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Hamantaschen II

I almost didn’t write this post because my Hamantaschen are so ugly. In fact, they’re even uglier than last year’s [1] which I didn’t think was possible. And you wouldn’t know it from looking at my photos, but Hamantaschen are triangular shaped cookies, representative of Purim [2]‘s villain Haman’s triangular ears/pocket/hat depending on whom you ask. I think in Hebrew school we learned it was either Haman’s hat (remember the song?) or ears, but really–triangular ears?

Anyway, Hamantaschen are soft cookies, traditionally with a poppy seed filling, but we grew up eating apricot ones, hence my apricot filling. I used the same apricot filling recipe (yum!) from last year but decided to give this new dough recipe a shot, and it’s good! However, I ran into one weird problem–I baked some on parchment and some on Silpats. The ones on parchment tended to open more and the ones on Silpats stayed sealed. Weird, huh?

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine
1 1/4 cups sugar + a pinch for the egg wash
3 eggs + 1 for the egg wash
1/4 cup orange juice or milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Approximately 4 to 4 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Fruit preserves. (Not jam.) You can also use Nutella.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, cream the shortening, butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too hard to blend or seems curdled, add about 1 tbs of flour to bind it.

Stir in the orange juice or milk and the vanilla. Fold in 4 cups of flour, salt and baking powder. Mix to make a firm but soft dough. Cover and let the dough rest for 10 minutes to give the flour time to absorb all the moisture. If the dough is too sticky to handle after ten minutes have passed, add extra flour up to 1/2 cup. The dough will be sticky when it’s ready, but you should be able to handle it without it getting stuck to your fingers.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 flattened discs and work with one portion at a time. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured board to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Use a 3-inch cookie or biscuit cutter and cut as many rounds as you can.

In a small bowl mix 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of water and a pinch of sugar to make an egg glaze. Brush the rounds with the wash, then fill each with a generous 1/2 teaspoonful of your desired filling. Fold 3 sides of each circle together, creating triangles. I like to leave a little space in the center so you can see what the filling is (plus it looks pretty), but you can also seal your hamantaschen completely.

Brush the cookies with additional egg wash. If desired, sprinkle with regular or coarse sugar, and bake in the center of the preheated oven until golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets.

Bake your hamantaschen in the upper third of the oven – usually the bottom part of the oven is too hot and may also cause premature bottom-browning. If you want to use leftover scraps to make more cookies, only roll them out once more because a lean dough like this one can only be rolled a couple times before becoming really tough.

This dough can be frozen for about 2 months or refrigerated (wrapped well in plastic) for one to three days. Just give it time to warm up before rolling it out. You can also freeze or refrigerate the filled triangles before baking. If you do this, just bake them without defrosting.

More photos here [3].

My notes

Recipe from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman via Baking and Books [4].
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