Hamantashen is a triangular butter cookie usually filled with jam, fruits or poppy seeds. They are traditionally eaten by Jews on the holiday of Purim which is occuring this weekend. The shape of the cookies is representive of the tri-corner hat worn by the evil Haman, the villain of the story of Purim. It’s considered a mitzvah, or a good deed, to give ready to eat foods to your friends and neighbors on Purim and Hamantashen are the star treats in every basket.
Growing up, my mother would have to make at least two batches in the days leading up Purim so there would be enough left over to give out to friends and relatives because we would usually eat them all as they came out of the oven. Later, as my Grandmother got older, my mother would make a double or triple batch of dough and we would all go to my Grandmother’s apartment in Manhattan and make them together. There we would be, four generations, rolling them out on her dinning room table and baking them with her. I know that it was a very special time for her to be there with her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. The cookies were secondary.
After she passed away a few years ago at age 99, the one thing we asked for specifically were her rolling pins. They were very well worn and stained from many years of use. Even though we have other, newer ones, I always seem to pick up one of hers when I need to roll dough, especially the Hamantashen dough that we always made with her, so in a very special way, we know she is still here with us when we make these every year.
1 stick butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs honey
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
In my family, we prefer to fill with jellies such as strawberry, raspberry or apricot. We also use chocolate chips, a favorite with Renee and the kids. Traditionally though you will see Hamentashen filled with prune butter or a poppy seed filling (called Mohn).
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and honey. Blend until smooth with the paddle.
Add the baking powder and the salt. Slowly add the flour. Mix until it is just incorporated. If the dough is too sticky you can add a bit more flour as needed. It should have a smooth dough consistency. Roll into a large ball and wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for a half hour to rest.
Flour a countertop or work surface well. Using ¼ of the dough at a time, roll out to a ¼ inch thickness. With a cookie cutter or a juice glass cut out circles, remove the extra dough and return it to the bowl.
Place about ½ tsp of the filling of your choice in the center of the circle. Pinch two sides together to form two corners and pinch the top together to form the tri-corner “hat”.
Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat mat and bake for 10 -12 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown. Remove to a baking rack to cool completely. The jelly gets incredibly hot, so be careful if you can’t resist eating them right away!