Hamantashen Pocket Cookies

Hamantashen Pocket CookiesI realized, just this week, that I have been sending care packages for far longer than I had remembered. I was only thinking about college care packages. My daughter, my older child, went off to the wintery wonders of Iowa 6 years ago. I thought that was when my food-in-boxes obsession began, but I suddenly realized that I actually have been baking for mailing purposes for several decades.

Hamantashen Pocket Cookies

This Saturday, February 23, begins the Jewish holiday of Purim. It’s a great holiday filled with merriment; costumes, noise making, a story with an evil bad guy and a beautiful  queen who saves the day, and cookies. The three-cornered cookies are named after the bad guy, Haman, which is kind of odd because you would think there would be cookies named after the heroine of the story. Anyway, these cookies are named Hamantashen, which is a Yiddish word meaning Haman’s pockets. Traditionally, they are cookie pockets filled with prune or poppy seed filling. Non-traditionally they can be filled with anything.

Hamantashen Pocket Cookies

A Purim tradition is to give food baskets to friends and family, usually containing the hamantashen pocket cookies. No problem handing out goodies to my friends nearby, but my extended family lives all over the place. I have lived in St. Louis for most of my life. I came here for college (a long time ago), and except for quick detours to Chicago and New Jersey, basically stayed. None of my extended family live anywhere close. So when I wanted to bake hamentashen for family, the cookies had to be mailed. Apparently, long before the internet and blogging were twinkles in anyone’s eye, I was already taking notes on the art of mailable baked goods.

Hamantashen Pocket Cookies

At one point, I was mailing out close to 20 Purim goodie boxes. This year, though I only mailed out 7 boxes, one box (for my son’s fraternity house) contained 6 dozen pockets of deliciousness.

Hamantashen Pocket Cookies

Google the word “hamantashen” and you will find links to gazillion recipes. Some are traditional. Some are creative. Some are astounding. I thought about trying to develop something astounding, but decided to leave that to the professionals. Instead, I realized that the recipe I have been using for the last several decades, though not earth shaking, has it’s own special characteristics, not the least of which is that it’s delicious and everyone that eats one cookie, wants more.

Hamantashen Pocket CookiesHamantashen Pocket Cookies

Hamantashen Pocket CookiesHamantashen Pocket Cookies

I do not know the original source of this recipe. Many years ago, I taught at a school in New Jersey. My co-teacher used this recipe to bake with the kids because, though it is not easy toward the end, the recipe can be made without using a mixer. It produces a dough that bakes up soft and a little cakey. Though it contains orange juice, you can’t taste it in the cookie. The same batch of dough can be used with a variety of fillings. Additional flavors or extracts can be added to the dough if you prefer. These cookies are perfect for sending to far flung family and friends because they actually taste better over time. Quite tasty on day 1, these hamantashen taste even better on day 3. Stored at room temperature in an airtight container, we have enjoyed these pocket cookies for up to 10 days after baking.

Hamantashen Pocket Cookies

You certainly don’t have to be Jewish or celebrate Purim to enjoy hamantashen pocket cookies. Consider it exploring ethnic baking. Use one of my suggested fillings or be adventurous and try your own. Traditional hamantashen are not embellished but creative license allows for drizzling, dipping or sprinkling to your hearts content. (Just remember that if you are mailing these, any topping must set firmly. I personally prefer not to embellish the cookies I am mailing. )

Hamantashen Pocket Cookies

Hamantashen Pocket Cookies

(Printable recipe)

Makes about 26 cookies (using a 3 ½ ” circle cookie cutter)

Dough:

4 ½ + cups all-purpose flour (up to 1 extra cup is needed for flouring the rolling surface)

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

3 + 1 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup orange juice

 

Possible Fillings for 24 cookies:

Jam:  ½ cup

Chocolate-Caramel: ½ cup chocolate chips, ½ cup caramel bits

Reese’s Cups (or other round miniature chocolate candy): 24 mini candies, unwrapped

Topping (optional):

Chocolate Drizzle : 1 cup melted chocolate in a plastic bag with the  corner cut off

Chocolate Corner Dip: 1 cup melted chocolate in a small deep bowl

Stripes: 1 cup melted white chocolate in a plastic bag with the corner cut off, plus

sprinkles

  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer(or large bowl if mixing by hand) beat together 3 eggs, sugar, and oil until color lightens (about 2 minutes).
  • Add vanilla and orange juice, mixing until blended in.
  • Add dry ingredients. Mix until completely combined. Dough will be wet and soft (about the consistency of thick brownie batter).
  • Dump dough onto wax paper. Wrap. Chill for 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator or 20-30 minutes in the freezer.

            ***Important: see Baking Notes #1 below***

  • When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Liberally flour (about 2 heaping tablespoons) the rolling surface.
  • Working with ½ of the dough at a time, knead the dough on the floured surface,  adding more flour as needed,  just until the dough is smooth and no longer sticks to the counter surface.
  • Roll out (on flour dusted surface) to ¼” thickness. Use cookie/biscuit cutter or glass rim to cut out circles. ( Trimmings can be re-rolled )
  • Place ½ heaping teaspoon of jam filling, one candy piece, or about 12 chips, in the center of each circle. (This sounds like and looks like very little filling but it is plenty. Any more than this and the filling will erupt during baking)
  • Fold up edges to form triangles, pinching seams together.
  • Place pockets on prepared cookie sheet about 2” apart.
  • In small bowl, beat 1 egg for egg wash.
  • Brush egg wash over cookie surfaces, then wipe a finger dipped in egg wash over all seams. ***Important: see Baking Notes #2 below***
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until cookies are very lightly browned.
  • Cool on wire racks.
  • Optional: once completely cooled, embellish with chocolate drizzle or dip a cookie corner in melted chocolate or candy melts.
  • Store hamantashen in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.

***Baking Notes***

1. This is a moist and soft dough. Chilling is essential. The colder the dough, the less extra flour will be needed for rolling consistency. If the dough isn’t easy to work with, add more flour in small increments.

2. A very common problem in making hamantashen is the seams opening during baking (at which point all of the filling leaks out). This shouldn’t happen with this recipe for two reasons. First, it is a  very moist dough and the edges should mush together easily. Second, is the egg wash. The egg wash  creates a pretty shiny surface on the cookies but also  functions like glue on the seams, holding the edges together.

Packing tips: Cookies can be wrapped in pairs (with bottoms together) or singly in plastic wrap or placed 2 or 3 together into small zip lock bags. For maximum freshness place wrapped cookies or small bags of cookies into a larger zip lock bag or air tight container.

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29 thoughts on “Hamantashen Pocket Cookies

  1. Wendy, your hamentashen look so pretty, not to mention delicious looking. Thanks for the link to my blog! I had to laugh as I read your blog. I thought I was the only one to be making Canada Post and UPS wealthy by sending so many goodies to my loved ones so far away. Shipping treats is truly a labour of love, isn’t it? Happy and healthy Purim to you and your family!

    • Happy Purim! You aren’t kidding about the postal rates. I thought I would pass out when my first 4 UPS boxes weighed in at $48 (total). The love inside those hamantashen were worth a fortune I guess! I did make a batch with your cinnamon roll hamantashen filling (including your fantastic graham cracker tip) and they were delicious. :)

    • Thanks, Amanda! These hamantashen are a little different than the traditional cookie dough type. They are fluffy and cake like. Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. I hope you will give them a try. :)

    • Thanks, Reeni! We have definitely eaten our weight in hamantashen for the last few days :) These are kind of like a triangular cookie danish, if a danish had the texture of a cake. Hard to describe. You better just bake them to see for yourself :)

  2. These are amazing ! I’ve never thought of decorating hamantaschen : I always let them the way they are but that’s is so freaking cute and I might try it out next year !!
    The pictures are too beautiful !

    • Thank you so much, Sarah! Coming from you that is a HUGE compliment. I also usually leave hamantashen the way they are but just for fun and variety I gave decorating a try. Also, anyone who has tasted hamantashen knows how delicious they are, and the fact that they aren’t fancy to look at isn’t important. With the blog, I was hoping to appeal to those who had never tried hamantashen before and I suspected that cute sprinkles would be more attracting. I was pleased with how they came out :)

    • Thank you, Christine for your kind words. I’m glad you came by the blog! I think its so much fun to learn about and try new goodies :) If you decide to try the hamantashen , please let me know what you think.

  3. Oh I can tell that I would not be able to stop at just one of these cookies either! What a great post and fun information! Thanks for stopping by my blog so that I could find you. I am your newest follower on Facebook!

  4. Oh my goodness how cute are those hamantaschen!! I never thought about decorating them around the edges like you did with the sprinkles and frosting; adorable. I love your fillings, and i’m adding this to my list of hamantaschen recipes to try next year.

    • Thank you Shannon! After all your extaordinary hamantashen efforts this year, I would have thought you would be pleased to say,”Been there, done that!” Your homemade jam fillings were amazing! I don’t usually decorate my hamantashen. I glitzed them up this year for the blog, then liked the results.:) If you are interested, perhaps we can make a batch together next year. :)

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