My whole life, I’ve more or less been a creature of habit when it comes to hamantashen. I grew up eating apricot-filled ones, which I will happily gobble up to this day, but poppyseed… nope, no thank you, blech. Also, if you throw in a chocolate-filled one, I’m definitely in, no questions asked. Other jams, I can take or leave. *yawn* Unfortunately, I haven’t spent all that much time in my life contemplating hamantashen flavors until the past few Purim seasons. Until then, hamantashen fell into the pastry category of “sure-I’ll-eat-some-but-I’m-fairly-ambivalent”. I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about Chanukah Cookies here. I didn’t realize that I could have been dreaming up all kinds of filling and dough combinations all these years; but now that I’ve been enlightened to the wide, wonderful world of hamantashen options, I can’t contain my joy! In addition to hamantashen flowing through my social media feeds like red wine, now I can’t help the thoughts of this-and-that combination flitting into my brain– I’ll never have enough time to make them all!
But hey, I have to start somewhere, and I will dutifully undertake this mission for the greater good of society. For years I searched high and low for the perfect dough, and last year I finally (finally!) struck gold. The recipe in Uri Scheft’s Breaking Breads is absolutely, unquestionably, unequivocally the best hamantashen dough in existence. It is easy to work with, tastes great, holds it shape in the oven, and as I’m finding out, it is infinitely customizable. I tried the recipe for Chocolate Chip & Vanilla Cream Hamantashen as written, which are maybe my favorite ones that I’ve made, and then I realized that pretty much any filling could work with this dough. In my explorations, I came across a genius human who made hamantashen in the style of tiny pop tarts, and I knew they had to be mine. So I made Pop Tart Hamantashen, but I used the dough from Breads— and the whole endeavor was glorious.
The dough comes together more or less like a simple sugar cookie dough, although you get to smash the butter before it goes in the mixer, which just feels really good at the end of a long work day. 😉 Whereas you usually cut circles out of the dough and fold up the edges to form the triangles, to make these, you cut actual triangles, and you’ll press together two of them around a jam filling, then crimp the edges, not unlike making hand pies, or you know, pop tarts. If you have a bicycle cutter like the one pictured below, it’s the easiest way to cut uniform triangles; if not, your ruler is your BFF. I bought that thing for all the croissants I was going to make at home after taking a 3-day laminated pastry class a couple of years ago. To date, I’ve made precisely zero croissants, but I’m thrilled to have found a most excellent use for this random baking tool! Anyway, I think this is one of the cutest hamantashen ideas that I’ve seen, and I hope you enjoy them too!
Pop Tart Hamantashen
Adapted idea from Kosher in the Kitch
Yields 20-30 cookies
This recipe doubles very well if you want to avoid splitting beaten eggs and/or have lots of dough for multiple fillings. I strongly recommend using weight rather than volume to measure ingredients.
For the almond shortbread (adapted from Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft):
- 400 grams (3 cups + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- 50 (½ cup) grams blanched almond flour
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 225 grams (2 sticks/1 cup/8 ounces) cold unsalted butter
- 100 grams (scant 1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
- 50 grams (¼ cup) granulated sugar
- 1½ large eggs, beaten, at room temperature
For the assembly & filling:
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup fruit jam of your choice (I recommend something bright and pretty)
For the glaze & topping:
- ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Colored nonpareil candies or sprinkles of your choice, for garnish
To make the almond shortbread dough:
Line a rimmed quarter- or half-sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.
Whisk together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, and salt in a bowl and keep it nearby.
Lay a piece of parchment paper on your work surface and place 1 stick of butter on top. Smash the butter with a rolling pin several times to soften it, then transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Repeat with the remaining stick of butter.
Add the confectioners’ sugar and granulated sugar to the bowl. Mix on low just until the loose sugar is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and the beater, and mix again for about 30 seconds on medium-low speed. You want the butter to still be cold, and you’re mixing minimally here to avoid aerating the butter.
Pour in the beaten eggs and paddle on low speed until the mixture looks like wet scrambled eggs– the butter chunks should all be coated in egg liberally.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl (gradually if making a double batch) and mix on low speed until most of the flour has been incorporated; it’s helpful to stop and scrape down the bowl and beater midway through.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and finish bringing it together by hand or with a flexible bench scraper. Roll it out to about ½” thick and transfer it to the prepared half-sheet pan. (It will not fill the pan.) Cover it tightly with a piece of plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (or until firm), or overnight.
To assemble & bake the hamantashen:
When you’re ready to roll and cut the dough, preheat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the center position. Line a rimless cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it soften for 5-10 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out a little less than ⅛” (a little thinner than regular hamantashen), flouring and moving the dough around as needed to avoid sticking to the work surface and rolling pin. (I didn’t find it to be exceptionally sticky to begin with.) If making a double-batch, lop off pieces of dough as needed with a sharp knife or bench scraper.
Cut triangles with sides about 3″ long and transfer half of them to the prepared cookie sheet. You can use a pastry bicycle cutter or a sharp knife; it is important for them to be a uniform size. When cutting triangles, there will be almost zero dough waste and a lot less re-rolling of scraps. Re-roll and cut whatever scraps you do have and continue to fill the pan. If the dough has warmed up and softened too much to work with easily, place the pan in the freezer for 5 minutes to chill. (You can put any warm dough scraps in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up.)
Brush eggwash around the edges of the triangles. Dollop about ½ teaspoon fruit jam in the center of each triangle; a spring-loaded melon-baller or ice cream scoop yields a perfectly-sized portion. Do not be tempted to put in more filling– the cookies may open or burst through the dough in the oven.
Match up each jam-topped bottom with a second triangle. Gently press the edges of the top and bottom triangles together to seal the hamantashen completely on all sides. Place them on the prepared baking sheet spaced about 2″ apart. If the cookies are very soft, put the pan in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Bake the hamantashen for about 15-16 minutes, or until the corners are lightly golden, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Set the pan on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl that’s wide enough to dip the triangles into. Flip over a cookie and dip just the raised center in the glaze, letting the excess drip off. Sprinkle the wet glaze with nonpareils or sprinkles and let the glaze dry, about 1 hour.
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2-3 days.
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2018.