Hamantaschens: The Journey

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Recipe: Hamantaschens

Ingredients for dough:

  • 1/4 cup browned butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups flour

Ingredients for chocolate filling:

  • 3 or 4 pieces of baking chocolate (milk is best)
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 50 g butter
  • Nuts if you want (I bet some almonds would be mighty rad)

Ingredients for hazelnut filling:

  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts (or just a handful)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • pinches salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4-5 tbsp browned butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp flavoring (I went with orange liqueur and hot damn)

So. As you can tell, this is a master monster recipe to make… and also one I have shamelessly used Smitten Kitchen‘s techniques and mostly her recipe for. I bow and give her all the credit for everything that is about to go on below. In advance, I tell you that this took me the majority of my night, around 9-11pm, but that in the end – it was totally worth it. I love having a multitude of hamantaschens to choose from and feed to everyone I know. In the interest of laziness, along with the hazelnut and chocolate toppings, I also made some with pre-made poppy seed filling and apricot jam. Admittedly, those were the easiest.

  1. Making the browned butter: I made this in two batches, but do as you like. Take 1/4 cup of butter and melt in the a pan. Keep constantly stirring… though I’m not sure what happens when you don’t. Eventually, it will begin to smell more nutty – and the coloring will begin to turn a light and kind of pleasant hazelnut brown. At this point, you’ve done it! Success! Take that, and add it to your mixing bowl.
  2. Waiting for the butter to cool… Okay. Then, whisk sugar, vanilla – then eggs, salt and baking powder. Here’s where it’s about to get kind of annoying and really good for building those forearm muscles. It’s time to add 2 1/4 cups of flour. I recommend doing it slowly, and not dumping in all the flour at once. In the last 1/4 cup, I was using my hands shamelessly.
  3. Divide the dough into two large disks and place it in the fridge for probably around an hour. Smitten Kitchen recommends two, and other cooks recommended 30 minutes… but I was hungry, and mine came out tasting pretty delicious.
  4. It’s filling time! Since the hazelnut filling has the most components, start there. If you have a food processor, I’m very jealous, but also you have the capacity to simply put the hazelnuts, salt and sugar in the machine and grinding them. Brown an additional 4-5 tbsp of butter at this point, and add it to your mixture. Smell good yet?
  5. Add your egg and the additional flavoring… I’m telling you, use the orange Cointreau. I was eating this filling raw and could not stop.
  6. Place it back in the fridge to cool, since it will be easier to scoop. THEN, you can make your chocolate filling, if you’re so inclined.
  7. Over a boiling pot of water, take a metal bowl and melt some butter, adding in finely chopped baking chocolate. When that’s looking like you could stuff your face into it, add the flour and any additional flavors that you might want – along with the sugar. Done and Presto.
  8. At this point, it’s probably been around an hour, so it’s time to make the cookies!
  9. Preheat your oven to 350F/175C, and prep some baking sheets with parchment paper.
  10. Flour your counter accordingly, and begin to roll out the dough. The thickness does actually matter here, because the dough is so flaky. Smitten Kitchen recommends 1/8 inch, and as an amateur baker, I have no idea what that means. So my thoughts for you: roll it out until it isn’t crepe-thin, but maybe on the pancake-thin side. Take a glass or a cookie-cutter, and begin to cut out little circles for your hamantaschens.
  11. In the center, place whatever filling you want… you have SO many options at this point. There’s chocolate, hazelnut, apricot and poppy seed filling (and anything else if you’re so inclined). Take a teaspoon of whatever you want, or how you want to mix them.
  12. I promise you, a teaspoon is enough. Every time I tried to put more, my cookie was still delicious… but not exactly photogenic.
  13. Roll up the sides nearest to you and pinch the top of the dough into a triangle shape. Think pilgrim hat.
  14. Do the same with your second round of dough, and use the scraps for as much extra hamantaschen as you can.
  15. Put them on your baking tray, I got in around 12 or 15 for each tray – and put them in the oven for 11 minutes, checking after that to see how they’re doing. The cooking do expand exceedingly – so make sure to leave enough space for each.
  16. The cookies will be delicious, so eat or gift them.

Whew. I’m exhausted just writing this. I had an absolute blast making these, even if I basically just followed someone else’s recipe and didn’t get to improvise (minus adding some different fillings). They are honestly the greatest gifts or just fun things to bring to the office and surprise your coworkers with. The dough is super delicious on its own, and I highly recommend just making shortbread cookies with whatever you can’t roll out into cookie formation. Much as I loved it, the dough is incredibly stiff, and you definitely need to be careful with how much you’re rolling/kneading. Also: The amount of extra filling!! But don’t worry, because tomorrow I’m posting a quick and easy recipe for getting rid of all of your hamantaschen fillings (well… the hazelnut and chocolate ones, at least). Otherwise, eat all of the hamantaschens and feel no shame – because it’s almost Passover and that means more delicious overwhelmingly unhealthy recipes are on the way! Let me know what awesome flavor mixtures you used!

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