Hamantahcen is a triangle, shell-like cookie, traditionally eaten in Purim. It's named after the evil Haman, who incited the Persian King, Ahasuerus, against the Jews and plotted to kill them all. Luckily, Haman was defeated by the good (aka queen Ester), and like every other criminal at that time, his ears were plucked before execution. In Hebrew, these cookies are called "Ozney Hamman" which means "Haman's ears", not
very appetizing but surely accurate. Israeli children, however, grow up learning that the triangle shape resembles the three-cornered hat worn by Haman until they are old enough to digest the true story. The Yiddish word Hamantaschen (meaning "Haman's pockets" ) probably refers to a triangle pastry filled with poppy seeds, that was popular in Eastern Europe since the middle age. Conveniently, "tash" means pocket in German and Yiddish, and "Mohn" (poppy seeds) sounds very similar to Haman.
There are plenty of hamantaschen dough recipes and filling options, but the main challenge in making these cookies is to keep them closed while they are baked. The following recipe includes all the tips and tricks for a successful triangle-shaped treat.
Makes 40 cookies
3 cups (420 gr) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (3 gr) baking powder
100 gr confection sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
200 gr butter, soften
1 1/2 egg for dough + 1/2 egg for egg wash
2 Tablespoons milk
Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup (180 gr) tahini paste
3/4 cup (150 gr) sugar
1/5 cup (50 gr) ground almonds, other nuts, or sweettahin's sweet dukkah
Combine all dough ingredients in a mixer bowl with the dough hook attachment. Mix just until large and moist lumps of dough have formed (do not overmix, it will result in a very tough chewy cookie), then stop the mixer and bring it all together with your hands.
Remove the dough from the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Prepare the filling: mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Make sure the filling is thick, and not runny (see picture below). Add more grounded nuts as needed.
Prepare the egg wash: whisk the 1/2 egg with 1/2 tablespoon of water.
Prepare several parchment-lined baking pans.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces, lightly flour your working surface and roll each piece into about 1/8 inch layer.
Cut the dough into circles with a 3-3 1/2" round cutter. Place the circles on the prepared baking sheets.
Brush each circle with a thin layer of egg wash.
Place a teaspoonful of filling in the center of each circle.
Fold the hamantaschen: Imagine a triangle within the circle, and bring its three corners together to almost meet in the center (leave it a bit open in the center, so the filling will be partially visible). Pinch the edges together to seal.
Transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 1/2 hour.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the hamantaschen for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway into the baking, until the cookies are lightly browned on the bottom and edges.