Growing up, I remember looking forward to the Jewish holiday of Purim all year. This holiday occurs every year in the late winter or early spring, when the Jewish people get together to celebrate the story of being saved from Haman, a Persian Empire official who was plotting to kill all of the Jews in the empire. One of the best parts of this holiday for me was always the hamantaschen, the traditional triangular cookies that accompany it.
What is the Significance of Purim?
To celebrate Purim, my family and I would always go to the synagogue, where the rabbi would tell the entire story. Even though I knew the tale by heart, I was always drawn in by the rabbi's excitement and the heroic ending, when the Persian king's beautiful wife Esther and her cousin thwarted Haman and saved the Jews from being annihilated.
Although the story was always a key part of celebrating Purim, eating the hamantaschen that my mom made was even better. Hamantaschen are triangular cookies made every Purim. These cookies are made by folding in the sides of a circular piece of dough around a delicious filling, and then pinching the corners to make a triangular shape.
How Do You Pronounce Hamantaschen?
Hamantaschen is pronounced "huh-min-tah-shun," and in Hebrew means "Haman's ears," referring to the tradition of cutting off criminals' ears before they're executed. The symbolism behind these tasty cookies is up for debate, but most people agree that they're meant to represent the three-cornered hat that Haman wore.
These delicious and symbolic cookies are traditionally made from classic sugar cookie dough, and can be filled with anything you like. The most traditional fillings are apricot jam, strawberry jam, butter, prune, chocolate, peanut butter, and poppy seed filling. They can be made crumbly with oil, or softer and buttery when made with butter or cream cheese.
They can be stored in the fridge or at room temperature, and should always be wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container. They'll typically last about 5 days in the refrigerator, and slightly less at room temperature. If you've made too many to eat in that amount of time, it's best to freeze your Hamantaschen to enjoy them later. They last about 3 months in the freezer, and can be thawed at room temperature or in the fridge before eating.
Where Can I buy Hamantaschen?
To try this tasty Jewish sweet treat, you can go to a Jewish bakery. This map from My Jewish Learning shows where to buy the best hamantaschen in each state! If there isn't one near you, these bakeries listed at The Jerusalem Post will ship freshly baked hamantaschen cookies to anywhere in the United States. Unfortunately, most grocery stores won't carry hamantaschen, so a Jewish bakery is your best bet.
If you prefer to make your own to get the full hamantaschen experience, there are lots of simple recipes that bring this cookie to life! You can stick with the traditional fillings, or get adventurous and use any filling you think sounds tasty. Here are 7 hamantaschen recipes ranging from traditional to sweet to savory.
1. Classic Hamantaschen
If this is your first try at hamantaschen, it might be best to stick to the classic recipe to see how they taste when made traditionally. You'll need large eggs, granulated sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, orange juice, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and fruit preserves. Choose your favorite fruit preserves, or use a few different ones to figure out your favorite hamantaschen filling.
Get the recipe at All Recipes.
2. Cinnamon Bun
If you prefer to switch it up, these cinnamon bun hamantaschen are a delectable sweet version of this classic cookie, combining the flavors of hamantaschen and cinnamon buns. For the filling you'll need cream cheese, icing sugar, and vanilla extract. After rolling the dough out on a floured surface and cutting it with cookie cutters, you'll form the cookies. For the cinnamon bun flavor, you'll sprinkle on brown sugar and cinnamon and then drizzle icing on top for a yummy sweet treat.
Get the recipe at Kosher.com.
3. Carrot Cake
Another creative and sweet option is carrot cake hamantaschen. If you love carrot cake, you'll love this cake-themed variation! These contain shredded carrots and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, along with pecan bourbon resin filling and cream cheese frosting. Enjoy these sweet, carrot-y Jewish cookies.
Get the recipe at Melinda Strauss.
The chocolate option is what I would go for every time, and hamantaschen are no exception! For nutella hamantaschen, use creamy nutella as your filling in place of the fruit preserves you'd use traditionally. These are ideal if you like chocolatey, nutty flavors and want to switch it up with your hamantaschen recipe.
Get the recipe at Cooking With Carbs.
5. Cheesy Jalapeno Hamantaschen
Even though hamantaschen are technically a cookie, that doesn't mean you can't make them delectably savory. Cheese and jalapeño are always a tasty combo, whether you're having a giant pretzel or making a dip. These chewy jalapeño hamantaschen are filled with cheese and then topped with jalapeño pieces for a cheesy, spicy snack.
Get the recipe at Dini Klein.
6. Goat Cheese and Spinach
Another savory option is goat cheese and spinach hamantaschen. These have a Mediterranean flavor, containing goat cheese, spinach, fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes, and chopped kalamata olives. These are made for anyone who enjoys the salty, savory flavor of sun-dried tomatoes and olives along with the creaminess of goat cheese.
Get the recipe at Kosher.com.
These are just what they sound like, the amazing combination of pizza and Hamantaschen cookies. They're essentially mini pizzas that have been shaped into a triangular shape to symbolize Haman's hat. Use the classic pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese as the filling, or think even further outside the box by adding in the pizza toppings you like best, like pepperoni, olives or extra cheese.
Get the recipe at Proportional Plate.