Friday, March 18, 2011


I love hamantaschen. Why do we only make them for Purim? Possibly, because they involve quite a bit of work until you get the hang of it. I volunteered to make a hundred for a Hadassah luncheon once. Took almost four hours. A single batch does not take nearly as long.

Hamantaschen are named after the three-cornered hat worn by the evil Haman in the book of Esther. Purim celebrates his defeat, and is the only Jewish holiday during which you are supposed to get drunk. Think of it as a Jewish Mardi Gras. It falls one month before Passover. The next day, you start a month-long cleaning spree to purge the house of chometz (leavening).

Some of the best hamantaschen I've had are from Hesh's Bakery in Philadelphia. Actually, everything they make is fantastic. If someone can recommend an excellent Jewish bakery in the L.A. area, please enlighten me.

I use the recipe off the can of Solo Lekvar filling. Except, I usually forget to buy an orange. I substitute 1/2 tsp orange juice or go get a lemon off the tree. This recipe produces a consistent, flaky cookie. For filling, there are hundreds of recipes out there. I use the canned Lekvar because a. I like prune hamantaschen, b. it is thick, and c. the recipe was designed for it. For this cookie, you need a very thick filling. I have tried regular canned pie fillings and preserves. They either run in the oven or overbake and develop a hard shell. Solo brand makes prune, apricot, and poppyseed fillings that are ideal consistencies for their hamantaschen recipe. Plus, the quantity in the can matches the amount of dough. Remember, any recipe you get off a package was created to help them sell the product.

2-3/4 C flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 C sugar
1 Tb baking powder
1 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 tsp salt
1 C butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tb milk
1 can Solo Prune/Plum (Lekvar) filling
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tb milk, for brushing

1. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, orange peel, and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add eggs and milk and mix until dough binds together. Knead dough in bowl several strokes until smooth. Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in waxed paper. Chill until slightly firm, about 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350º. Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out one piece of dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4" thick. Cut 3" rounds with a cutter and place on cookie sheets. Spoon 1 tsp of filling into center of each circle. Bring 3 edges together into the middle to form a triangle, leaving only a small opening of filling showing. Pinch edges upwards to make a ridge and sharp points. (They will melt down and soften while baking. If you don't make sharp points, the cookies come out round.) Continue to roll out and cut circles until all the dough is used. Remember, any dough will get tougher the more times you roll it out. Try to conserve space.

3. Brush with beaten egg and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks.

makes about 3 dozen

Difficulty rating  :)

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