Jewish Holidays: Hamantashen for Purim
Purim celebrates how Queen Esther saved the Jewish people from annihilation at the hands of the evil Haman. Haman wore a three-cornered hat, and Hamantashen cookies are made in the shape of the three-cornered hat.
Purim is a time for laughter, fun, and celebration. In addition to reading the Megillah of Eshther (scroll of Esther), observant Jews dress up in costumes, tell jokes, and throw fun parties including food and wine. They also make baskets of gifts to give to the poor for Purim.
The following Hamantashen recipe is a favorite from Claudia Roden's "The Book of Jewish Food." There are few minor changes due to this author's preference.
Traiditional Poppy Seed Hamantashen
Poppy seeds and prunes are the most traditional fillings for Hamantashen. Today, Jews make these delectable cookies with any fruit fillings or even chocolate chips or caramel in the center.
- 1 & 3/4 cup flour
- Pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- A few drops vanilla
- 5 oz unsalted butter
- 2 eggs
- A little milk (if necessary)
To Make Cookie Dough
- Sift dry ingredients into a bowl: flour, sugar, and salt. Sift in the vanilla extract.
- Cut the cold butter into pieces and mix into the flour with a pastry cutter (or rub it in by hand).
- Beat the egg and mix into dough.
- If necessary, add a little milk to bind the dough.
- Wrap in plastic and chill in refrigerator.
Poppy Seed Filling
Prepare the poppy seed filling while the dough chills.
- 1 cup poppy seeds
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons raisins
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Make Poppy Seed Filling
- Simmer poppy seeds and milk in a cooking pot for about 15 minutes, or until thick.
- Add honey, sugar, raisins, and butter.
- Cook for 5 more minutes.
- Add lemon zest and lemon juice.
- Mix well and allow to cool.
Make and Bake Hamantashen
Divide the dough into four balls. Work with one ball at a time. Keep each ball in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Dust work surface with flour.
- Roll out dough with rolling pin to about 1/8 of an inch thick.
- Cut into 3-inch rounds with a cookie cutter, pastry cutter, or even the mouth of a drinking glass.
- Gather the scraps and form into a ball, roll again and repeat. No need to waste.
When all of the dough has been made into rounds:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of each round.
- Lift up sides and pinch together in three places. This creates the three cornered hat.
- Place hamantashen on greased cookie sheet.
- Beat the other egg and brush the tops of the cookies.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes; cookies will be golden brown.
Hamantashen are fragile. Allow them to cool on the cookie sheets. After cooling, lift them carefully with a spatula.