Cookies Beyond My Sweetest Dreams: Hamantaschen

When I first got Rose Levy Beranbaum's book The Baking Bible, I flipped through the entire cookbook, looking at the gorgeous full-page photos and marking recipes for my to-bake list. One photo that caught my eye was a close-up of some rugelach and hamantaschen. I made a mental note to return to the hamantaschen recipe for Purim.

Beranbaum calls her recipe "the hamantaschen of my dreams with dough that is tender, slightly flaky, very buttery, and vanilla imbued." You make the cookie dough in the food processor by processing turbinado sugar until fine; adding cold butter followed by flour; and incorporating a mixture of egg yolk, cream, and vanilla. The dough was a pile of crumbs, but the recipe instructs you to dump the crumbs into a plastic bag and press the dough until it holds together. Then you knead the dough a few times until smooth and chill it for at least 30 minutes before rolling. I kept my dough in the fridge for about 36 hours.

I decided to make a double batch of cookies and so I also made two different fillings. First, I made Beranbaum's apricot levkar, which is dried apricots simmered in water until soft, and then processed with sugar and lemon zest until smooth. The recipe also calls for a bit of apricot or peach brandy, and I put in a dash of whiskey instead. The levkar was incredibly delicious -- bright and flavorful and super fruity.

I also made the poppy seed filling provided with the hamantaschen recipe. You grind poppy seeds; add the seeds to hot milk; and stir in some sugar, honey, lemon zest, and a little apricot levkar. Once I had both fillings ready, I also made some egg wash (egg yolks that are thinned with milk and put through a sieve) and then I was ready to assemble the cookies. I rolled out the chilled dough, cut out circles using a fluted 2.75-inch cutter, and brushed egg wash around the edge of the circles. Then I put a dollop of filling in the middle of each cookie and folded up the sides to make the triangular shape. The egg wash really helped cement the dough together, and I also brushed egg wash on the outside of the cookies. Then I chilled the formed cookies for about 30 minutes before baking.
The cookies did not brown much in the oven despite the coating of egg wash. The recipe also instructs you to brush a little apricot levkar over the poppy seed filling after the cookies are cooled, but I skipped this step because I didn't want the tops of the cookies to be sticky.

These are indeed the hamantaschen of my dreams. The pastry is so tender and buttery -- I felt like I was eating a miniature fruit tart more than a cookie. The cookies were simply lovely. I preferred to the apricot filling to the poppy seed, but the poppy seed cookies were the first to go with my tasters. I do wish that I had either cut larger circles of dough or used less filling, so that the sides of my cookies covered the filling a bit more. Still, I thought that the cookies were beautiful, and none of the corners popped open during baking. I was so sad when the last cookie was gone. I would absolutely make these again, any time of the year!

Recipe: "Hamantaschen" from The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, recipe available here.

Previous Post: "Telly Monster Would Approve: Hamantaschen," March 7, 2012.


Louise said…
These look yummy. I checked "Rose's Christmas Cookies", but that was printed 25 years ago so no recipe. It's available at along with some short cuts from Rose Levy Beranbaum.
Ah, thanks for the link -- I'll update the post (and that's the same photo as the one in the cookbook)!