Purim is a Jewish holiday that in my mind has always been one big crazy party with the exchange of food at the core. So it’s only fitting that I share a recipe for Hamantashen, the triangular pastries in the shape of ears, or hats, depending on whether you originate from Sephardim or Ashekenazim Jewish ancestry. Either way, they’re great to make and share, and they happen to taste great when baked with almond flour.
Purim is based on the biblical story of Esther, from the Book of Esther. Esther is a Jewish woman who happens to be married to the Persian King. With the help of the evil Haman, an officer to the Persian King, the king declares that all Jews should be killed; quite ironic considering the king’s wife is Jewish (but he doesn’t know that). The short of the story is that Haman ends up being hanged and the Jews are saved from destruction.
Traditional hamantashen is filled with dried fruit and poppy seeds, with the seeds representing Queen Esther’s three day fast in order to repeal the decree for all Jews to be killed. Hence, poppy seeds are used in all kinds of cakes and pastries during Purim.
So, it’s up to you. Jam, poppy seed filling, cheese filling, or just about any of your favorite fillings will work in this pastry. (You’ll notice I didn’t mention chocolate, but it’s implied)
Here is one of my favorite musical groups for a modern twist on this holiday, the Maccabeats, singing their Purim song. And here’s another great rendition from the Fountainheads. Finally, a great little story about a bakery in Tel Aviv.
Note I haven’t tried this recipe yet with other oils or butters. Also, this is more of a pastry than a cookie. I’m going to do another round with about half the amount of butter to see if it becomes more of a cookie, but for now – think soft, buttery, sweet pastry.
Hamantaschen (makes about 16 pastries)
- 2 1/2 cups of almond flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
- 1 egg (optionally, 1 more egg for egg wash)
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla
- 2 tablespoons of honey (or other sweetener)
- about 1 cup of fruit preserves or other filling (I used raspberry preserves)
- 1/8 teaspoon of almond extract (optional)
- I pulse all the ingredients in a food processor, but you can use any method you like to mix the ingredients enough so most of the butter is dispersed in well. It will still show in the dough.
- Place the dough into a big piece of plastic wrap and roll it into a log. The diameter of the log is close to 2 inches. Freeze for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Take the dough out and slice a circle off the end of the dough roll.
- Place the circle on parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet. Place about a teaspoon or so of filling in the middle and then fold the dough around the filling into a triangle. Repeat for each pastry.
- Make sure to pinch each corner so that the pastries don’t open up when baking.
- Optionally, but highly recommended, you can wash the pastry edges with egg wash. Crack an egg and scramble it well. Then use a paint brush or pastry brush to brush the egg wash on each pastry. It will give it a shiny yellow patina and even adds a bit of a crunch to the pastry.
- Bake the pastries for about 15 minutes, or until they start to brown around the edges.
- Cool and enjoy!