Did you watch the Oscars? I like watching the Oscars and Emmys (but generally hate the Grammys). I know the awards shows are always unfortunately long, and pretty boring during some parts, and there are always lots of screw ups because…live television, but it’s kinda fun to see what everyone is wearing, what outlandish and/or political stuff people talk about in their speeches, and see people actually having some personality other than the last character they played. I actually thought this was one of the better Oscars in recent memory. The whole “let’s have an offensive comedian host” thing was getting old, and I think Ellen fit the bill pretty well.
And call me a jerk, but I still cannot stop laughing about the whole Travolta mispronunciation situation and subsequent reactions. It’s hilarious.
Anyway…for the past few years, I’ve noticed a slew of recipes/photos of these little triangle cookies floating around the interwebs during March. Considering I hadn’t the slightest clue what they were, I figured I’d do a little research and test them out. Enter: hamantaschen. Hamantaschen, or Haman’s pockets, are apparently a staple of the Jewish holiday Purim. There’s obviously a lot of meaning and history behind Purim, but from what I gather, there is also much feasting involved. I like feasting. Since I’m no expert on Purim, you should do your own research to learn more. Start here.
Hamantaschen remind me of rugelach in a lot of ways, but the dough is heartier and the cookies are obviously larger. The dough is delicious (uh, hello…butter and cream cheese?) and not too sweet, while also taking enough of a back seat to let whatever filling you choose be the star of the show. And they pack up nicely, which is good because you probably shouldn’t eat them all yourself. But you totally can if you want to. I won’t judge you. It’s Fat Tuesday, so you have the perfect excuse.
You can pretty much fill these with whatever you’d like. Jams work quite well, but you could use any number of other things, too. I chose apricot jam for one variety, nutella and cinnamon for the second, and almond-brown sugar-maple for the third. For the almond filling, all I did was toast up some raw almonds, pulse them in the food processor, and stir in small amounts of grade B maple syrup, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt until the flavor fit what I was looking for. No exact science there. Make sure you use the egg wash to help pinch/seal the folds. If you neglect to do so, they will pretty much just open back up while they’re in the oven and ooze jam all over your pan.
recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
for the dough:
8 TB unsalted butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese at room temperature
4 TB sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste (extract is fine, too)
1 1/3 cups plus 2 TB flour
1/4 tsp salt
jam, nut mixture, nutella, or whatever you plan to use for the filling
1 egg, beaten with 1 TB water (for the egg wash)
- In your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add sugar and mix for one minute longer, then scrape down the bowl again.
- Add the egg, vanilla paste/extract, and salt, mixing until combined. Again, scrape down the bowl.
- Add the flour. The mixture should come together and be a tad sticky. If it feels too wet, add an additional tablespoon of flour.
- Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line two sheet pans with parchment.
- To form the hamantaschen: roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter (3 inches worked perfectly for me), cut the dough into circles. Spoon a teaspoon of your filling in the center. Dip your finger in the egg wash, and moisten the edge of the dough circle. Fold the dough in from three sides, firmly pinching the corners as you go. You may need to dab a little egg wash here or there to ensure that your folds stick. Leave the filling exposed in the center.
- Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- Cool completely. You do not want that lava-hot jam in your mouth. Or maybe you do, but let me be your common sense and tell you that it’s not worth it to burn your tongue on one cookie, because then you won’t be able to taste the rest!