While Gordon made Haman’s Ears for Purim, I decided to go for something a little less cannibalistic and make the traditional hamantaschen. Many a young Jewish-American child will learn this week in Hebrew school that the triangle shape of the hamantaschen represents the three corners of Haman’s hat, but in Israel they are still referred to as Haman’s Ears. Back in my younger days I used to make these every year around Purim, but haven’t made them in many years. I used to take a short cut and fill them with fruit preserves, which still produces a delicious treat, but I decided to change it up a bit and go for the more traditional poppy seed variety. I also noticed as I was pursuing recipes that the doughs were all variations on rolled butter cookies, so rather than futz around with them I decided to use my favorite from Cooks Illustrated. You will need about a cup of poppy seeds for the filling so I suggest you find a place to buy them in bulk, as they will be significantly cheaper that way. A couple of warnings about the poppy seeds: One, stock up on dental floss and make sure you check your teeth after consuming one of these, as they will most likely be riddled with seeds. Two, don’t eat these if you have a drug screen coming up. You will consume way more poppy seeds in one of these cookies compared to the average muffin or bagel (and I dare you to eat just one) and you may very well test positive for opiates for up to 48 hours. So either way, these are not good pre-interview snacks, but post-some-Purim-worthy-inebriation they are delightful.
After I had already rolled out my dough I couldn’t find my round cookies cutters so I quickly improvised by having some tuna salad for lunch and using the can to cut out the cookies. It makes for a bigger than usual cookie, but is still really good.
Poppy Seed Hamantaschen
- 1 C poppy seeds
- 1/2 C milk
- 1/2 C raisins (roughly chopped, you can use the food processor)
- 4 Tbs sugar
- 4 Tbs honey
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 C sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg plus 1 yolk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 C. flour
For the filling:
- Mix all ingredients except for the vanilla in a non-stick pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until most of the milk has been absorbed.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool completely.
For the dough:
- With mixer, cream butter, sugar and salt. Add yolk then whole egg and vanilla. Add flour until fully mixed in. Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Remove dough from fridge and allow to warm up about 10-15 minutes and roll to 1/4 in thick.
- Use a round cutter to cut out the cookies. Place about 1-2 Tbs of the filling in the center of each round(depending on the size of your cookies).
- Fold 3 sides of the dough over the center, leaving some of the filling showing and pinch closed the corner to form triangles.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cookies a golden and corners begin to brown.
You can serve them warm but I find them to be tastier after they have cooled completely and the filling has set. Store in an airtight container or zip-top bag.