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How to Make Hamantaschen

nutella, strawberry, and peach hamantaschen for Purim

Piecrust is not my only nemesis. For years, hamantaschen—the traditional three-cornered cookies baked for Purim (aka “Jewish Halloween”)—have been a source of tsuris. But this year, my friends, I have good news: My hamantaschen rocked. Naches, baby, naches.

For the dough, I used this recipe by Marcy Goldman, from an article by Faye Levy. As soon as I saw those two names attached to “hamantaschen,” I knew it would be a winner: Between them, they’ve written approximately half the Jewish cookbooks in my library (the other half being the works of Joan Nathan).

Because the assembly and baking of hamantaschen is a bit of a potchke, I kept the filling part simple: strawberry and peach jams, and Nutella.

I won’t reproduce the recipe here since I didn’t change it until the actual baking part, but here’s what I did to (finally, finally, finally) ensure success:

  • Use about 1/3 of the dough at a time, keeping the rest refrigerated. Let each chunk of dough sit at room temp for about 15 minutes before rolling.
  • Move the dough around frequently while you’re rolling—once it begins to soften it tears easily.
  • I re-rolled this dough once, and sometimes twice, with no significant difference in results.
  • If you’re using jam, be sure to use a very thick one, and no more than about half a teaspoon, or it’ll bubble over and run all over the cookie sheet.
  • Don’t just pinch the corners—fold the flaps of dough over themselves and press together gently. This keeps them from opening up during baking.
  • Bake one sheet at a time (sorry, I hate that too), in the top third of your oven.
  • And this is very important: Double your baking sheet one inside the other, or the bottoms will begin to burn before the tops are nicely browned.
  • I skipped the second refrigeration in the recipe. First, there’s not enough room in my fridge for baking sheets, and second I’m too impatient. Baking them one sheet at a time is taxing enough!
  • Possibly because my cookies went into the oven at room temperature, they only took about 10 minutes to bake, rather than the 14 mentioned in the instructions. Keep an eye on your cookies as they bake to figure out your own oven’s timing.

Chag sameach, everyone! Harry’s dressing as a spy, his current obsession, for our local Purim party. (He’ll be wearing the same costume to school on Friday for Career Day, since he plans to be a spy when he grows up.)

So, did I miss any hamantaschen-baking secrets? What are your best tips?

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. sheri

    Oy! I’ve struggled with (and blogged about!) my trials with hamantaschen as well! An egg wash and 10 minute freeze have helped me too! Already did my “batch” for this year but will try yours next time! 🙂

    1. Debbie Koenig

      I thought about an egg wash, Sheri, but by then I was already so tired of the darn things I couldn’t be bothered. If there’s a lazy-person’s hamantaschen recipe, I really need it. So you freeze each tray between forming & baking? I like the idea but I don’t have room in my freezer.

  2. Carrietracy

    My current hamantaschen policy is to mooch them off someone else who has baked them! Not at all effective as baking method, but works great for the eating part.

    1. Debbie Koenig

      I think that’s very wise, Carrietracy. Harry and I brought most of ours into school, so his classmates could all taste them. I think some were scared off though, since Harry insisted on calling them “Jewish cookies.”

  3. Rachel

    I stole my mother’s recipe and her secret ingredient is orange juice in the dough. It makes it sweet and delicious but unless I’m out of town, I visit her and eat some of hers!

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Rachel, the recipe I linked to has orange zest & juice in it–SO GOOD.

  4. England

    Thanks for this kamantaschen recipe. They sound wonderful.

  5. Snooks from California

    I haven’t tried them yet but I sent the recipe to my caregiver and we will be making them very soon. The idea of the orange juice in the dough sounds good.

    California March 23, 2012.

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