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Monday, March 10, 2014

Cookies in All of Their Tri-Cornered Glory

Happy Monday everyone! The weekend of Purim is upon us, and to celebrate the happy occasion, I made delicious hamantaschen! These scrumptious sugary cookies are recognizable by their 3 corners, and traditional poppy seed filling (though I also love cherry, almond, and hazelnut spread). Today I bring you 3 recipes (one for every cookie corner) to satisfy everyone at your party. But beware...those that eat hamantaschen tend not to eat just one (it's hard to stop before your 5th....).

Sylvia Lav’s Perfect Hamantaschen

The New York Times

For the prune butter:
  • 3 pounds pitted prunes, ideally tart ones
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (or more if your prunes aren’t tart)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Water
  • For the dough:
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 3 tablespoons of warm water
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup sugar
For assembly:
  • Melted butter, about one stick
  • Extra flour
  • For the prune butter:
  1. Put prunes in large pot. Add lemon juice and sugar.
  2. In a separate pot, boil water. Pour boiling water over the prunes.
  3. Cook the prunes on medium heat for 20 minutes. Turn heat off, cover, and let them sit overnight in the pot on the stove.
  4. The next morning, beat the prunes in a mixer on low until they form a smooth mixture, with no pieces of skin visible. The consistency should be a smooth enough purée that it can drop off a spoon.
  • For the dough:
  1. Make a pile of flour, baking powder and salt. Dig a well into the middle.
  2. Put two eggs in the middle with half the oil and water, half the sugar, and half the lemon rind. Do not break the flour walls.
  3. With a fork, use gentle circular motions to mix flour into the middle from the walls while keeping the walls solid.
  4. Gradually, very slowly, add the rest of the eggs, oil, water, sugar and lemon rind until everything is mixed in. Finally, mix in the rest of the walls. Your dough will be very sticky. Use a dough scraper to scrape it up. Knead it with small dustings of flour (not too much extra!) until you get a nice, silky dough. Wrap it up in waxed paper and put it in the fridge overnight.
  • Assembly:
  1. Cut the dough into three segments. On a floured surface, roll out one segment evenly to about 1/8" thick.
  2. Melt some butter in a dish and set aside with a pastry brush.
  3. Dip an inverted glass or 2- or 3-inch-diameter glass or cookie cutter into flour and use it to cut as many circular pieces of dough as possible, re-dipping into flour as needed. Paint an X of melted butter onto the center of each circle with the brush.
  4. Using two teaspoons, place a small amount of prune butter in the center of each circle, on top of the butter. If you use too much they will fall apart.
  5. Lift up the edges of the circle so they form a triangle. Gently pinch each corner closed.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. The corners should be just slightly golden-brown. Watch them near the end because they go from golden to burnt very easily.

Hamantashen with Poppy Seed Filling
Adapted from “Schmaltz” (Modan Publishing) by Shmil Holland

For the dough:
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature, in small pieces
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten, for the glaze

For the filling: 
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Grated zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon brandy
  • 1/2 tablespoon orange liqueur
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract.
  1. Put the confectioners’ sugar and the egg yolks in a food processor and blend. Add butter and lemon zest and process to blend. Gradually add the flour and the salt, pulsing until it forms a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Put milk, sugar and orange zest in a saucepan over medium heat. Grind poppy seeds in coffee grinder. When mixture is warm, turn heat to low and add poppy seeds and raisins. Cook until the seeds absorb the milk and the mixture is thick, about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice, brandy, orange liqueur and butter. Stir and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in the vanilla extract, remove from the heat and cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 pastry sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness and use a cookie cutter or glass to cut 3-inch circles. Put a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of each, and press up the sides to form triangles. Brush the tops with beaten egg.
  5. Bake until golden and dough is delicately firm all the way through, about 15 minutes. If trays are on different racks, switch them after about 10 minutes.

Traditional Hamantaschen
Gourmet March 1997


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons packed finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 2/3 cup filling such as Date Orange Filling, Apple Raisin Filling, prune lekvar, poppy-seed filling, or apricot or cherry jam

  1. Into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat shortening, sugar, and egg at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add zest and juice and beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture, stirring, until a smooth dough is formed. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.
  2. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  3. Halve dough. On a lightly floured surface roll out half of dough (keeping other half wrapped and chilled) 1/4 inch thick. With a 3-inch cutter cut out as many rounds as possible. Transfer rounds with a metal spatula to a large baking sheet, arranging about 1/2 inch apart. Reroll scraps and cut out more rounds. Put 1 teaspoon filling in center of each round and fold up edges to form triangular cookies resembling a tricornered hat, pinching corners together and leaving filling exposed. (Pinch dough tightly enough so seams are no longer visible and sides are taut enough to prevent cookies from leaking filling as they bake.)
  4. Bake hamantaschen in middle of oven 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Cool hamantaschen on baking sheet 5 minutes and transfer to racks to cool completely. Make more hamantaschen with remaining dough and filling in same manner. Hamantaschen keep in an airtight container at room temperature 5 days.

Happy baking!

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