February 28, 2013

Prune & Poppyseed Hamantaschen

by IsaChandra

Makes around 32 cookies

Vegan Hamantaschen

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!

Recipe Notes

~ 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!

  • February 28, 2013 at 9:29 pm: mollyjade

    Eating hamentaschen always makes me feel like a little girl. In a good way. And prune and poppyseed are undisputedly the best flavors.

  • February 28, 2013 at 9:46 pm: Aryeh

    As a child I hated poppyseed filling until I made my own, and since then I am addicted. The secret is that once you grind poppyseed the oils will go rancid quickly, which is why I remembered a terrible bitter undertaste. If you grind and immediately make a cooked filling, it will taste like spice from Dune… .
    Poppyseed filling:
    100 gr unground poppyseed (becomes around 1 C ground)
    1/3 C sugar
    pinch salt
    1/2 C water
    – Grind the poppyseed in a small spice grinder or blender, mix with water sugar and salt. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan until it thickens

  • February 28, 2013 at 11:26 pm: Shannon

    My partner and I made samoa and PB&J flavored ones this year!

    • March 1, 2013 at 5:42 am: IsaChandra

      Wow! Sounds creative.

  • March 1, 2013 at 1:35 am: kittee

    I was deprived as a child, but I have taken back my youth, so don’t worry about me. I love your addition of chocolate chips, but I am seriously mesmerized by the idea of samoa flavored Hamentaschen. Whoa.

  • March 1, 2013 at 2:00 am: Sandy

    I will definitely try your recipe! For the filling in my hamantashen, I usually simmer some dried California apricots in water for about 15 minutes and add a little bit of sugar. Then when cool, I puree it in a blender. It is better than any fruit jam, and I love when I have made too much and I get to use it on toast, etc!
    Thanks again for another great recipe!

    • March 1, 2013 at 5:42 am: IsaChandra

      That sounds good!

  • March 1, 2013 at 2:42 am: Krista

    Thanks for posting this recipe. I love these cookies with apricot filling. In my prevegan days, I discovered them at Whole Foods (of all places) and began to look forward their reappearance every spring. I think they are my favorite cookies!

  • March 1, 2013 at 4:50 am: Jill

    Weird, I also seem to remember a prune poppy seed mixture but my mother says no, two separate fillings. I think it was a result of stuffing one prune and then one poppy seed into my mouth in a gluttonous attempt to kill Hamen by eating his hat. Besides the awesome cookies, Purim was a chance to wear the princess costume from Woolworth one last time. To school. All day long.

  • March 1, 2013 at 2:19 pm: Kira

    Growing up, I always made hamentaschen with my grandmother. Her recipe was parve (no dairy, for the non-kosher crowd), but had eggs. While the rest of my family, like my grandmother, is not vegan, I am the designated cook of the grandchild generation, so I can’t wait to integrate this in my (not so) evil plot to gradually convert all of our family’s traditional recipes to a vegan version.

    If only I can make a vegan brisket, I think my work will be complete.

  • March 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm: JennO

    Thanks for the education and the tutorial type pictures (for all of us visual learners!) We are reading Night for our homeschool book of the month and incorporating Jewish traditions and holidays as an extension…and for fun. These will be a perfect accompaniment to our studies…and will count as Home Ec…yeah!

  • March 2, 2013 at 8:02 pm: luv what you do

    I love hamantaschen!
    I’ve never made them and can’t wait to get my hands on some!

  • March 9, 2013 at 8:19 pm: bookwormbethie

    oh yummy! can i use 2/3 cup veg or canola oil instead of 2/3 cup refined coconut oil???

  • March 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm: Jenny

    These were great. I had dried figs and black sesame seeds on hand, so I subbed them for the pruned and poppyseeds.

  • March 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm: Rachel-Emily

    I love you. And that’s so awesome that the vegan chef that I look up to most is as Jewish as I am!

  • March 15, 2013 at 7:22 pm: Rae

    I love this site the recipes are amazing. I missed the hamantaschen for this purim but will hopefully remember it for next year! There is a theory that the name comes from “Mohn taschen” which literally means poppyseed pockets, and therefore may have nothing to do with the villain from the Purim story. And as for purim being a “Jewish halloween”, on halloween people dress up and go from door to door collecting candy. On Purim, people dress up and go from door to door delivering parcels of goodies to others (mishloach manot)!

    To the commenter who wanted a vegan brisket recipe, there is an amazing one in Crescent Dragonwagon’s “Passionate Vegetarian”. The book itself is not purely vegan (though she gives vegan options for most of her recipes), but her seitan brisket is delicious. I cannot comment on how authentic it is as I have never eaten a real brisket, but my husband loves it and he loves brisket.

    • March 15, 2013 at 10:49 pm: IsaChandra

      Thanks for the brisket recommendation!

  • March 22, 2013 at 4:29 pm: Omaha Public Library

    Yum! These look tasty. And perhaps you’re more traditional than you think (with poppy seeds and prunes)! Wiktionary reads: “A traditional Ashkenazi three-cornered cookie eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim. The filling may be made from poppy seeds, prunes, nuts, dates, apricots, fruit preserves, chocolate, caramel, or cheese.”

  • November 17, 2013 at 9:03 pm: Sarah

    My grandpa is Slovak and we grew up with something that looks similar called rollicky (my grandma always pronounced it “rushkie” so it took me about a decade to find them outside my grandparent’s house). I about cried when I saw them at a Czech stall at the farmer’s market. The shape is different, but the crust and the poppy seed filling looks about the same. I wonder if the recipes share a common ancestor.

  • November 28, 2013 at 5:35 pm: Alexa

    Oh, I love you. I was in the jewish primary school, and I remember this cakes. Yum.
    We had also werid option where filling was made by putting a piece of Bounty candy bar in each cookie. Werid and damn sweet, but kind of nice. But bounty are not vegan (damn milk), and vegan coconut bars are expensive. I would love to see some cookies with this coconut-chocolate deliciousenss made from basic ingredients… Well, but maybe you need to by 10 yrs old to enjoy something so sweet and sticky? :P
    Oh my god, we had also a hadmaster who petedet not speaking polish. And we had distributors with water on every floor. And there was paper cups for it (and for kidush). “Kubeczek” means “a little cup” in polish, and our headmaster was screaming at us “don’t crunching of kubeczki!” xD Loool, poor lady.
    Cakes with poppyseed filling (or dessert made of poppyseed, fruits, nuts and cooked wheat grains) is traditional xmas food in Poland and other slovian countres, so this can be multicultural and multisesonal :P But you made me craving this werid, sticky hamantashen with bounty candy bars. I feel so nostalgic now!

  • March 15, 2014 at 6:49 pm: Lauren

    I just made these and they are great! The dough is perfect and I love the addition of fruit zest. It adds a really fresh and lovely flavor. Thanks for this recipe! Now all I have to work on is keeping my triangle shape. Some of them unfolded in the oven. ;)

  • March 16, 2014 at 4:34 pm: paula rothman

    of course i should have looked here firstwhen i neededa vegan hamantaschen recipe. how could i forget my felllow bklynite jewish vegan soul sister! outstanding. this will be today!!! thanks!

  • March 18, 2014 at 9:58 pm: Jodi

    I made these for the first time two days ago, on Sunday. I got 30 or 32 cookies out of it because I overshot with the filling, and also some may have made its way into my mouth somewhere along the way, but that’s okay, I’m just one person, so 30 or 32 cookies should last me a long time, right?

    WRONG. They lasted 2-1/2 days. I had 20 in two days. Twenty. I gave 4 to my best friend, who raved over them. And today I ate the rest. I cannot even begin to tell you how YUMENTASCHEN these are. And how much fun I had making them, while wearing a vintage 1950s apron and trilling nonsensical songs to myself in my kitchen, much to the horror of my cat.

    I am a slender little zipper of a lady, and people have been known to tell me to “eat a sandwich” (which I can’t stand). Never mind the sandwich, people. I’ll take the hamentaschen.

  • March 5, 2015 at 2:55 pm: Ayelet

    Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made. I used sticks of butter-like substance thinking it would be the same as coconut oil. And of course I doubled the recipe, so what I have are a gazillion jam-covered biscuits.

  • March 9, 2015 at 3:37 pm: Lauren

    I have used this recipe two years in a row and love the taste and texture! One issue I have had both years is that the triangles unfold in the oven. I have tried overlapping them, pinching them, and using less filling, but they still won’t stick. Any suggestions?