everything you could want in a political potboiler – an evil guy, a plot to kill innocent people, a beautiful and intelligent heroine, suspense, and a happy ending. Why bother watching House of Cards when you could hear this tale instead?
The Megillah is typically read on Purim with great merriment; often those reading dress up in costumes and the congregants get noisemakers to use when Haman, the evil protagonist, is mentioned. And then there are hamantaschen! No Jewish holiday is complete without food – in this case a thick cookie shaped like the three-corned hat that Haman supposedly wore and filled, traditionally, with sweetened prunes, apricots, or poppy seeds.
Of course, some of us who love the traditional story and merriment, prefer more creative hamantaschen. Last year my hamantaschen featured a filling reminiscent of charoset, with a dash of chocolate. This year, chocolate is at center stage; I went for the jar of Nutella, sitting in my pantry just begging to be part of the fun. The result is a sweet, not-too-thick dough (pâte sucrée to Francophiles) surrounding a Nutella brownie-cookie center.
While the dough recipe is close to the one I used last year, I learned a few tricks to simplify the dough making from Rose Levy Beranbaum, in her new book, The Baking Bible. The Nutella center for the hamantaschen is an adaptation of a Nutella cookie recipe.
Servings – about 24 (2 dozen) cookies (using a 3½-inch cookie cutter) Cost – $7.50
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 pinches table salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ½ cup sugar (I used ¼ cup white and ¼ cup raw/Turbinado sugar)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8-10 small chunks
- 1 cup Nutella (almost an entire 13 ounce container)
- 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- 1 egg yolk (from a large egg) mixed with 1½ teaspoons water
- 3 bowls (1 large, 1 medium, and 1 small)
- Wire whisk
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Food processor
- Mixer (hand-held or stand) or large fork
- Plate or other flat container for storing balls of filling
- A 1-gallon food storage bag
- Plastic wrap
- Rolling pin
- Pastry rolling mat (optional)
- 3 – 3½ inch round cookie or biscuit cutter (can have scalloped edges)
- Baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats
- Pastry brush
- Wire rack for cooling
- Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in the medium-sized bowl and set aside. Mix the egg, vanilla, and sour cream in the small bowl and set aside.
- Process the sugars in the food processor until they are finely ground. (Process for about 1 minute. This is how you turn ordinary white sugar into superfine sugar, and it will make the granules of the raw sugar, if you use it, much smaller.) Add the butter to the sugar(s) and process until they are well mixed. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and pulse the processor until the mixture forms tiny pea-sized crumbs. Add the egg, vanilla, and sour cream mixture to the crumbs and pulse again – about 10 times – just until everything is combined.
- Pour the crumbs into the food storage bag, close the bag (Ziploc works best) and knead the mixture for a short time with your hands. Divide it into 2 equal balls, loosely wrap them in plastic wrap and press into disks. Then refrigerate the disks for at least 30 minutes.
- While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then make the Nutella filling by putting all the ingredients in the large bowl and mix them together, preferably with a mixer. If you do use one, start slowly so that the flour doesn’t fly out of the bowl. The mixture will be crumbly. Form about 24 balls of dough about ¾ – 1 tablespoon of dough per ball and refrigerate them for a few minutes while you roll out the outer dough. (Form the rest of the Nutella filling into a log and put it in plastic wrap. You can either refrigerate the log, then cut it into coins to bake individual Nutella cookies along with the hamantaschen or freeze it for baking later.)
- Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured mat, board, or counter, roll the disk until it is about 12-13 inches in diameter and ⅛ inch thick. (I love my ruler with the Hebrew alphabet.) Cut the rounds as close together as possible, and place them on the lined cookie sheets, about 6 – 8 per sheet. Gather up dough scraps and re-roll them to use up all the dough. Repeat with the other disk.
- Lightly brush the egg yolk around the outside of each circle, put a Nutella filling ball in the middle and gently press it down. Pull together two sides of the circle and pull up the third, making a three-corned dough “hat” with the Nutella in the middle. Pinch each corner to seal it and lightly brush the outside with more egg wash. Bake one sheet of the hamantaschen at a time, each for about 20-22 minutes (turning it halfway through), until the outside corners get lightly brown. If you own enough baking sheets, double them up to make a thicker baking surface that helps prevent the bottoms from burning.
- When they are done, let them sit on the doubled baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack for cooling. Store the nutella-filled hamantaschen in a tightly closed container or freeze them. Of course, that assumes there are any left to store.
At Purim, it is traditional to visit friends, family and others (especially those in need and the elderly), delivering Shalach Manot or baskets of sweets and drinks. Wouldn’t these hamantaschen make a nice part of the basket – or simply a sweet reminder of your caring to someone in your community.