When I was a kid, my mom and I would made hamantaschen together around Purim time. Purim is the Jewish Halloween that happens every year in March.
I would stand at the counter helping her make them for what seemed like days and always complained of back pain to try and get out of it. Here’s why…
We started by making three batches of the dough early in the morning. We’d make the filling while the dough was chilling in the fridge. Then, we would start rolling the dough out and kept swapping out warm dough disks for cold dough disks. Then we’d stuff them…then fold them…then egg wash them…then bake them…. and then FINALLY we could eat them. It’s a process you have to dedicate to doing.
Or, you can just buy them. It’s much less work, but you miss out on the tradition of making them. Rest assured, Mom, the girls will have the same back aches I did when baking these with me that I did with you. 😉
Hamantaschen (Triangular Filled Jewish Cookies)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature & divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1–5 teaspoons water, if needed
Fillings: Mini Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese, Strawberry Jam & Apricot Jam :
- 1 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 small jar good quality strawberry jam
- 1 small jar good quality apricot jam
- To start, place butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together using an electric mixture for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add 1 egg and vanilla to the bowl. Beat again till creamy and well mixed.
- Sift flour and salt into the bowl.
- Mix with the electric mixer on low speed until a crumbly dough forms.
- Knead dough with hands until a smooth dough ball forms. Try not to overwork the dough, only knead till the dough is the right consistency – if the crumbles are too dry to form a smooth dough, add water slowly, 1 teaspoon at a time, using your hands to knead the liquid into the dough. Knead and add liquid until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky to the touch (not sticky), with a consistency that is right for rolling out. It can easily go from the right consistency to too wet/sticky, so add water very slowly. If the dough seems too wet, knead in a little flour till it reaches the right texture.
- Form the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours to overnight.
- Before you begin to assemble the hamantaschen, make cream cheese filling by combining cream cheese, flour, egg yolk, vanilla, sugar, and mini chocolate chips until very smooth. Refrigerate until ready to fill hamantaschen.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour a smooth, clean surface. Unwrap the dough disk and place it on the floured surface (the dough will be very firm after chilling).
- Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick (it will be difficult at first). As you roll, cracks may form on the edges of the dough. Repair any large cracks with your fingers and continue rolling.
- When the dough reaches 1/4 inch thickness, scrape the dough up, lightly reflour the surface, and flip the dough over. Continue rolling the dough out very thin (less than 1/8 of an inch thick). The thinner you roll the dough, the more delicate and crisp the cookies will turn out– just make sure that the dough is still thick enough to hold the filling and its shape! If you prefer a thicker, more doughy texture to your cookies (less delicate), keep the dough closer to 1/4 inch thick. Lightly flour the rolling pin occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Use a 3-inch cookie cutter (not smaller) or the 3-inch rim of a glass to cut circles out of the dough, cutting as many as you can from the dough.
- Gather the scraps and roll them out again. Cut circles. Repeat process again if needed until you’ve cut as many circles as you can from the dough. You should end up with around 35 circles (unless you’ve kept your dough on the thicker side, which will result in less cookies).
- Place a teaspoon of filling (either mini chocolate chip cream cheese filling or strawberry jam or apricot jam) into the center of each circle. Do not use more than a teaspoon of filling, or you run the risk of your Hamantaschen opening and filling spilling out during baking.
- Assemble the Hamantaschen in three steps. First, grasp the left side of the circle and fold it towards the center to make a flap that covers the left third of the circle.
- Grasp the right side of the circle and fold it towards the center, overlapping the upper part of the left side flap to create a triangular tip at the top of the circle. A small triangle of filling should still be visible in the center.
- Grasp the bottom part of the circle and fold it upward to create a third flap and complete the triangle. When you fold this flap up, be sure to tuck the left side of this new flap underneath the left side of the triangle, while letting the right side of this new flap overlap the right side of the triangle. This way, each side of your triangle has a corner that folds over and a corner that folds under– it creates a “pinwheel” effect. This method if folding is not only pretty– it will help to keep the cookies from opening while they bake.
- Pinch each corner of the triangle gently but firmly to secure the shape. If any cracks have formed at the places where the dough is creased, use the warmth of your fingers to smooth them out. Repeat this process for the remaining circles (Note: you’ll notice in the next picture that some of the hamantaschen use this folding method and some use the pinch the corner method – you’ll see from the post baking pictures why the fold over method is better).
- When all of your hamantaschen have been filled, place them on a lightly greased baking sheet, evenly spaced. Mix remaining 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons water and egg wash the dough part of each hamantaschen.
- Place them in the oven and let them bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are cooked through and lightly golden (keep a close watch over them as they cook to avoid overcooking or burning). (Note: do you see why the fold over method is better than the pinch the corner method now? :))
Cool the cookies on a wire rack. Store them in a tightly sealed plastic bag or Tupperware. Enjoy!