Monday, March 24, 2008


Purim is a happy Jewish holiday. No somber fasting, no denial of breads, no mourning - just joy and jubilation. Purim (pronouned poo-rim) celebrates a time when Jews living in Persia were saved from extinction. There is a biblical story that tells the tale of the freedom and it's told throughout the Jewish world each year. It's called the Megillah which literally translated from Hebrew means story.

There is a villan in the Megillah - his name is Haman. He was an evil advisor to the king who was on a mission to destroy the Jews. So the theme starts Hamen - the first part of hamentaschen and "taschen" a German word for purse. Hamentashen are, therefore, a three cornered cookie (representing the three corners of Hamen's hat) with a filling on the inside of the purse.

The tradition of making hamentaschen each year is a fun one. Not only are these cookies delicious, they also become a part of a tradition of giving gifts of charity which are called shalach manot (literally translated means to send gifts).

In larger families, in the midst of all the fun, there are also challenges. For the person who can't have wheat, we use spelt flour, for the people with allergies we change the fillings around, and for people who simple don't like one filling or another, we create a multitude of different fillings and everybody is happy.

If I'm looking for a sure fire recipe for anything Jewish, I always refer to one of Noreen Gilletz's cookbooks

For the Dough:

1 medium seedless orange (quartered but don't peel)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp baking powder
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour


1. In food processor, process the quartered orange until really fine but not mush
2. Add eggs, sugar and oil and process for about 10 seconds
3. Add flour and baking powder and pulse just until blended - don't overprocess
4. Empty from processor bowl to a lightly floured surface.
5. Divide into quarters to roll out - much easier to work with
6. Roll to 1/4" thickness. Depending on the size of cookies you'd like to create, cut circles with either a glass or bisquit cutter.

This dough freezes well and will also stay in the fridge wrapped in parchment paper for a couple of days.


There are so many different choices for fillings. I happen to like poppyseed - I think I may be the only one in my family who does.

Poppyseed Filling

1 cup poppyseeds
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp liquid honey
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp raisins
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter


1. Simmer poppyseeds in milk stirring often until milk is nearly completely absorbed. This step will ensure that the poppyseeds lose most of their crunch.
2. Add honey, sugar, raisins and simmer for another 5-10 minutes
3. Add lemon zest and butter, stir until butter is melted.

Prune Filling:

1 medium orange
12 oz. pkg pitted prunes
1 1/2 cup raisins

In processor - process half of the ingredients at a time emptying bowl in between.

Other suggested fillings:

Apricot, cherry, date, nutella - it's all good

To assemble the hamentaschen

1. Roll out dough to approximately 1/4 inch
2. Cut circles as close together as possible so as not to have to overwork the dough more than necessary

3. Put 1 tablespoon of filling in centre of circle

4. Bring sides up and together pinching together to form a triangle shape. The cookie doesn't have to be completely closed, but the dough should hold together. It's nice to be able to see the filling - especially if you make several different fillings.

I'm not entirely sure what I did to the first batch but this is what happens when your dough doesn't hold together well.

5. Place cookies on greased or sprayed cookie sheet or on silpat
6. Brush with a combination of an egg yolk plus 2 tblsp of water (not entirely necessary but gives it a nicer sheen)

7. Bake in 350 F oven for 25 - 30 minutes

Share with friends and family. Everybody makes a different dough recipe and the variations are numerous. We did three different types of dough in our home and this one is the favourite by far - at least my favourite by far.

Since we used a microplane in this recipe, we'll be submitting this post to a tasty tool event hosted by Joelen's Culinary Adventures. StumbleUpon


Peter M said...

Oh yes, I'm lovin' the poppyseed filling.

I wish someone would come up with a good Jewish cookbook, beyond briskey and gefeltefish!

That Girl said...

You make them just like my family! But my mom's the only one who eat the prune ones, the rest of us use fruity preserves.

And I don't know if this tip works, because I stumbled upon it this year and didn't get a chance to test it yet, but I read that one of the ways to keep the cookies from opening in the oven is the fold in the two sides, and then fold the bottom up so that one end goes under one side and over the other side........(does that make any sense the way I wrote it?)

test it comm said...

I have never had Hamentaschen before. The poppy filling sounds really tasty. Nice step by step photos!

giz said...

Peter - Norene Gilletz has several good Jewish cookbooks - each one of them is great.
Kate - your description made sense by the second time I read it - I need to try that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing my recipe for hamentaschen from my food processor cookbook - I'm glad you enjoyed them. The pictures are picture perfect!

A reason they might open is if the dough is a bit too dry so they aren't sealed properly when you pinch them together.

For some yummy, easy recipes for Purim, visit my website at You can also find my Jewish cookbooks there and see some sample recipes from each of them. I have much more than brisket and gefilte fish in my books, believe me!

Thanks again. I'll be back!

Norene Gilletz, Cookbook Author

Anonymous said...

Those look so delicious! I've never seen that befor, but it's a lot like fatayer. I love it!

eatme_delicious said...

Those look good! If a little finicky. I've never had hamentaschen before but have now seen them twice on blogs in the last couple of hours. :)

Emily said...

Holy cow! Norene Gilletz left a comment on your blog.

I've never heard of these, so I've learned something today.
Jewish cookery is so interesting. I think, anyway.

Pixie said...

First, thanks to you for sharing this recipe, I'd love to try it at some point!

And how wonderful that the author took the time to comment on your blog!

giz said...

Norene is a pretty "cool dude" - I have nearly all of her cookbooks and have raised my kids on them. It's nice to know that she's keeping on top of what happens in the blogging world.

Anonymous said...

I have so got to settle my hamentaschen dilemma. My ex-husband's grandmother used to make them (with prunes and little bit of raspberry preserve) and I just adored them. Trouble is... when I asked for the recipe all I got was the following: "You make a nice cookie dough... and you fill it with prunes and some raspberry jam. Don't bake it too long or it will dry out."

And I have not yet found a recipe that tastes the way I remember her did!

I'll be trying your, though. Maybe I'll get lucky!

Ben said...

Those are perfect to snack while listening to old stories. I like holidays where the whole point is just being happy. Those are my kind of holidays.

Randi said...

hamentaschen - you brought back the best memories of making them with my mom as a kid for purim. we always made the apricot ones.. and sometimes raspberry. you've totally inspired me. i must make these now. i tend to use a recipe that makes the cookie a little less dense than the ones my my and i made (or just rolls the dough out thinner, i guess). happy purim, on to passover. i already made a matza pizza as a snack the other night :)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

These sound like a good tradition to have:D

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Looks great! Like puffy delicious triangles : )

Cakelaw said...

These look so good - I love the sound of the prune and orange filling.

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