Hamantaschen! Oh man, it seriously took me a week to learn how to say and spell the name of these cookies correctly. The first time I told my roommate I was going to make hamantaschen, it came out something like "hama-stor-stat-tatch-tashen." To which her bewildered response was a..."wha? Are you trying to speak German?!"
Anyways, regardless of difficulty for me to wrap my apparently failing linguistic skills around, these cookies are delicious nonetheless. And they are related in part to a German word, so I wasn't so far off, right? Right?
The first I'd ever heard of these little triangular cookies was from my friend Starr, who started telling me about them at the beginning of last week. Then, once I knew about them, I couldn't stop seeing them everywhere--they were in the coffee shop I went to to do work, they were in the supermarkets, they were all over the internets--even though I had never noticed them before. Does anyone else ever do that, like notice how many other people seem to have your car? So when Starr mentioned that she wanted to try her hand at making hamantaschen, I jumped at the chance to try them out.
It turns out that the cookies are pretty awesome and simple, a shortcrust pastry-like cookie on the outside with different sorts of jam or paste fillings inside. Poppyseed and prune are two traditional flavors, I think, as is apricot, but, like any sort of filling-cookie combo, I couldn't help but get really excited to see what else I could stuff inside the cookies instead. Starr and I ended up making four different flavors of hamantaschen, but these were the two that we liked the best: a more traditional dried apricot quick jam filling and a more non-traditional blackberry preserve and marzipan filling. The apricot jam was deliciously tart, made from dried California apricots that are supposedly tart-er than their Turkish counterparts, and packed with juicy, fruity flavor, and the tartness was the perfect accent against the sweet crust of the cookies. In the blackberry-marzipan hamantaschen, the almond paste melded beautifully with the pastry outsides for a rich, nutty center top with seedy berry preserves. Starr mentioned that these looked reminiscent of the prune-flavored hamantaschen, but in my opinion, I'll take marzipan and blackberry over prune any day. :-)
On that note, Happy belated Purim to everyone! Make sure to grab a hamantaschen on your way to the recipe....
(and yes, I'm still working on pronouncing "Purim" correctly, too.)
(P.S. In case you were wondering, the other two flavors we tried were poppyseed and mascarpone-fig.)
[Edit: Upon eating these, Starr's husband, Alan, broke out into spontaneous song. To the tune of Frere Jacques:
I eat you, I eat you
You are very tasty, you are very tasty
nom nom nom, nom nom nom
Thanks, Alan! :-)]
Read on for recipe...
(P.P.S. for some reason, I kept shaping my hamantaschen into pinched triangles reminiscent of Star Trek insignia. Hm. well, I guess once a Trekker, always a Trekker....)
Apricot and Blackberry-Marzipan Hamantaschen
recipe for cookie dough adapted from the NYTimes
makes ~30 hamantaschen total (~15 of each flavor)
1 cup powdered sugar
385 gr (2 1/4 cups) AP flour
dash of salt
2 egg yolks
8 oz butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
zest of 1 lemon, freshly grated
1 large egg, beaten
1. Combine the powdered sugar, flour, salt, egg yolks, butter, and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a dough begins to form.
2. Remove the dough from the food processor and wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
3. In the meantime, prepare the fillings--recipes included below.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cookie sheets lined with silpats or parchment paper.
5. Lightly sprinkle your workspace with powdered sugar or flour. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter (~2.5 - 3 inches in diameter), cut out rounds.
6. For apricot hamantaschen, spoon about a teaspoon of filling into the center of each cookie. For blackberry-marzipan hamantaschen, place about a teaspoon of almond paste in the center of each cookie round and top with a small amount of blackberry preserves.
7. Fold the edged of the cookie rounds up and pinch the corners together. Place the cookies on the prepared lined cookie sheets. Brush the outsides of the cookies with the beaten egg.
8. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden.
9. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Note: Despite tasting really good, this is perhaps one of the most temperamental doughs I've worked with. It likes to be rolled out cold (otherwise sticks to everything, even parchment paper) but folded into cookie form when it's a little closer to room temperature.
Note: Don't roll the dough out thinner than 1/4 of an inch, either, which will make it difficult to work with.
for dried apricot quick jam filling:
1/4 lbs dried (California) apricots (~7 gr)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
sprinkle of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1. Combine the dried apricots, water, and sugar in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
2. Over medium-low heat, cook covered for about 15 minutes.
3. Remove the lid and continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes more, until the liquid has reduced.
4. Pour the contents of the saucepan into a food processor. Add a small sprinkling of lemon juice. Pulse until the apricots are roughly chopped but do not process until smooth.
5. Let cool before filling cookies.
for blackberry-marzipan filling: