Is there ever an age when one no longer gets excited about candy sprinkles? Because if there is, I never want to be that age. Sprinkles still bring me so much joy, and I love using them playfully in all kinds of baked goods. I went through a phase a few years ago where I was trying “confetti” versions of everything I could, including hamantashen. But the first time I tried them, they were kind of a mess– clumsy-looking because the dough lost its precise edges during baking and the intact sprinkles looked like big spotches of color. I don’t even remember what dough recipe or filling I used, maybe chocolate?
The following year was a turning point; the magical almond shortbread from Breaking Breads revolutionized my hamantashen game. Once I started playing with flavor variations, I knew a sprinkle version would need to happen. One modification that I made was to crush down the sprinkles into small bits. I liked the appearance of this better than the whole sprinkles, plus the smaller pieces integrated better into the dough. For the filling, I decided on vanilla cheesecake, but it puffed up in the oven and then sank way down into the cookies after they cooled, so even this batch was pretty unsightly (though tasty). At least the dough part was successful, but I would have to re-work the filling. I didn’t have a chance to try them again last year, so I knew this flavor would definitely be included in “10 Days of Hamantashen”.
In looking at my cheesecake ingredients, I had used only cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla at first. I guessed that adding egg and a touch of flour might help prevent the cheesecake from sinking… which it did! The filling did crack a bit, as cheesecake is wont to do, but it mostly stayed put, and even more importantly, it was super tasty with the sprinkle-laced dough. I am very pleased with how these turned out– they are one of my favorites in this series.
Start here for the beginning of “10 Days of Hamantashen”!
Confetti Cheesecake Hamantashen
Adapted from Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft
Yields 30-40 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):
- 75g grams (6 tablespoons) colored sprinkles
- 400 grams (3 cups + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- 50 grams (½ cup) 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
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
For the cheesecake filling:
- 8 ounces (1 brick) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 50 grams (¼ cup) granulated sugar
- ½ tablespoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
To make the almond shortbread dough:
Line a rimmed quarter- or half-sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.
Pour the sprinkles into a resealable plastic bag. Smash them with a rolling pin or meat mallet until you have a variety of textures– colored dust and some larger pieces.
Whisk together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, salt, and the crushed sprinkles 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 make the filling:
Beat the cream cheese, butter, and sugar until smooth in a medium bowl using an electric mixer. Add the vanilla and egg yolk and mix until fully blended. Fold in the flour with a rubber spatula.
To assemble & bake the hamantaschen:
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 to a thickness of about ⅛”, 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, cut off pieces of dough as needed with a sharp knife or bench scraper.
Cut out circles with a 3″ round cutter and transfer them to the prepared cookie sheet. Try to cut them out as closely as possible to avoid having a lot of scraps. Re-roll the scraps and repeat until you’ve filled the cookie sheet. If the dough has warmed up and softened too much, place the pan in the freezer for 5 minutes to chill the dough circles. (You can put any warm dough scraps in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up.)
Dollop about 1 teaspoon cheesecake in the center of each circle; a spring-loaded melon-baller yields a perfectly-sized portion when filled with a rounded scoop. Do not be tempted to put in more filling– it will cause the cookies to open up in the oven.
To create the hamantaschen triangle shape, use your fingers to curve up the edges of each circle to meet at three points. Gently press the corners together to seal the edges together, leaving the top open for the filling to peek out. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. If the cookies are very soft, put the pan in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Bake the hamantaschen for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan 180° and bake for another 6-8 minutes until the corners are golden. Set the pan on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Store the cookies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or so.
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2020.