The times that I’ve made Hamantaschen in the past have always been in an affectionate haste around my kitchen table, with my grandmother’s well-worn cookbook pinned down by two generations of elbows and floury fingers. My mother and I flutter around the kitchen in hazy swirls, looking for circle-cutting cylinders, inventive ingredients to ad lib as creative fillings, that ever-elusive rolling pin. Now that I’m away at college, I don’t have my grandmother’s cookbook and I most definitely do not have a rolling pin. I do have a computer and a book about making soup. You can guess which one comes in handy as Purim approaches.
I discovered something important this morning, as I typed “fun hamantaschen recipe” into my google search bar (sorry, Grandma): There are a million and one ways to make hamantaschen. Despite their inconspicuous status as the weird triangular cookies that sit next to the ovary-sized choco-chippies in the bakery shop window, hamantaschen are trending right now. Food blogs far and wide are taking swings in the who-can-be-more-creative-with-three-corners-and-a-filling battle. I’ve been waiting for this to happen to jelly donuts for years, but I’ll take what I can get. This year I suggest tackling your Purim seudah (and mishloach manot) with unprecedented zeal: Reach for the stars! Climb the mountain! Deep-fry your hamantaschen (we’ll get to that later)! Remember, what is life but a collection of stories that we will one day tell our grandkids? Don’t you want to be able to tell your grandkids you spent Thursday afternoon elbow deep in… baking flour and rolling pins? That’s what I thought.
I’m going to start our food porn tour the old fashioned way: Sugary and sweet, girl-next-door style. Everyone loves a sweet hamantaschen. For example, whenever I’m at a crappy continental breakfast, I always skip right over the yellowing eggs and go straight for that glass plate full of sugar-cracked danishes. Why? Because, despite their parched demeanor, once you pop one of those babies in that pre-19th century toaster oven (the steel one wading in a pool of its own stale breadcrumbs), and smear a little jam on your plate, they become alive. Boom. The day has begun. For all those out there who are on my page, I urge you to try your hand at this Sweet Danish Hamantaschen with Cream Cheese Filling and Poppy recipe that I happened upon. If you are more of a fruity cheese lover, than I would suggest a Ricotta Pomegranate Cream Cheese Hamantaschen option. Candy Cane Cheesecake Hamantaschen look equally delicious (though slightly less fruity). The photograph alone made my drool on my keyboard (which is why I included it above). Or, you can go back to basics and pair an elegant cream cheese dough with an equally luxurious Date Orange filling from my beloved food blog, epicurious.com.
Don’t worry Dad, chocolate options are up next. These Double Chocolate Hamantaschen that I found seem too good to be true (think dark chocolate dough with nutella filling). Take it up a notch on the sophistication ladder, and shoot for these lusciously pink frosted Neopolitan-styled Hamantaschen. If you have eight hours to spend in the kitchen, you can try your hand at these delectably complicated Girl Scout Samoa Hamantaschen (or you can just wait until its cookie-selling-season like everyone else). And finally, I’ll leave you with Hamantaschen with Ganache and Salted Caramel, because, as the author so proudly claims, “the salty and sweet thing is not over!”
If you want to go the more classic route, i.e. reference some form of fruit, I would steer you towards Gingerbread Hamantaschen with Spiced Apple Filling or the aromatic Pumpkin Whole Wheat Hamantaschen. For all you carnivores out there, don’t despair. I also found some mean looking Pareve Cinnamon Dulce De Leche Hamantaschen.
Now that we’ve explored every corner of CandyLand it’s time to turn our attention to the other side of the table: The savory. The art of a truly delicious savory hamantaschen is rare, at best. I remember when the “weird” family down the street included an XL-sized “pizza” hamantaschen in our mishloach manot, at a time when everyone else was doing chocolate chips and raspberry jelly. It looked gross and sat uneaten in our refridgerator for days. Oh, how I wish I could summon that neglected ‘tashen now and taste it’s abandoned contents.
I was very excited by JCarrot.com’s selection of savory recipes, ranging from onion and mushroom to feta, spinach, and kalamata. I also found a sophisticated recipe for Balsamic Red Onion Hamantaschen Bites (for the hors d’oevre lover in all of us), and, as an ode to that earlier self, the Perfect Pizza Hamantaschen option.
Or, you can scratch the whole appetizer thing and go for broke, with these Poppy Seed Hamantaschen Bagels (That’s right, a hamantaschen bagel. I had just had to say it twice. They recommend “filling” them with cream cheese and lox. Too good.)
The other two weirdest things I found? Deep Fried “Hanukkah” Hamantaschen (err, wrong holiday?) and Hamantaschen Truffle Pops (which calls for ingredients such as 25 Oreos and half a pound of cream cheese.)
My celiac friends, do not think I have forgotten you. You can enjoy the fun as well. Pick your favorite gluten-free filling from above, and pair it with TheVeeWord’s perfected gluten-free recipe. She professes to have spent 6 hours and 3 doughs on it, so I’m sure it won’t disappoint. You can also make dough trans-fat free here (and then heap in a double serving of this Pecan Pie Hamentashen filling).
And that concludes our salacious tour of titillating treats. I end on this note: What the fuck is a mojito hamantaschen?