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Hamantaschen with poppy seeds?

Amy asked:

My mother had a terrific recipe for hamantaschen that she made for many years while I was growing up. It was the cookie crust one, not the yeast-dough type. However, she took to experimenting with new recipes she found and ultimately we can’t find our favorite. Do you have one that will remind me of childhood? And while my mother used to fill them with prune or apricot jam, my family loves poppyseed filling. I have a bag of poppyseeds in my freezer waiting for instructions on how to turn them into something luscious.

Hi Amy, thanks for your question. My Jewish grandmas didn’t bake hamantaschen, though they were major cookie mavens. Here’s a recipe that has a cookie crust texture like the one you seek. I culled this during the time I was a pastry chef. I love it and hope this tastes like the favorite one you miss from childhood. It’s got the poppyseed filling too. The orange is optional. Enjoy.

Orange Hamantaschen
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
Very finely grated zest of half a medium orange

2 cups poppyseeds
1 cup water or milk
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 t. salt
2 eggs (optional)

1. Combine poppyseeds, liquid, honey, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring to prevent scorching. Let cool.

2. Add eggs, beating in thoroughly. If egg thins out filling too much, return to heat and stir while cooking 1 – 2 minutes

3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter and mix briefly. Or, if you are not using a stand-up mixer, add the butter by rubbing it into the flour, using your hands or a pastry cutter. In either case, you should mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

4. In a small bowl, beat together sugar, egg, egg white, and orange zest. Add egg mixture to the dough, and use a wooden spoon or beat using stand-up mixer on low speed only until the eggs are incorporated and the mixture begins to mass around the paddle, be careful not to overwork the dough. Press the dough into a ball, divide in half. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes or until cold but not hard and stiff.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or cover several baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

6. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out to about 1/4 inch thick between pieces of waxed paper, being careful not to let creases form in the bottom sheet of paper. Turn dough over, peel off bottom sheet of waxed paper and replace it loosely. Turn dough right side up and peel off and discard top sheet of paper. Cut dough into rounds using a 3 inch round cutter. Place a large teaspoonful of filling in the center of each round. Form each round into a pocket by folding over about a third of the edge over the filling. Fold another edge and pinch to form a point, then do the same with the last edge. Repeat until all hats are formed, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. If rounds become too soft to handle, fridge the dough until it is workable again. Gather dough scraps and fridge until firm enough to reroll.

7. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes, or until cookies are just tinged with brown. Keeps up to one week in an airtight container. Yields 30 cookies.
Variations: For prune filling: Combine 2 cups prunes, 1 1/3 cups orange juice, 2/3 cup honey, 1/8 t. cinnamon and the grated zest of half a medium orange in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil. Lower the heat slightly and simmer, stirring occasionally for 12 – 15 minutes, or until mixture is soft and most of the liquid is absorbed. Cool.

For apricot filling: Substitute apricots in the above recipe for prune filling.

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what is Hamantaschen?

    – Toronto Condos (May 18 2008 at 5:29)

From Nancy:
Thanks for your question. What is hamentashen? For those who do not celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim (kind of like a Jewish Halloween, I always joke, with costumes for the kids and treats for all) the filled pastry called hamentashen may be a mystery. Ask Laura and you’ll find that the hidden filling is where the real mystery resides. Like ravioli and other filled delicacies, she tells me, each one is like a little secret; what’s inside? The traditional tri-cornered shape of hamentashen mimics the tri-cornered hat worn by the villain Hamen in the Purim story, but hides a sweet filling inside, some say to symbolize Hamen’s queen, Esther, who hid her real identity as a Jew from Hamen, then revealed it in order to save her people from his wrath. Writer Eliezer Brodt traces the origins of hamentashen back to the sixteenth century when it appeared in a comedy by an Italian Jew and playwright. Early recipes feature poppyseed and honey fillings, though hamantashen’s secret pocket often holds surprises from apricots to chocolate to cheese.

    – Nancy (May 18 2008 at 9:05)

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