Hamantashen are the perfect treat whether they are perfect-looking or not, but if you want something that's serve-worthy, these are the things you need to know.
Nosh nosh, a hamantash,
Let’s make a hamantash now….
Pat pat pat the dough with me,
Pat it flat and you will see,
Haman’s hat was just like that,
Let’s make a hamantash now!
Whenever Chodesh Adar rolls around, this old song plays over and over in my mind! It’s time for one of my favorite treats: the good, old Hamantash, with all of its delicious varieties….
Years ago, hamantashen usually meant one thing: a home-made, soft cookie dough outside with a lekvar (prune) filling within. Occasionally there were mohn filled (poppy seed filling) hamantashen as well, but that was basically the gist of it. Nowadays, there are so many different choices to consider, different textured and flavored doughs along with myriad filling ideas. I’d like to share some ideas with you, along with some tips on how to create the perfect hamantashen and fillings.
Let’s get started…..
The classic hamantash dough is usually a sweet cookie dough, which pinches and holds nicely, so that the filling won’t run while being baked. I’ve also seen flaky and yeast doughs being used, with either sweet, or savory fillings. These include ideas such as “cheese danish” hamantashen, sweet potato or broccoli-filled hamantashen, meat-filled, fruit or pie filling -filled hamantashen, and of course, fruit –filled or chocolate/nougat/cinnamon-filled hamantashen.
All ideas and combinations work – the main goal being that it is tri-cornered and has a filling. What is important to keep in mind is that some doughs will grow and pop open as they bake, where the final outcome is not the shape intended, nor is it necessarily still filled! Therefore, you must make sure to use techniques that will help the corners to stay closed to retain the triangular shape and filling within.
- When shaping the dough, use a thin edged glass or round cookie cutter. Remember that although the circles of dough that you cut may seem large, the result, once folded, will be half the size, so experiment by folding different- sized circles, to get the size hamantash you want. Dipping the cutter into flour between cuts will help the dough fall easily off the cutting edges. Make sure that the surface you are working on is lightly dusted with flour as well, so that the dough is easy to work with and remove.
- Roll dough between 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick and cut into circles with a cookie cutter or glass rim that is at least 3 inches wide.
- Place a teaspoon of whichever filling you choose 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.
- Cover unused circles with a lightly damp towel to prevent them from drying out while you are working.
There are great jam fillings available nowadays, that are sold as “leak-proof fillings.” Fruit, poppy seed, and cream cheese-based fillings tend to be easier to work with when they’re chilled in the refrigerator. The chilling process thickens the fillings and makes them less sticky, so they’re easier to handle when assembling your hamantaschen. Not all fillings are helped by refrigeration, however– particularly chocolate-based fillings, which will harden with prolonged refrigeration. Check your filling recipe to see if refrigeration is recommended.
- 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, creating a "pinwheel" effect. This method is not only pretty-- it helps keep the cookies from opening while they bake.
- Pinch each corner of the triangle gently but firmly to secure the shape.
Although not always necessary, brushing the prepared pastries with an egg wash before baking will enhance their appearance.
One more tip which can help your hamantashen keep its shape: freeze them prepared on the cookie sheets before baking. Increase the baking time by a bit and check for doneness.
Bake those beauties and enjoy!
To see kosher.com's hamantaschen recipes, click here!