Hamantashen are triangular-shaped cookies usually eaten during Purim, the most festive Jewish celebration of the year.
Highly celebrated in Israel, Purim commemorates the saving of the Jews during the Persian Empire. Haman, counselor to Persian King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I), ordered the killing of all Jews, but Esther, wife of the king and a Jewish woman herself, begged for their salvation, foiling Haman’s plans. Instead of being killed, on the day after the orders were to be carried out, the Jews rejoiced and feasted, and Haman was later executed by hanging.
Today, Purim is celebrated by the exchange of food and drink, charitable donations, enjoying a special meal, prayers, and reciting the Scroll of Esther. In addition, many celebrate with drinking and wearing masks and costumes, making it a public celebration. Purim parties take place everywhere in Israel, from the more religious Jerusalem neighbourhoods, to the more secular Tel Aviv, which offers a carnival-type atmosphere. Either makes for an exciting time to visit!
Hamantashen can be customized with any desired sweet filling. Although poppy seed filling is the most traditional, any fruit preserve or dried fruit filling is equally as delicious, as is a chocolate-based filling such as Nutella.
Whether or not you’re Jewish or celebrate Purim, Hamantashen are a wonderful baked treat you must try… at any time of year, of course!
Serving: Approx. 36 cookies
- 1-1/2 cups butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 6 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 (12 oz) can poppyseed filling or 1 cup fruit preserve/jam*
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Slowly beat in the eggs – one at a time – and then stir in the orange juice and vanilla.
- Mix in the baking powder, and then gradually the flour, stirring until the dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease cookie sheets.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface, ensuring 1/8″ to 1/4″ thickness. (The thinner the dough, the better the cookie will maintain its structure.)
- Cut the dough using a 3″ diameter round cookie cutter (or drinking glass). Place circles on the prepared cookie sheets. Spoon 1 teaspoon maximum of filling onto the centre of each circle. Pinch the sides of each circle to form a triangle, covering as much of the filling as possible.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the oven until light golden brown.
- Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
*For best results, make sure your fruit filling isn’t too thin, as it may run. At the same time, your filling shouldn’t be too thick or the cookie will turn out dry and tough.