The Jewish holiday Purim commemorates the day Queen Esther saved the Jewish people from an evil plot to execute them by Haman, an advisor to Esther’s husband, the King of Persia. One of the traditional Purim treats to eat are these Hamantaschen, shaped to resemble Haman’s pockets (the direct translation, taschen, meaning pockets) or his triangular hat. This recipe comes from @leah.koenig’s amazing book The Jewish Cookbook, that I have been delving into with increasing delight. These cookies were so good! I made one batch with an apricot and poppyseed filling and one batch with Nutella, because I knew that otherwise I would be eating three dozen Hamantaschen all by myself. Well, as a rule I do share with the hubs 😁, but the kids do the lion’s share of cookie-eating in our house, and they’re more for chocolate than poppy seed. Which is a shame, because that apricot poppy seed filling was absolutely delicious! Start the dough early enough, as it needs to rest at least three hours or overnight, so they’ll be ready in time for Purim. Chag Purim Sameach! xoxo Donata
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
2 1/2 cups (350g) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (4 oz/115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Poppy Seed filling (see below), Nutella or other thick jam, for filling
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.
In a stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer and a large bowl), beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to fully combine.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three additions, beating on low after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until a firm but pliable dough comes together. If the dough looks too dry, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. If it looks too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Gather the dough and gently knead a few times, then form into a flat disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate for at least three hours (or overnight).
Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C/Gas Mark 4). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove half the dough from the fridge (keep the other half wrapped and chilled). On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1/4-inch (6 mm) thickness. Using a 3-inch (7,5 cm) round biscuit cutter or glass, cut out as many rounds as possible and carefully transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Gather the scraps, reroll, and cut out additional rounds.
Spoon 1 rounded teaspoon of the desired filling into the center of each dough round. Fold the left side over on a an angle, followed by the right side. Fold the bottom flap up, tucking one end under the side flap to make a pocket (the filling should still be visible in the center). Pinch the corners firmly to seal. Repeat with the remains dough and filling.
Bake the cookies until lightly golden and browned at the corners, 15-18 minutes (g&b note: mine only took 10 minutes until they were done, so keep an eye on the oven!). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Poppy Seed Filling
Makes about 1 1/2 cups (435 g)
1 cup (140 g) poppy seeds
1 cup (140 ml/8 fl oz) milk or almond milk
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/3 cup (60 g) finely chopped dried apricots
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (g&b note: I used about 2 tablespoons to counterbalance the sweetness)
1 tablespoon (15 g) unsalted butter or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Grind the poppy seeds in a spice or coffee grinder, working in batches if necessary, until powdery, 15-20 seconds. (g&b note: I didn’t grind the poppy seeds and it was fine.) In a small saucepan, combine the ground poppy seeds, milk, sugar and apricots and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and nearly all the liquid is absorbed, 7-10 minutes.
Stir in the orange juice, lemon zest, lemon juice, butter, and vanilla and continue cooking until absorbed and the mixture is very thick, 3-5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool completely. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Store, covered, in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Let the mixture come back to room temperature before using.