When I moved to South Florida, I discovered my love of Jewish food and pastries. I grew up in north Florida (Tallahassee) where there are really no Jewish delis or restaurants. A few weeks ago, it was Purim, a Jewish holiday where a traditional treat is Hamantaschen. At one of the delis we eat at often, they had an unusually large array of Hamantaschen, from the traditional poppy seed to prunes and apricot to an untraditional cherry. I usually get the apricot but this time had a cherry one, and was quite disappointed when I found the filling was almost definitely PIE FILLING! You all know the kind. Thick transparent cherry paste with those plastic like cherries mixed in. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed.

So… I set out to make Hamantaschen. I found many many different recipes. The dough recipes were so different I immediately became confused as to what a traditional Hamantaschen cookie was made of. Some had absolutely no sugar in the dough, others had copious amounts, similar to a sugar cookie. Some had butter, others had oil. The first recipe I made was extremely delicious and buttery, but (darn it!) as flat as a pancake. Not exactly what I was looking for. Then I got my mother in law’s recipe and that held up beautifully, but it had oil, and I usually prefer butter in my cookie recipes. So after a slight adaptation, here is my mother in law’s Hamantaschen Recipe. The filling is unbelievably yummy, almost brownie like… light years better than that pre-made cherry filling! Thanks Mom for such a great recipe!

Hamantaschen Recipe

2 eggs
4 oz sugar
Pinch salt
3 tbsp melted butter
almond extract
2 cups flour
1 recipe chocolate nut filling (see below)

1. Combine eggs, sugar and salt in bowl of heavy duty mixer. Whip with the paddle attachment until thick and frothy. With the mixer running on medium, add the melted butter in a thin stream until incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated

2. Add the flour in two parts, just until incorporated. Do not over mix. Wrap dough in plastic wrap for at least one hour, and up to a few days.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut circles with a 3 inch round cutter or drinking glass. I used a fluted cutter to make the edges more decorative. Place cut circles on a parchment lined sheet pan.

4. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the chocolate-nut filling in the center of each circle. Turn three sides of the dough up to form the traditional triangle shape. With your fingertip, spread a little water where the dough folds meet to help glue it together. Gently pinch the corners so they adhere. Do not use too much water, or the dough will get wet and mushy and stick to your fingers.

5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15-18 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes about 30 cookies

Note: I used the convection feature of my oven to bake the cookies, and they turned out very nicely. If you do this, make sure you rotate the pan halfway through to ensure even browning.

Note 2: I ran out of chocolate nut filling and used some apricot and raspberry preserves as filling. This is also very tasty!

Hamantaschen Filling

6 oz ground nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds or a combination)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 egg whites
3 oz sugar
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp Vanilla

1. Combine all ingredients and stir to incorporate. Refrigerate for at least one hour, and up to a few days. It should be the thickness of chunky peanut butter after refrigeration.

Note: I used half pecans and half almonds (what I happened to have in my pantry) and also added a little splash of almond extract with the vanilla.