This cookie probably originated in central Europe. However it has become a traditional Jewish cookie baked for the feast of Purim which celebrates the defeat of Haman, a Persian king who threatened to kill all Jews. The story goes that Haman always wore a triangular hat (although another story tells that he had triangular shaped ears and yet another that he had triangular pockets). That is why all sorts of foods are triangular-shaped for Purim. Roll out the dough for hamantaschen nice and thin to make light, crunchy cookies. The dough is strong enough to hold the filling together. The way the dough is folded together also helps to keep it from opening up during baking. Hamantaschen can be stuffed with all sorts of fillings, but poppy seed is the most traditional. I really like the grown up taste of poppy seeds – even if they are a pain to grind – but if you like a sweeter taste, fill them with compote or jam. Or you could always wait until next week to taste my own version of this cookie with a sweet walnut and pear filling.
Hamantasch cookie from Israel
For 18 cookies
for the dough
90 gram (⅓ cup + 1 tbsp) soft unsalted butter
70 gram (⅓ cup) sugar
½ egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
grated rind of ½ lemon
175 g (1⅛ cups) flour
pinch of salt
for the filling
125 g (½ cup) poppy seeds
125 milliliters (½ cup) milk
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons raisins
grated rind of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon butter
In a bowl beat the butter and sugar light and creamy with a mixer in about 5 mins.
Add the egg, vanilla and lemon rind and beat well.
Mix in the flour and salt.
Bring together into a nice ball of dough. Add some water if the dough is too crumbly.
Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 1 hour, but preferably overnight.
In the meantime make the filling. Grind the poppy seeds with a mortar and pestle or in a coffee or spice grinder.
Place in a pan with the milk, the honey and the rasins and cook on low heat for about 15 mins. until the mixture is thick and sticky.
Take from the heat and mix in the lemon and butter. Leave to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F. Between 2 sheets of baking paper roll out the dough into a thin sheet of about ⅓ cm / ⅛ inch. Cut out circles of about ø 8 cm / 3 inch with a cookie cutter or a glass. Bring the dough together, roll out again and cut out more circles. Repeat until all the dough is finished.
Place 1 scant teaspoon of filling in the middle of each circle.
Fold 1/3 of the dough on left side over the filling leaving ⅓ open. Fold ⅓ of the dough on the right side over the filling in the same way and form a triangle. Some filling should still peep out. Now fold in the bottom and tuck the right corner under. All 3 sides should have 1 corner tucked in now. Pinch together the dough in the corners.
Brush with milk and bake the hammantaschen in the middle of the oven on a cookie sheet covered with baking paper for 20-25 mins. until light brown and done. Take out of the oven and leave to cool on the cookie sheet.
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