These triangle-shaped treats may look like your average jam-filled cookies, almost like thumbprints, but they’re actually very special and have a significant meaning in Judaism.
Hamantaschen cookies are eaten traditionally every year on the holiday of Purim, which begins today, February 23 at sundown. The tender shortbread-like dough is the perfect vehicle for fruit, seed and nut fillings. A poppy seed filling is traditional, but you’ll also find recipes that call for raspberry jam, apricot preserves, prune lekvar or even chocolate-hazelnut spread. Sometimes you may even see nuts ground into to the dough.
This recipe from Duff Goldman includes lemon zest, lemon and orange juices, and brandy for great flavor. To make Duff’s poppy-seed filling, you cook together raisins, poppy seeds, milk, sugar and honey. The result is a creamy black paste that’s easy to spread. Though untraditional, Duff also recommends using store-bought English mincemeat — which is a combination of minced dried fruits — as a filling.
All you do to put the cookies together is roll out the chilled dough (Duff recommends chilling it overnight) until it’s slightly less than a 1/4 inch thick and then cut it into circles using a cookie cutter. Spoon your chosen filling onto each circle of dough, fold up the edges to create a triangular shape and pinch the corners, leaving some of the filling peeking out. It’s as simple as that.
The possibilities for filling these Jewish cookies are nearly endless. Try making them today for the holiday!