Hamentaschen are cookies made for Purim — or really anytime you want a buttery cookie with tasty filling. Since the holiday commemorates Esther’s defeat of Haman, the cookies are (according to some traditions) shaped like Haman’s hat. Therefore, feel free to chant, “Haha, we ate your hat!” while eating. (THAT is NOT a generally accepted tradition, it’s just something my daughter started last year.) It’s likely that the pastry existed (as montashn) before the hat idea, and then one day somebody said, “Hey, these cookies look just like a hat,” and things snowballed from there.
Hamentaschen can be filled with pretty much anything sweet; apricot, raspberry, or prune jam are some of the most common. But I like to make mine with poppy seed filling, because it’s one of the few recipes that call for more than a light sprinkling.
Poppy Seed Filling
1 cup (250 ml) poppy seed
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1 oz. (30 g) butter
2 tbsp. (30 ml) honey
1 tart apple, grated
Bring poppy seed and milk to boil, add butter and honey, and boil until thick. Cool, then add grated apple.
– via jewishappleseed.org, which also has a recipe for the cookie dough
You can also make poppy seed filling for strudel, or probably any cake or cookie that would usually have a fruit jam filling. It’s probably not for everyone, but it’s worth trying.
The ingredients are pretty simple, aside from ONE WHOLE CUP of poppy seeds. (You WILL test positive for opiates if you eat this, FYI…)
One reason I like this picture is because it shows a strong contrast between how I prep ingredients (get something out, measure it, put main container away), and how Buzz preps ingredients (get everything out, measure it… take a picture). It is one of the rare areas of life in which he is more disorganized than I am.
Pouring honey onto melting butter is just pretty.
And after everything boils and congeals for a while, it begins to look kinda weird. Actually, it begins to look like various volcanic formations in central Oregon, such as the land around Lava Butte.
We had a very, very nice vacation around Bend one summer. It’s fun to trek around the rocky, lumpy, bizarre landscape, and then picture the same trip if you were a pioneer in a covered wagon and the National Park Service hadn’t gotten around to putting in sidewalks yet and you didn’t have an air-conditioned hotel to return to — it’s quite likely you would have thought you were literally in hell. (Lava Butte photograph from US Geological Survey.)
Anyway, we were talking about cookies.
To make the triangle shape, roll out the cookie dough and cut it into circles. Any diameter is fine, although smaller cookies will hold less filling. Then, fold up the three sides so there is a sort of cup around the filling, and pinch/squish the corners closed. Make sure you can see the filling through the middle.
These really are delicious cookies, whether you make them with poppy seed goo or other sweet filling of choice.