Poppy Seed Hamantaschen

22 Feb

Purim is one of my favorite holidays, and not just because you are supposed to party.  It also gives me an excuse to bake (and eat) some delicious cookies.

Hamantaschen are a traditional part of Purim – and poppy seed is the best (and perhaps most traditional) flavor. There are a variety of theories about the origin and symbolism of these cookies, but my favorite is that they are shaped like the triangular hat worn by the villain in the book of Esther.

Whatever their origin, they are delicious.  I’ve made countless batches over the years, but this recipe is my crowning achievement – I finally nailed the perfect cake consistency with a light citrus flavor.  Though I rarely bake with Crisco, it turns out to be critical.  The filling is incredible as well – the almond flour brings out the nutty flavor of the poppy seeds and helps thicken the consistency.

hamantaschen

Ingredients:

Dough
1 cup sugar (200 g)
1/3 c earth balance/spreadable margarine (58 g)
1/3 c Crisco
juice of 2 oranges (1/2 cup + 2 tsp)
zest of 1 1/2 oranges
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour (500 g) + extra for rolling
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
 
Filling
1/2 cup poppy seeds (70 g)
1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened vanilla
3 Tbsp raisins (30 g)
1 1/2 cups sugar (275 g)
1/2 cup almond flour (48 g)
4 tsp earth balance (or margarine) (15 g)
1 egg
2 tsp orange juice

Directions:

Cream sugar, earth balance, and Crisco. Mix in orange juice, zest, vanilla, and eggs. Whisk until smooth.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour liquid in.  Fold together with wooden spoon until evenly mixed.  It will be soft and sticky.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 mins or up to 2 days.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grind the poppy seeds in a spice grinder.  In a small saucepan, combine the poppy seeds with the almond milk, raisins, sugar, almond flour, and earth balance.  Heat over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to thicken.  Blend with a hand blender.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg.  Slowly pour the hot, poppy seed mixture, whisking vigorously.  Mix  in orange juice. Let cool to room temperature. It will thicken as it cools.

Roll out dough on parchment paper to 1/8″ thick, using flour to prevent sticking. Cut out circles with a 3″ biscuit cutter.    Put 1 tsp filling in the center.  Dip your finger in water and run along the edge of the dough. Pinch it into a triangle by folding three sides up.

Put cookies 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Put in the fridge for 15-20 minutes – my first batch unfolded quite a bit, but the ones I put in the fridge first, held together best.

Bake 16 minutes, until just starting to turn golden. Let cool on a cooling rack.

Store in an airtight container until ready to eat! Freeze extra filling or use in my purim poppy seed scones (come back tomorrow for that recipe).

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