Hamentaschen with Strawberry Balsalmic and Chocolate Tahini Fillings
As I devote myself fully to watching the Olympics for exactly 3.5 hours every single night, I am also thinking about the Jewish holidays right around the corner.
Purim is a holiday commemorating the triumph of the Jewish people over an evil politician named Haman, as recorded in the Book of Esther. Celebrating Purim involves listening to the reading of the scroll of Esther, donating to charity, and a number of other practices. It also, crucially, involves eating hamentaschen, triangle cookies with a filling. Traditionally, hamentaschen (so named for the story’s villain, Haman, and his triangle hat, which I just realized is likely apocryphal) are a crumbly cookie with a jam or poppy seed filling.
These recipes, inspired by my favorite fillings as a child, are a combination of sweet and savory, cutting the often overly-sweet jam and chocolate fillings with a little bit more depth of flavor. What makes these hamentaschen so fun is that they’re soft, flavorful, and not too dry. There are three components––the dough, the rolling out, and adding the filling––but each individual component (especially the fillings) are fairly easy and the dough only uses one bowl. As an added bonus, people will be extremely impressed that you made your own fillings.
Sidenote––as you may notice from the different background in the pictures, I moved. I’m now living on the Upper West Side, and have a kosher kitchen for the first time. The main downside is more limited cooking space, and no dog!
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Add lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 - 4 cups flour
Strawberry Balsamic Filling :
1 cup diced strawberries
¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Chocolate Tahini Filling
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup tahini (you can use more if you prefer the flavor a little bit stronger!)
Before I started cooking, I put on the new reboot of Queer Eye, but I recommend putting on your comfort show of choice and trying to figure out a Purim costume that’s recognizable, vaguely Jewish, and clever enough that you don’t feel boring.
Cream the sugar, butter, and cream cheese together in bowl. If you have a stand mixer or hand mixer, amazing! Mix on medium for several minutes. If you are like me and find yourself with only a wooden spoon and a deep sense of determination, mix the ingredients with said wooden spoon for 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is fully mixed and fluffy-ish.
Mix in eggs, stirring for a minute between each egg. Stir in vanilla.
Zest in lemon, pour in salt and cinnamon, and add in baking powder. Mix until fully incorporated.
Now it’s time to start mixing in the flour! Here’s where the recipe gets a little more subjective. The dough needs to be dry enough that it’s not too sticky or flimsy, and not so dry that it breaks when you bend it into the cookie.
Start with 2 cups of flour, then keep mixing until you have a not-sticky, not too dry consistency. You will likely end up using 3 cups of flour total.
Form into a slightly flattened disc and wrap in saran wrap. If you have time, put the dough in the fridge for a few hours to keep it from falling apart as you work with it. If you don’t have time, you can absolutely put it in the freezer for 30-40 minutes or so.
These sound slightly fancy but are actually extremely easy.
Take out a medium saucepan and put in all your ingredients. You can just simmer everything together as you add it in, stirring constantly. This filling has the tendency to stick to the sides of the pan, so keep stirring. Your filling will be done after 5-6 minutes of simmering. It’ll be much thicker, about half the original volume and a deep red. It should be intensely sticking to the wooden spoon.
Turn off the flame and remove from heat. You’ll definitely want this filling to cool down before trying to do any work with it.
Chocolate Tahini Filling
Either take out a double boiler or fashion your own with a medium-sized pot and a metal bowl that can withstand heat. Boil the water in the pot first, then put the bowl over it. Put your chocolate chips in the bowl and stir constantly until the chocolate is melted. This method keeps the chocolate from burning and becoming coarse.
Mix ¾ of the melted chocolate with the tahini until it has a consistent texture, then put in the fridge to solidify slightly.
The rest of the melted chocolate will be used for drizzling and dipping, so just keep in a slightly warm place near your cooktop, ready to go.Assembling the Cookies
Preheat oven to 375° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Forming the cookies is where things get a little tricky. Wiser people than I have made hamentaschen only to have them fall apart totally in the oven. The success lies in both this recipe’s inclusion of cream cheese––which gives these cookies a soft, yet moldable, consistency––and in the pinwheel folding method (as opposed to just pinching corners shut).
Roll out the dough on a well-floured cutting board or counter, or between two pieces of cling film, until it is about ¼ inch thick.
You can choose whatever size cookie cutter you want, but I wouldn’t recommend anything smaller than a 3 inch diameter or you won’t have room for a lot of filling. You can also just use the rim of a can of beans or chickpeas, or of a drinking glass. Using whatever cookie cutter method you’ve chosen, cut circles out of your dough.
Once you have your circles, put about a teaspoon of filling right in the center of each one. Fold two sides over first, one over the other. Then fold the third size so it’s all woven together like a pinwheel. (See photos.)
You can also pinch the corners shut after folding up three sides of the cookie, but make sure to put some water on your hands and make sure each corner is tightly sealed.
Put the finished cookies on baking sheet, aiming for a dozen per sheet. They do not spread out.
Let the cookies bake for 10-12 minutes––they’re done when the bottom is lightly browned. The corners may look darker than the rest of the cookie, and that’s totally fine! The consistency and taste is going to be great.
Once the cookies are slightly cooled, drizzle the remaining melted chocolate over your hamentaschen. I recommend this for both the strawberry balsamic and chocolate tahini, but definitely adhere to your personal preference!
Line a tray with parchment paper or wax paper, and put chocolate-drizzled hamentaschen on top before refrigerating for at least 20 minutes.
Enjoy! Bring them to a megillah reading, your office at any time of the year, or use them to soak up the alcohol you’re drinking.
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How to cite this page
Yelsey , Lisa . "Hamentaschen with Strawberry Balsalmic and Chocolate Tahini Fillings." 23 February 2018. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 21, 2018) <https://jwa.org/blog/hamentaschen-with-strawberry-balsalmic-and-chocolate-tahini-fillings>.