No-fail hamantaschen
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No-fail hamantaschen

An easy dough recipe and a hack for great fillings.

No-fail hamantaschen (Photo by Jessica Grann)
No-fail hamantaschen (Photo by Jessica Grann)

I spent a good part of my adult life failing at hamantaschen recipes. The triangles didn’t look much like triangles after baking, the dough was hard or the filling leaked all over the baking sheet and made a huge mess.

This is not my dough recipe, so I don’t want to take credit for inventing it. A friend shared it online, I played with it slightly and it turned out beautifully. I noticed in the same week that several professional cooks shared almost the identical recipe — so it’s floating around, but I don’t have a source. I’m happy to share it because it is the easiest dough I have worked with for this cookie.

I will also share my hack for the jam filling, which keeps in place and inside the cookie and is worth the few extra minutes of prep time to ensure beautiful hamantaschen.

This recipe is a keeper; you will tuck it away in your recipe file and use it year after year with the best results. The cookie is firm, yet moist, and the sweetness comes more from the filling than the dough.

Ingredients for the dough:
Makes about 18 nice-sized cookies

2 large eggs
½ cup oil
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange or lemon zest, optional
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough

This recipe can be mixed by hand with a bit of extra effort, but I prefer to use a stand mixer since it creates only one bowl for clean-up and makes my life a little bit easier. You can make this dough a day ahead, or even in the morning, and refrigerate it until it’s time to use, but refrigeration is not necessary.

Directions:
Mix the eggs and sugar together on low until blended, then add in the oil and vanilla and blend on medium-low speed until combined. This entire step takes about 1 minute.

If you choose to add citrus zest, this is the time to add it.

Add the flour, about half a cup at a time, until just combined without any noticeable lumps. Overmixing any kind of pastry, cookie, or bread dough can ruin it. It should not take more than 1 or 2 minutes in the mixer to combine the flour with the rest of the ingredients.

Add the salt last, and mix for another 5 seconds.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of flour on a clean surface, and roll out the dough to about ⅛ inch thick. This is a little thicker than you would use for a pie crust. If the dough is too thin, the pinched corners will fall apart during baking.

Using a round cookie cutter (mine is about 4 inches in diameter), cut circles close together to get as many cookies as possible out of the first batch.

Place the cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Take the remaining cookie dough, form a ball, and roll it out again, adding flour if necessary. Repeat until you can’t cut any more cookies.

Place 1 tablespoon of jam or filling of your choice in each cookie before pinching 3 times to create 3 corners resembling Haman’s triangular-shaped hat. Referencing a clock so you can visualize the easiest way to do this, pinch first at the top, at the placement of 12 o’clock; then pinch at 4 and at 7 o’clock.

Smooth out the edges so they are straight and strong.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes on the center oven rack. I suggest baking one tray at a time. If you use a smaller cookie cutter, decrease the baking time. The cookies should look just slightly golden in color to avoid dryness.

Remove tray from oven and let cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
Let cool completely before storing.

The filling:
Most people have a favorite filling, and if you have one that works well you should use it with this dough recipe. If you’ve had problems with the jam filling leaking out follow my hack.

Per each 12-ounce jar of jam or preserves, use a slurry of one teaspoon of potato or corn starch mixed with 1 tablespoon of warm water. A slurry is a tasteless mixture used to thicken all sorts of foods from jam to pudding to soup. The starch and water will separate when it stands on the counter, so mix it again immediately before adding it to the jam.

Directions:
Empty one jar of jam into a saucepan.

Heat on low/simmer for 3-5 minutes, until the jam softens and is gently bubbling. Stir the jam every minute or so to keep it from burning or sticking.

Mix the slurry quickly before whisking it into the jam.

Allow the mixture to come again to a gentle bubbling simmer and remove from the heat.

Using a rubber spatula, pour this mixture while it is hot and runny back into the original jam jar. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before adding to the cookie dough.

You won’t see a color change or taste the difference using this method; the jam will just be firmer to the touch. This hack works for any cookie that calls for a jam filling. If you have extra jam left over, nobody will taste the change if they use it on toast or a sandwich.

Happy Purim ~ Purim Sameach! Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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