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Hi Bold Bakers!
NOTE FROM GEMMA: Bold Bakers, let me introduce you to Dee from One Sarcastic Baker! She is here to teach us recipes that she loves and the science behind some of the most pressing baking questions out there. This recipe is for lovely Hamantaschen Cookies, a Jewish staple during Purim holiday. Dee will be sharing more with us in the coming months as part of our Bold Baking Network. Here she is, in her own words!
March is upon us, which means it is time for some hamantaschen.
You know, those tender and crumbly triangle cookies filled with chocolate, poppy seeds, or jam that literally melt in your mouth and make you go OMG, YUM!
Now you are wondering Hama… what? And also why March? Great questions — and I guess the best way to answer them all is to provide you with your first (or 100th) lesson in Jewish history, culture, and cuisine.
What Are Hamantaschen?
Hamantaschen are cookies made of shortbread dough and shaped into a triangle, the cookies are pronounced Ha-man-ta-shen, named after the evil Haman, and are also known as Haman’s ears.
Who Was Haman And Why Triangle?
Once upon a time in the faraway kingdom of Persia lived a very bored king who loved nothing better than throwing lavish parties and drinking wine until he knew no more. In fact, the king used to get so drunk he often would dress up in silly outfits. He would get so drunk he would agree to anything his greedy advisor Hamam (who wore a triangle hat at all times) recommended, like executing all the jews in the kingdom.
Lucky for us the king loved women as much as he liked to party and drink, and he fell in love with the beautiful Esther, a Jewish woman. So the king withdrew Haman’s order and gave him a taste of his medicine and hung him from the tallest tree. The tree was so tall that when you looked up it seemed like Hamann was hanging from his ear.
Soon after, Hamantaschen cookies were born, as a reminder that even in the worst of times there are cookies to bake.
Every year in March during Purim, Jewish people around the world read the scroll of Esther, dress up in silly outfits, and of course bake and eat Hamantaschen. In fact, not just eat but share baskets full of cookies and sweets with friends, family, and neighbors.
How To Make Hamantaschen
It doesn’t get easier or more therapeutic than these cookies. All you need to do is place the ingredients in a large bowl, roll up your sleeves and mix it all together until a smooth and soft dough is formed.
The next step is to fill and shape the cookies, then, and this might just be the hardest part: deciding which filling to use. The traditional filling is poppy-seed filling or apricot jam. But my go-to is Nutella, and you can even use peanut butter, cookie butter, or homemade strawberry jam.
To shape the cookies, follow the next steps:
- Divide the dough into 2 parts and roll each part into ¼” thick. The dough is not sticky but it would help to lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut circles and dot each circle with your choice of filling at the center.
- Use a small brush to brush the edges of the circles with egg white, or water. This will prevent the cookies from losing their shape during baking.
- Use your finger and thumb to hold the edges of the circle then pinch the dough where it meets.
- Repeat twice more to form a triangle, then place in a baking sheet fitted with parchment paper and bake.
I baked these cookies probably dozens of times and the main issue I came across was the cookies losing their shape during baking. But it is super easy to prevent:
- Roll the dough ¼” thick, or the dough will puff too much during baking and break.
- Brush with egg white or water, this will be the “glue” that keeps the cookies’ shape.
- Do not fill the cookie with more than 1 tsp. I know how tempting it is, but too much filling will spread the cookies. You can always pipe some filling into the center after baking.
- Freeze or refrigerate the cookies before baking. This way the cookies will set before the butter has a chance to melt and spread.
If the cookies do spread and lose their shape, who cares? The cookies are still delicious and remember, the whole idea is making Haman look bad, so you’re good!
How To Make Hamantaschen Ahead (And How To Store Them)
You can make the dough fill, shape, and freeze the cookies up to 6 weeks in advance. Make sure to line the cookies in an even layer in a freezer bag or a plastic airtight container. Also, it is important to separate the layers with parchment paper.
The cookies should be stored at room temperature in a container for up to 5 days.
Dee’s Expert Tips For Hamantaschen Cookies
- Very important for all of the ingredients to be at room temperature. This is the best way to form a cohesive dough that comes together easily.
- Do not be tempted to add more sour cream or liquid. Keep mixing the ingredients with your hands and fingers and it will come together.
- If you want to use a stand mixer, make sure to place the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, and baking powder) in the bowl. Cut the butter into 1” pieces and mix it with the flour until the flour resembles wet sand. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix just until the dough comes together.
- To make the cookies vegan, replace the butter with vegan butter and increase it by 2 TBSP (24 g/ 1 oz). Instead of sour cream use apple sauce.
- For parve (no-dairy) option. Use non-dairy butter or margarine and replace the sour cream with apple sauce or orange juice.
- For a gluten-free option, use 1:1 gluten-free flour and follow the recipe as is.
- I used a small painting brush I got from a hobby store to brush the dough, if you do not have one use your finger.
Connect With Dee Everywhere
You can find Dee in all kinds of places on the internet. Give her a visit, a follow, and some online love!
Buy Dee’s Cookbook
If you’re into baking science, look no further than Dee’s cookbook that’s all about the why’s and how’s of baking — it’s literally called Baking Science. You can buy it right here.
The Bold Baking Network
Bigger Bolder Baking is thrilled to introduce you to the Bold Baking Network, a team of talented chefs and creators looking to teach, entertain, and help you on your baking journey. Here are more articles from our amazing collaborators.