The only reason I actually attempted these wonderful little cookies is because I remember making them with a friend during a Purim carnival with very little supervision as a kid, which means that even a (precocious) child can make these things. Tonight being the start of Purim, one of my favorite holidays growing up, I thought I’d roll out this 5,000-or-so-year-old classic.
Hamantashen are cookies, traditionally eaten during Purim, that form a pocket, usually filled with poppy seeds (if you’re old school), but more often these days, with apricot or raspberry preserves. Its distinctive three-cornered shape, achieved by folding in the sides of a circular piece of dough, is the focal point of much folklore.
The Hamantashen come out of the oven as a screaming hot symbol with a harrowing tale of survival at its center. The cookies symbolize the defeated enemy of the Jewish people and thus have been speculated to be the form of the hat the enemy wore, the shape of his ear or even of his pockets where he stored the money with which he bribed the king to try to destroy the Jews.
On top of carrying so much historical weight for a mere cookie — anyone familiar with Judaism knows that rarely is a cookie just a cookie — they’re also pretty delicious. I eat them all year round.
This recipe yields about 3 dozen cookies and was adapted from Duff Goldman’s Hamentashen recipe.
- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Juice of 1/2 orange
- 2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
- Raspberry or apricot preserves for filling
- 1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash application before the oven
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, egg yolk, sugar, zest, both juices and brandy until smooth. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until a sticky dough is formed. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten into a disk and chill for a few hours or overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Working with about one quarter of the dough at a time and leaving the remaining in the refrigerator, roll on lightly floured surface a little less than 1/4-inch thick. Cut circles using cookie cutters 2 1/2 to 3 inches. Place a spoonful of filling (the preserves) in center (about 1 teaspoon per cookie) and then pinch one side up. Turn and pinch second and then third to make a triangular shape. Leave a little bit of the filling showing at the top. If you let them sit for a few minutes before putting them in the oven, the dough becomes firmer and the cookies chewier in the end.
Place cookies on parchment paper on cookie sheet, brush with a little beaten egg for sheen and bake until nicely browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Let them cool to room temperature and then let the carnival begin.