Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hamantashan Cookies

On a whim tonight I decided to bake Hamantashan, a delicious Jewish shortbread cookie made with assorted jams. I had gathered the ingredients to make them a long time ago, but summer has been hectic and it wasn’t until tonight that I finally had some down time and remembered how delicious shortbread cookies are with a cup of coffee (or tea, you tea lovers).

The recipe I found and decided to use was from Smitten-Kitchen and, following their lead, I too decided to omit the ‘kosher’ ideal of the Hamantashan and use butter rather than oil, as I like a thick, dense cookie (it’s good for the dipping!). The jams I had on hand were apricot, blackberry and strawberry, which made not only a delicious variety, but a darn good looking presentation, if I do say so myself. The recipe is as follows:

Hamantashan Cookies:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 1/3 cups plus 4 teaspoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Jams (raspberry, blackberry and apricot work best)

Servings: 22 cookies

Using a spatula, cream butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and mix for one minute longer, then add egg, vanilla extract, orange zest and salt, mixing until combined. Finally, add the flour. The mixture should come together and be a tad sticky. If it feels too wet, add an additional tablespoon of flour. Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 350°F.

To form the Hamantaschen, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it is about 1/4-inch thick.

Using a round cookie cutter (3 inches is traditional, but very large; I used one that was 2 1/2 inches), cut the dough into circles. If the dough is sticking to your surface, try rolling small balls of dough with your palms and flattening them evenly on the cookie sheet; this also works well. Spoon a teaspoon (it won’t look like enough, but trust me, it bubbles over as it heats) of you filling of choice in the center.

Fold the dough in from three sides and firmly crimp the corners and give them a little twist to ensure they stay closed. Leave the filling mostly open in the center. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool.

All in all, the cookies came out very delicious—rich and buttery with a nice crisp. In the future, however, I think I’d like to try more jams, including orange marmalade in lieu of apricot (not too much of a flavor there). I also think red raspberry jam would make one mean cookie! The twisting technique I used seemed to work, as not many of the cookies unfolded in the oven as they did in the past. As I rolled the corners, I simply pinched the two sides together; this seems to do the trick.

I may not be Jewish, but I am definitely a cookie convert— Hamantaschens are delicious!!


Caleb said...

Yum, those look great!

Charlie said...

They taste great too. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

I messed up once; used a whole package of cream cheese... still tasted yummy.

I have problems keeping the triangle to stay up when it bakes... (probably because of the overuse of the cream cheese) but i resolved the issue in my next batch by using a mini-muffin pan.

I flatten out the dough, bring it up the sides about half way, drop in my various fruit preserves and they are quite tasty.

Fixin' to go make a batch right now to take to some friends.

Thanks again.

Ms. Charlie Nystel, Tyler Texas