Photo Credit: Jewish Press

It’s time for another trip down memory lane.

I was about six and so proud as I walked up and down our block in Kew Gardens Hills, distributing the mishloach manos loaded up in my doll carriage; sometimes I was even rewarded with a shiny new quarter. Back then, the concept of themed mishloach manos didn’t exist as far as I knew, and they consisted of either an apple or an orange, a paper muffin cup filled with nuts and raisins and, of course, homemade hamantaschen. They came in exactly three flavors: apricot, prune (which looked scary but really weren’t half bad) and poppy seed (which looked scary and tasted even scarier).

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Fast-forward a decade or two and hamantaschen pretty much fell out of favor. I have no doubt there were plenty of reasons for this culinary phenomenon, but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, hamantaschen are back in a very big way. And while purists insist on traditional fillings, others are reinventing and loading them up with goodies ranging from s’mores to baklava to pulled brisket and even spinach and cheese.

While my father would probably consider savory hamantaschen to be sacrilegious, the experts in the kosher world are pretty divided. Some of the best known kosher food bloggers, Instagrammers, cookbook authors and others shared their thoughts on the great hamantaschen debate.

 

Old School:

Chef Chaya (Kosher lifestyle influencer/Instagram sensation) – Being an influencer, I always have to stay ahead of the trend. While my tablescapes, recipes and marketing tips are sometimes ahead of the game, when it comes to traditional foods, I’m as old school as you can get. Give me a classic apricot jam hamantasch and don’t change a thing… well maybe hand me another 🙂

Daniella Silver (Silver Platter cookbooks) – I would definitely consider myself a traditionalist when it comes to hamantaschen. I look forward to my mom’s, Resa Litwack, standard poppy seed, cherry and prune every year. Poppy seed is my all time favorite! I love seeing the creativity people come up with year to year and I can appreciate the excitement that goes into it, but I stick to the basics.

Esty Wolbe (Cooking with Tantrums/I Don’t Cook, But I Give Out Recipes) – There is nothing like a traditional raspberry hamantasch, fruity jam perfectly nestled in a cookie folded just so, crisp, yet soft; sweet and tart. I guess you can say I’m a traditionalist, aside from how delicious they are, they make me feel connected to all the generations of wonderful bakers who made them just the same way. Poppy and apricot are okay too, but I call dibs on the raspberry!

In general, the kosher food scene has greatly evolved over the last few years and hamantaschen are no exception. The farthest I’ve gone in this area are my pizza-tashen, which are basically sauce and cheese in the center of a store bought pizza dough round, pinched at the corners in classic hamantasch fashion. My kids absolutely adore them and they are super simple to prepare.

 

Nouveau:

Esther Deutsch (Food stylist/CHIC Made Simple) – I don’t bake hamantaschen; I’m really good at eating them though. The ones filled with caramel or Rosemarie chocolate are divine.

Asako Miyashita (Japanese registered dietician/nutritionist) – I developed an interest in Jewish culture, especially foods; after all, food is my business! I developed recipes for my Jewish clientele for my favorite holiday, Purim, using traditional Japanese ingredients including yuzu jam filling, miso paste mixed with chocolate, caramelized walnuts in honey with soy sauce, sweet black sesame seed tahini and green tea chocolate.

Melinda Strauss (Kitchen Tested) – When it comes to hamantaschen, I believe in both traditional and new combos. I love a classic simple hamantaschen: apricot filling, simple soft dough with golden edges. Total comfort food! But hamantaschen are also a blank canvas and I love to come up with new flavors every year. Why not think outside the box?!? Tradition is only the base line for my imagination!

Paula Shoyer (Author of four kosher cookbooks, most recently Healthy Jewish Kitchen) – After generations of bakers following the rules and baking prune, poppy and apricot, I fully embrace making hamantaschen that are unique and still delicious. I have a rainbow of hamantasch flavors in my book, The Holiday Kosher Baker, which include green tea and chocolate chunk with chocolate pieces in the dough, two of my personal favorites. I have also created granola, baklava and other fun flavors. My new ideas came to me in the middle of the night, jet-lagged in London for a bar mitzvah when, somehow, I was thinking about French macarons and wondered why not apply that approach to hamantaschen with different colors and flavors?

Chef Moses Wendel (Patis bakery, Lyndhurst, formerly of Pardes, Brooklyn) – At Pardes, we served up some truly creative flavor combinations including porcini-almond, lavender-prune and “bacon”-hazelnut. This year at Patis we will be baking up more conservative flavors in order to allow our light and extremely flaky puff pastry dough to speak for itself.

 

Equal Opportunity Hamantasch Lover:

Eitan Bernath (Food blogger and photographer, two-time Food Network contestant) – In my house, the hamantaschen have always been made by my dad. He made the classics like apricot jelly, raspberry jelly, poppy seed, and more using a thick, soft dough. Some years I like to make some too and I do my own spins like making lachmagine hamantaschen, a savory take on the classic. My favorite is definitely apricot. I am usually not into traditional Jewish food, but I make an exception on Purim.

Chanalee Fischer (The Challah Fairy, New City) – At The Challah Fairy we do everything in our power to make any holiday special for kids, adding colorful sprinkles to hamantasch dough, rainbow hamantaschen – you name it, we will do it. My favorite is still poppy or prune filled and we also make challah hamantaschen filled with chocolate chips and vanilla crumbs – yum – and everything is nut free!

Kim Kushner (Author of three kosher cookbooks, most recently, I Heart Kosher) – I personally love the old school, traditional poppy or apricot but, of course, I go crazy making wild and modern flavors and twists including Nutella, PB&J, Ferraro Rocher, Toblerone and Biscoff. I stick flavor syringes in my hamantaschen too – raspberry jelly for peanut butter ones, date syrup in nut filled and maple syrup in the Biscoff ones. And I always go for a cookie crispy texture rather than a soft crumbly one.

Miriam Pascal (Overtime Cook/Real Life Kosher Cooking and Something Sweet) – I actually love traditional hamantaschen, when well made and filled with good quality filling, but don’t worry, I love creative and cool flavors as well. Lately, due to the huge amount of sweets around on Purim, I find myself making fun savory variations each year. My Purim seudah appetizer is some kind of savory hamantaschen, plated with some salad and a dipping sauce. Recent favorites have been beef wonton, BBQ meatball, and meat pie. I do believe that hamantaschen need to be softer than a sugar cookie type dough, otherwise they’re just fancy shaped sugar cookies!

Shoshana Turin (Cooking In Heelss) – I tend to be split when I think of hamantaschen. On the one hand, I love seeing what everyone thinks up every year. The amount of creativity is incredible, especially my friend Melinda from Kitchen Tested who has some of the most amazing ideas I’ve seen, like her Krembo, rainbow and jalapeño popper hamantaschen. I try to put myself into this mix and contribute at least one non-classic hamantasch every year. On the other hand, when it comes down to tasting hamantaschen for Purim, I will always choose classic over creative every single time.

I don’t really remember making hamantaschen with my mother; she stopped baking when I was very young but I look forward to the classic apricot and raspberry versions that the rebbitzen of our shul makes. Every year my dad delivers a special mishloach manos to his rabbi, and I used to go with him, reaching my hand into the massive silver bowl of golden hamantaschen, choosing at least two if not more. They were perfect. When I stopped going with my dad I would always ask that he bring home the rebbitzen’s hamantaschen. Since I’ve created my own home, year after year I ask the rebbitzen for the recipe. I’m still hoping that one year she’ll say yes!

Me? I’m not a food blogger or an expert or anything like that, but I am a real hamantasch lover. Whether or not I will be baking any this year remains to be seen, but one thing is definitely sure – I’m still avoiding the poppy seed ones, because all these years later, they still look scary and taste even scarier.

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Hamantaschen With Caramelized Walnuts In Honey With Soy Sauce
By Asako Miyashita

Makes 22-25

Ingredients:
For Dough:
¼ cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ cup pure cane sugar
2 cups all purpose flour + more for rolling
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
1-2 teaspoons water if needed

Caramelized Walnuts In Honey With Soy Sauce Filling:
¼ cup pure cane sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup organic raw honey
2 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven 350°F.

For dough:
In a medium bowl, whisk together sifted all purpose flour and whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, mix canola oil and sugar well together. Add and mix whisked eggs and soy sauce until fluffy.

Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ones and mix until the dough comes together with a wooden spoon. Knead with your hands until smooth. If the dough is dry, add 1 teaspoon water. Gather the dough and divided it in half with a knife and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll out the dough into a ¼-inch-thick round.

Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter or glass, cut out circles. Place on baking sheet 1 inch apart. Place 1-1.5 teaspoons of filling into the center of each circle. Press up the sides to form triangles and pinch to enclose the filling.

Bake at 350° F for 18-20 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheet for 5-10 minutes, then move to a wire rack.

 

For Filling:
Mix cane sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a pot. Once boiling, reduce heat and add all ingredients. Simmer and stir often until the mixture thickens for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

 

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BBQ Meatball Hamantaschen
Miriam Pascal, OvertimeCook.com

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients:
½ cup barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
½ lb ground beef
1 package (24 pieces) mini pizza dough rounds (2-3 inches)

  

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together barbecue sauce, paprika, ground ginger, chili powder and mustard until combined.

Place meat into a medium bowl and add ⅔ of the sauce. Mix to distribute the sauce through the meat. Form the mixture into 24 small meatballs. Reserve remaining sauce.

Brush a bit of the reserved sauce in the center of a pizza dough round, then place a meatball on top of it. Fold the circle into the three cornered hamantashen shape, then place on the prepared baking sheet.

Repeat with remaining dough, sauce and meatballs. Brush sauce over the tops of each hamantash. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and the dough is cooked through.

 

Plan Ahead:

These hamantaschen freeze well in an airtight container or bag.

 

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Babkataschen
Shoshana Turin – Cooking in Heelss

 

Dough:
½ cup butter or vegan butter
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp flour

Ganache:
1 cup chocolate chips
⅓ cup heavy cream or canned coconut milk
1 tbsp butter or vegan butter

Crumble:
½ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
2-3 tbsp oil
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla

 

Directions:
In medium bowl, add the chocolate chips, heavy cream and butter. Microwave in 30 second spurts, mixing in between until the chips melt and the mixture is uniform. Transfer to the fridge and allow to harden till the mixture is scoopable.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla. Sift in the 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt and mix until a smooth dough forms – it should be tacky but not sticky and should not crumble between your fingers. Set aside ¼ of the dough in a bowl. Knead the remaining 3 tbsp of flour into the dough. In the set aside portion, knead in the cocoa powder until integrated.

Take a portion of regular dough and then a small portion of chocolate and layer until you have finished all the dough. Then roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper, using a 2-inch cookie cutter to create as many circles as you can. Gather the extra dough together and reroll to form more hamataschen. In the center of the circles, place about 1 heaping teaspoon of ganache. Pinch the top of the circle together tightly so that a point forms. Fold the bottom of the circle up toward the top and pinch the sides so that a triangle forms. The filling should only be a little bit visible in the center. Place the hamataschen on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Mix together the flour, sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl and pour in the oil slowly until the texture of a crumb is reached. You may need a little less or more than called for. Brush the hamantaschen with a little bit of water and then sprinkle the crumbs on top, saving the remaining crumb for another time.

Place in the fridge for 25-30 minutes or until the butter firms up again. Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

The ganache may harden after a while so just pop it into the oven for 2 minutes if you want a gooey melty filling.

 

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Hamantaschen With Three Fillings
By Kim Kushner from her book, The New Kosher (August 2015, Weldon Owen)

Makes 24

I think I’ve tried every dough recipe for hamantaschen that exists. And this one is my hands-down favorite. The key to making hamantaschen that hold together in the oven—we’ve all seen those oozing, exploding ones—is to bake them when they are frozen. Yes! After forming the hamantaschen, I place them in the freezer for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 48 hours, and then I transfer them directly from the freezer to a preheated oven (after a quick brush of egg wash). This will leave you with perfectly shaped, mouthwatering hamantaschen. I guess the secret is out of the bag!

 

Ingredients:
4 large eggs
1½ cups (12 oz/375 g) sugar
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
6 cups (30 oz/940 g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
Kosher salt
Fillings of choice (see below)

 

Directions:

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment, reduce the speed to low, and beat in the flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt until a soft, nonsticky dough forms (or, fold in with a spatula).

Divide the dough into 5 equal balls and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours. Remove from the fridge and let soften on the countertop for 10 minutes before rolling out the dough. You can also freeze the dough for up to 2 months; thaw overnight in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place a ball of dough on a piece of parchment paper and roll out into a round 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Use an overturned glass or a cookie cutter to cut the dough into 4-inch (10-cm) rounds.

Place the filling in the center of each round as directed. To shape each triangular hamantasch, fold the left side of the round toward the center and then fold the right side toward the center, overlapping the sides slightly at the top. Fold the bottom of the round up to complete the triangle, leaving a small opening that reveals the filling in the center.

Pinch the seams tightly to secure. Reroll the scraps, cut out more rounds, and shape as directed above. Repeat with the remaining dough and fillings. Place the hamantaschen on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Place the baking sheets in the freezer for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 48 hours, until ready to bake.

Bake 2 sheets at a time, rotating the sheets back to front midway during baking, until the hamantaschen are golden, 15–20 minutes. Let cool on the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes.

Freeze in a single layer in lock-top plastic freezer bags for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature before serving.

 

Fillings:

There are no specific measurements for these fillings, so just eyeball the amount of each ingredient. You really can’t make a mistake, I promise.

 

Rocky Road Filling:
Chocolate pieces of your choice (Rolo, Hershey’s Kisses, and M&M’S work well, too)
Mini marshmallows
Pretzels, broken into small pieces
Marshmallow fluff or melted marshmallows

Directions:
In a small bowl, stir together chocolate pieces, marshmallows, and pretzels. Place 1 teaspoon filling in the center of each dough round. Fold the dough and bake as directed. Drizzle marshmallow fluff sparingly over the cooled hamantaschen.

 

Cookies & Cream Filling:
Chocolate or peanut butter spread (something that will allow the cookie bits to stick to the dough)
Cookies of your choice, broken into small pieces
Chocolate of your choice, melted

Directions:
Place a small dollop of the spread in the center of each dough round. Top with about 1 teaspoon cookie pieces. Fold the dough and bake as directed. Drizzle melted chocolate over the cooled hamantaschen.

 

Ferrero Rocher Filling:
Ferrero Rocher chocolates, broken into tiny pieces, or blanched and roasted hazelnuts; chocolate of choice, melted; and Nutella
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Directions:
If using Ferrero Rocher chocolates, place a few pieces in the center of each dough round. Alternatively, dip hazelnuts in the melted chocolate and let dry on a plate. Place 1 teaspoon Nutella in the center of each dough round and place a chocolate-coated hazelnut
in the center of the Nutella. Fold the dough and bake as directed. Dust the cooled hamantaschen with cocoa powder.

 

* * * * *

Caramel Macchiato Hamantaschen
Melinda Strauss

Ingredients:
For Espresso Dough:
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted vegan butter or margarine, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 cup dairy free whipping cream (such as Rich Whip)
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 cups flour
2 tbsp instant espresso powder

 

For White Chocolate Filling:
1 cup white chocolate chips
¼ cup dairy free whipping cream (such as Rich Whip)

 

For Caramel Drizzle:
Use store bought or follow the Artisan Caramels recipe on busyinbrooklyn.com

 

Directions:
Espresso Dough:
In a stand mixer with the beater attachment, beat together the margarine and sugar on medium speed until smooth and fluffy then turn the mixer to low, slowly add the un-whipped whipping cream and vanilla extract. Raise the mixer to medium speed and continue beating until smooth.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour and instant espresso powder until the mixture is completely combined and no flour can be seen. The dough should be very thick.

Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Dough can be refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

 

White Chocolate Filling:
Place the white chocolate chips in a mixing bowl. Separately, warm the whipping cream in a small saucepan until steam begins to form on the surface but the cream isn’t boiling. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate chips and stir until a smooth white chocolate ganache is formed. Refrigerate the ganache to thicken.

 

Caramel Drizzle:
If preparing homemade caramel drizzle, allow to cool slightly while baking. If bought, warm in the microwave for 15 seconds.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Let the dough sit on the counter for 10 minutes. Lightly flour the counter and roll out the dough to around ¼ inch thick. Don’t make the dough too thin or it won’t hold together while it bakes. Cut out rounds of dough using a 3 or 3½ inch cookie cutter.

Transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet, brush the edges with water then add a half teaspoon of the white chocolate filling and pinch the edges together to create a triangle. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack. Drizzle the caramel over the tops of the hamantaschen. Allow to set before serving.

Can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 2-3 days. If freezing, don’t drizzle the caramel until they have defrosted and you are ready to serve.

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