These triangular, filled sugar cookies are baked in Jewish households around the world to celebrate Purim, a holiday commemorating the Jewish people's survival, as told in the Book of Esther. 

Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

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Credit: Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

Recipe Summary

prep:
20 mins
chill:
3 hrs
bake:
10 mins
total:
3 hrs 30 mins
Yield:
5 dozen cookies
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These sweet treats were inspired by the evil leader Haman's three-cornered hat, a triangular symbol of hatred and anti-semitism that, circa the 16th Century, became a treat to indulge in while celebrating the downfall of the viscous villain. Others interpret the triangle to be Haman's ears, which were (back in Esther's day) traditionally amputated before an execution (Haman's fate). Others interpret the herstory differently, and believe the artistically shaped cookies actually celebrate Esther and her feminine powers as a heroine. 

Whatever the cookies represent, they are certainly delicious. Traditionally filled with poppyseeds (a Solo can is my grandma's preferred filling), contemporary hamantaschen can be stuffed with anything from apricot preserves to homemade jams or chocolate chips—or wherever your imagination leads you. They can be savory, sweet, or somewhere in between. 

Hamantashen invoke nostalgia, and many families have their own tweaks on the recipe to get it to their liking. Some like the cookie to be soft, while others like it crisp; some prefer a thin roll while others crave the cakey. Enter the Purim tradition of mishloach manot, when Jewish families share care packages with loved ones, often including hamantaschen, and no two are alike. Getting kids and friends involved in the cutting, folding, and baking of the dough is often the best part, and makes the rolling out of so many special cookies feel less tedious.

The below recipe originated at my Jewish preschool, evolved in my kosher dorm kitchen, and eventually found its way to my household in Brooklyn. The cookies are soft, thin, and have a bit of crunch, so you can eat at least a dozen at a time with your morning coffee. The recipe itself yields about five dozen hamantaschen, so there are plenty to share in quarantine care packages.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Cream butter and eggs using a stand mixer. Add vanilla, sugar, and orange juice until incorporated. Mix dry ingredients and slowly add them, one cup at a time, to the mixer. Use a spatula to help gather dough if needed. Once all ingredients have mixed for about 3 minutes, separate dough into 2 balls. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

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  • Position racks in the lower thirds of the oven. Preheat to 350° F. Remove 1 ball of dough from the fridge. Lightly dust flour over a clean surface. Separate the dough ball into thirds. Roll one third until about ⅛ inch thick, turning and flipping at 90 degrees every few rolls, to prevent dough from sticking and to keep the dough even. 

  • Use a juice glass to cut circles in the dough. Lift the excess dough off and flip the circles over. Add a blueberry-sized amount of filling to the center of a circle. If the dough has dried, run a wet finger or pastry brush with water around the perimeter. Then, fold one edge inwards, slightly covering the filling, fold the next edge slightly overlapping, and then the last, creating a triangle with overlapping sides. Press down to ensure dough sticks together. Some prefer to pinch the dough upwards, which works too!

  • Line uncooked hamantaschen on a baking sheet, not touching. Let cool in the fridge for 10 minutes. Bake 10-12 minutes in the lower part of the oven until the corners are golden brown. Move to a cooling rack, being careful not to spill the hot filling. The first batch offers an opportunity to adjust filling ratios—if filling spills out, use less. If cookies have a hollow center, try slightly more.

  • Repeat with remaining dough and fillings. Unrolled dough will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 days, as long as it is tightly wrapped. Unbaked hamantashen can also be frozen on a baking sheet then bagged (perfect for baking in the future or shipping frozen to loved ones).

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