Holidays create stress (at least for me), but they also create the perfect excuse to revisit your favorite festive foods. This past week we celebrated Purim, the Jewish holiday where we hear the Book of Esther. For some reason, Purim maintains a lesser status on the Jewish calendar, but you would never know this by the number of people who celebrate. Who doesn't love a holiday with costumes, festivals, drinking, and food? Each year I fully intend on breaking out my baking skills, but often lose track of time, so this year I was determined to do Purim right and make some hamantaschen cookies.
Like many holiday recipes, hamantaschen only make an appearance once a year, but I'm becoming a strong advocate for their year-round production. Traditionally, these cookies are filled with things like dates, prunes, apricots, and other fruit preserves (probably why I hated them as a kid). Luckily, this trend has changed in recent years as very creative people (not me) have invented new and delicious takes on the classic; you really can't mess these up.
I originally planned on making a few different varieties, but reality set in with a busy schedule, so I settled for one - these Milk and Cereal Hamantaschen from My Jewish Learning. Who doesn't love cereal?!
A few notes and changes, as usual. I used a different cookie recipe for mine, but as mentioned above, you can't mess these up, so mix and match as much as you would like. I also wanted to try a second cereal, as I find Fruitty Pebbles a little too sweet. I decided on Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which I highly recommend.
Oh yes, and did I mention my parents were in town? Not only did I finally get around to baking hamantaschen, but my mom was right next to me helping.
Okay, on to the baking!
I made my dough a few nights before in anticipation of a packed Saturday. I used our synagogue's cookie base recipe because I knew it could be whipped together quickly. The cookie part of any hamantaschen is a basic pastry dough, this particular one on the less sweet side.
This dough lasted for two days just fine in the refrigerator. I added a little cinnamon into the dough to really make sure it complemented the fillings.
Next part, the fillings. If you are looking for some other creative ideas, Pinterest is a great place to search. I will admit I got overly excited with this activity and forgot to take step-by-step pictures of making the filling, but it could not have been easier. First combine equal parts cereal and milk and let sit for a few minutes to soften. This recipe calls for 1/4 cup each, but it could easily be scaled up or down. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients: sugar, room temperature cream cheese, vanilla, and salt. That's it!
Set your filling aside and roll out the dough. Make sure to flour both your surface and rolling pin, and add extra to the dough itself if it's too sticky. If you have a cookie cutter, use it, but in my case the top of a water glass worked well to cut out perfectly sized rounds.
Now you are ready for the fun part; filling the dough. Filled pastry dough isn't anything new, but what makes hamantaschen special are their shape. Each cookie is pinched into a triangle, resembling the three-cornered hat worn by the villain, Haman, in the Book of Esther. The key to any hamantaschen is perfecting the cookie to filling ratio. Too little filling and you end up with a boring cookie; too much filling and your cookie will spill over in the oven. I wish a magic ratio existed, but alas, it just comes down to trial and error.
Your hamantaschen are now ready for the oven! I rotated my cookie sheets halfway through the baking time because I know my oven has some uneven spots.
After the cookies cooled, I bagged them up to hand out to friends later in the evening, but never fear, I taste tested a few for myself and can attest to their awesomeness. Seriously, you have to give these a try. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch version was my favorite; a little less sweet than Fruitty Pebbles, and paired perfectly with the added cinnamon in the dough.
For those who do not celebrate Purim, or even for those of us looking for an excuse to make hamantaschen year-round, these are a great addition to your next afternoon tea party, coffee break, Friendsgiving (I can smell the pumpkin filling already), etc. The endless mix-and-match options will allow your creativity to break free for any occasion.
Walking enthusiast, and kitchen experimenter currently living out my dream in Mexico City, Mexico.
Get my open diary posts delivered straight to your inbox.