Makes around 32 cookies
I know, you needed this recipe last week for Purim. But so what? These fabulous cookies can be enjoyed year round! In fact, when I was a teeny tiny Brooklyn girl taking my yellow school bus to yeshiva kindergarten, I didn’t even know that hamantaschen were holiday specific.
Oh, what’s that you say…what’s Purim, hamantaschen and yeshiva? Google it! Just kidding (sort of.) In a nutshell, Purim is sort of Jewish Halloween (although, that definition is debated. But I always enjoyed the costume aspect!) Hamantaschen are fruit filled 3 sided cookies (shaped like a bad guy’s hat. You’ll see when you google it.) They’re fun and yummy and if you share one with any member of the tribe, their eyes will widen and their hearts will swell.
There are a few traditional fillings for the cookies. Apricot jam is popular, as is raspberry. But my favorites were always prune or poppyseed. And I have a vague memory of a filling that was both! After doing my own googling, I realized that it might not exist. But whatevs, I invented my own. Sort of a fig newton filling, with crunchy toasty poppyseeds and a few melted chocolate chips and orange for extra depth.
The dough is not quite flaky like a pastry dough. It’s crisp on the exterior, but soft and cakier inside. Lemon gives the cookie just a little bit of brightness that is very reminiscent of the Kosher bakeries of my youth.
If you grew up with these cookies, I hope they bring you back. And if you’ve never tried them, I hope you’ll become a new fan!
~ For the cookie dough, I used coconut oil for its yummy buttery qualities. Temperature seems to be a really important factor when using coconut oil (it’s solid when cold, liquid when warm), so make sure the oil is at room temperature.
~ I also use warm milk, because cold milk might make the dough too stiff. Warm the milk briefly in a microwave safe bowl or on the stove top. You want it to be slightly warmer than wrist temperature, but not hot.
~ If you’re preparing the dough way in advance and refrigerating, you’ll need to let it thaw for a good long while. The dough gets very stiff when refrigerated, and will need a few hours to get pliable again.
For the dough:
2/3 cup refined coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup warm plain non-dairy milk (I used almond)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
4 teaspoons vanilla
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons organic cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
8 oz Prunes
1/4 cup poppyseed
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
Prepare the dough:
In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat together the coconut oil and sugar. It should be somewhere between creamy and crumbly. Add the milk and beat until smooth and incorporated. Mix in the zest and vanilla.
Add 2 cups of the flour, the cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Beat on medium until smooth. Add the rest of the flour about 1/2 a cup at a time, mixing after each addition, until the dough is stiff, smooth and not tacky. It will probably start climbing up the beaters. That’s ok!
Divide dough in two, roll into a ball and flatten a bit into a fat disc, then wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. In the meantime prepare the filling.
Prepare the filling:
Roughly chop the prunes and place them in a sauce pot. Add the poppyseeds, sugar, orange juice, water and orange zest. Cover and bring to a simmer. Let it cook until the prunes are very soft, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes. If it seems too stiff, add a little extra water, a tablespoon at a time, until it loosens up a bit. It should be the texture of a thick jam.
Transfer to a blender and add the chocolate chips. Puree the mixture while still warm so that the chips melt. If it is too thick to puree, once again, add a little water until it will blend.
Once nice and smooth (although many poppyseeds will remain whole) transfer to a bowl and set aside at room temp until ready to form the cookies.
Form the cookies:
Have ready 2 large baking sheets, lined with parchment paper.
Sprinkle a clean, dry countertop with a little flour. Take one portion of dough and flatten it out a bit with the palm of your hand, then roll about 1/8 inch thick, sprinkling with flour if the dough seems sticky.
Using a 3 inch cookie cutter, create 14 to 16 circles of dough.
Then peel away the excess dough.
Now fill each cookie with about a teaspoon of filling.
Pinch together two sides to form a cone.
Then fold up the bottom, once again pinching the sides to seal.
Now you’ve got a bunch of Hamantaschen!
Preheat oven to 350 F then roll out the other portion of dough and repeat. If desired, you can roll out the remaining excess dough and make a few more cookies. I’m always too lazy to do that!
Bake cookies for 10 minutes, then rotate pans and bake for another 8 minutes or so. The bottoms should be golden brown. The tops don’t brown much.
Transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. Store cookies at room temp in a tightly sealed container. I think they taste even better the next day. Happy Purim!