Hamantashen are tender, triangular, fruit filled “symbolic” pastry that is traditionally served on the Jewish festival of Purim. The shape is said to replicate the three-corner hat that a Jewish oppressor, named Haman, wore. Eating these pastries is supposed to symbolize overcoming the struggle for survival. Having said this, I can assure you than anyone of any culture will adore these pastries and at any time of the year! And, since the dough and the fillings can both be made and frozen—you can enjoy freshly baked hamantashen any time you want!
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, for the dough, plus more for rolling out the pastry
- ¾ teaspoon fine table salt
- ½ cup superfine granulated sugar
- ½ cup finely minced nuts (walnuts, toasted almonds and/or toasted macadamias)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- ¼ cup water
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar, as needed, when cutting the pastry dough
- Fruit fillings: Prune and Apricot (see the end of this recipe)
- For the egg-wash: 1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water and ½ teaspoon vanilla
- For the nut topping: ½ cup finely chopped nuts, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1) To assemble the pastry dough: Whirl the flour, salt and sugar in food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Add the chopped nuts and process to combine. Add the egg to ¼ cup water in a cup with a spout and stir with a fork to break up the egg. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir. Pulse the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the butter cubes are no larger than the size of small peas. Add enough of the egg/ice water mixture in increments until the dough is moist, but not overly wet and it holds together when pinched between two fingers.
2) To friage the dough: Turn the mixture out of the machine and, using the heal of your working hand, schmear the dough outward—in 1 inch increments, on your work surface (going away from you). Gather the dough using a pastry scraper and do this again. Gather dough, enclose in plastic wrap, flatten into a disk and chill well.
3) To roll and cut the pastry: Roll dough between sheets of floured wax paper. When the dough is 1/4 inch thick, remove the top sheet of paper and brush any excess flour off from both sides of the dough. Using a 2 ½ to 3-inch cookie cutter (fluted) –cut out circles of dough. Dip the cutter into powdered sugar to keep it from sticking. For larger pastries, use a. 4 to 6 inch cutter). Line a large baking sheet with wax paper. Place the cut circles of dough onto the sheet (layer between sheets of wax paper Cover with plastic and chill until the dough firms up, 10 to 30 minutes.
4) To fill the pastries: Place a spoonful of fruit filling in the center of each pastry round. Pull up the edges and pinch, creating triangles. Cover the sheet with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour (or overnight). Fill each circle, square off and pinch edges. Place on tray, cover and chill. ]
5) To set up to bake: Preheat the oven to 375F. Line cushioned cookie sheets with parchment. Make the egg wash by mixing the egg with the water and vanilla. Strain this into another bowl. Brush chilled pastries with egg wash (surrounding the fruit filling) and sprinkle the top pastry generously with the nut allowing the filling to be exposed. Bake for 15 minutes (or until golden). Bake 20 minutes for larger pastries. Cool on wire racks.
Prune and Apricot Butter (for Rugelach and Hamantaschen)
Dried fruit butters are thick and rich and not only make a perfect filling for some of the pastries that you’ll find in the dessert chapter but they also taste great, simply spread on toast or biscuits, lavished over a layer of cream cheese
Yield: Yield: about 2 1/4 cups
- 3 cups (packed) best quality dried pitted prunes
- Water to cover
- 1 tablespoon strained fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
To assemble the prune butter, place the prunes in a 2 1/2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan with enough cold water to cover them and bring the water to a brisk bubble. Turn the heat down to low and simmer the prunes gently (uncovered) until soft, about 10 minutes (timing will depend largely on their original suppleness). Drain the prunes, reserving 1 tablespoon of the poaching liquid and place the fruit with the lemon juice, poaching liquid and sugar into the bowl of your food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth, then use a rubber spatula to transfer the puree to a bowl and stir in the ground walnuts. Let the prune butter cool before storing in the refrigerator, in a well-sealed tub, for up to 3 weeks before using.
Yield: about 1 1/2 to 2 cups
- 2 cups best quality dried whole pitted apricots
- Water to cover
- 1/4 cup (firmly packed) light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Amaretto (almond flavored liquor), or use lemon juice as a substitute
- 1/4 cup finely chopped toasted blanched (skinned) almonds
To assemble the apricot butter, place the apricots in a 2 1/2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan with enough cold water to cover them and bring the water to a brisk bubble. Reduce the heat to low and simmer apricots gently (uncovered) until soft, 10 to 15 minutes (timing will depend largely on their original suppleness). Drain the apricots and place them into the bowl of the food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Add the brown sugar and the amaretto or lemon juice and process until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to transfer the puree to a bowl and stir in the ground toasted almonds. Let the apricot butter cool before storing in the refrigerator, in a well-sealed tub, for up to 3 weeks before using.