I’m not much of a baker, but I do love a good cookie. And — as good as storebought cookies can be — there’s nothing quite like making cookies at home. The baking smells alone make it worth the effort.
This is especially true of hamantaschen. The Jewish cookie is massively important during Purim, which was held in March. But there’s really nothing stopping you from baking a batch anytime. While the cookie is more like a tart, or tartelette if you will, in modern terms it feels like a bridge between fancy Fig Newtons and a really good Pop-Tart (with, you know, real ingredients). The crust/cookie bit is soft yet crumbly with a nice dose of vanilla and citrus zest. Then the filling is the clincher, especially with a nice, dark jam. I like slightly spiced plum or fig personally, but more on that below.
For this recipe, I’m sticky fairly close to the recipe given by King Arthur Baking since, again, I’m no baker. I’m also not following any pareve laws as I’m not Jewish nor did I grow up in that culture. I’m just making tasty cookies that I like to eat, at home.
- 420g AP flour (plus extra for rolling)
- 170g unsalted butter, room temp.
- 150g white sugar
- 20g corn starch
- 8g baking powder
- 3g salt
- 10g orange zest
- 4g vanilla extract (or one vanilla bean, scraped)
- 2 large egg
- Jam of your choice
Since these are all very common ingredients that you can get at any grocery store, let’s talk filling. The most traditional/common is poppy seed and plum/prune jam with a hint of spice. I’m going for the latter, as that’s what I associate most with these. Also, I have pretty good plum jam on hand. I’m also doing a few with a smooth strawberry jam and an Italian fig compote to mix it up a bit (plus, that’s what’s open in my fridge at the moment).
If you want, you can go savory with chunky nut paste, pesto, tomato-onion jam, any chutney, mint jelly, and so forth. It’s really only limited by your own creativity.
What You’ll Need:
- Stand mixer with cake paddle (or bowl and wooden spoon)
- Fine mesh sieve
- Plastic wrap
- Rolling pin
- Cookie sheet
- Baking paper
- 3-inch round cookie cutter
- Food brush
- Spoon, fork, knife
- Cooling rack
- Combine flour, corn starch, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix with a fork to combine.
- In the mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar and mix until fully combined — creamed — and light in color. Add the vanilla, orange zest, one egg, and one egg white (save the yolk for later) and continue to mix everything until fully combined and smooth.
- Sieve the flour mix into the mixing bowl and continue to mix until a dough just forms. The dough should be light, smooth, pliable, and not sticky at all.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and separate it into two dough balls and then cover with plastic wrap. Place the dough balls into the fridge to rest for one hour.
- Preheat your oven to 375F with a rack right in the middle of the oven.
- After an hour, roll out one dough ball at a time on a heavily floured surface to about 1/4-inch thickness.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut 3-inch rounds. You should easily get 12 rounds per dough ball.
- Place the flat cookies on a paper-lined cookie sheet. Spoon about one tablespoon of the jam of your choice into the center of each round. (Too much jam and the edges will pop when it expands in the oven)
- Fold over the round edges to create a triangle shape while pinching the three points to seal the cookie.
- Lightly scramble the extra egg yolk with a tablespoon of water and brush the yolk around the edges of the cookie.
- Bake for ten to 12 minutes or until they start to just brown.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and place them on a cooling rack. Let cool for at least ten minutes to allow the jam to turn from molten lava to set and cool.
The first thing I thought when I bit into the fig hamantaschen was “this is the best Fig Newton I’ve ever had!” These were very solid. The strawberry was a little sweet for me — I don’t eat many sweets. But the smooth and lightly spiced plum jam was great.
It had a great contrast in color from the dark jam to the lightly browned cookie triangle. The mild winter spice and almost meaty plum were a good counterpoint to the vanilla and orange in the cookie. It was just really damn good. Plus, it held its shape when you bit into it. I’ve had these in the past and they crumble when you picked them up. No one wants that.
Lastly, this wasn’t nearly as labor-intensive as one might imagine. If you have a stand mixer, this doesn’t take more than an hour with all the dough-making, cutting, baking, and batches. Plus, you’ll have an hour of downtime in the middle to do something else. Just make sure you let these cool properly. That jam in the middle will burn your mouth if you get too excited and pop one of these in there right out of the oven.