These fruit-filled cookies are named for Haman, the villain of the Book of Esther. To make a long and evil story short, Mordecai, kin to Esther, considered the Queen of the Jews in biblical times, refused to bow down to Haman, the Grand Vizier of Persia who – and this is key – wore a tri-cornered hat. Enraged, Haman plots to kill all the Jews. Esther and Mordecai learn of the plot, foil it, save the Jews and do away with Haman.
Every year, for the holiday of Purim, Jewish children commemorate Esther’s victory by reenacting the story, complete with noisemakers that are wound up every time Haman’s name is mentioned. And then, to celebrate the victory, there are these cookies, made with a soft, sweet dough, filled with jammy dried fruit and nuts and shaped like Haman’s triangular hat.
Maybe this is what is meant by ‘sweet revenge’.
A note on the filling: You’ll have filling leftover. If you’d like, you can cut the recipe in half, but I never do: the cooked fruits make a jam that’s great on toast.
This recipe comes from Dorie’s Cookies; photograph by Davide Luciano and food styling by Claudia Ficca.
From Dorie’s Cookies
Makes about 24
- For the dough:
- 2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2/3 cup (134 grams) sugar
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) canola (or peanut) oil
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- For the filling:
- 1/2 pound (226 grams) mixed dried fruit, such as apricots, prunes, figs, cherries and raisins, snipped or cut into small pieces
- About 3/4 cup (180 ml) orange or apple juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon jam, such as apricot, cherry or orange marmalade
- 1/4 cup (25 grams) sliced almonds or chopped walnuts
To make the dough: Whisk together the flour and baking powder.
Working in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the sugar, oil, egg, juice, vanilla and salt on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Turn the mixer off, add the flour all at once and then pulse to incorporate, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. What you’ll have will look more like a batter than a dough, but that’s fine. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for 1 hour, the time it takes for it to remind itself that it’s a dough.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, divide it in half and form each half into a disk; keep one piece in the refrigerator while you work on the other. Generously flour a piece of parchment paper, place the dough on it, flour the dough, cover with another sheet of parchment and roll it out to a thickness of 1/8 inch, not thinner and, if you can manage it, not much thicker either. Roll on both sides of the dough and peel away the papers a few times, so that you don’t roll the paper into the dough. Flour the surfaces, if needed – this dough is soft and sticky. Roll the second piece, stack one piece on top of the other on a baking sheet and freeze the dough for at least 2 hours (or, wrapped airtight, for up to 2 months).
To make the filling: While the dough is resting, put the cut-up fruit and juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft and the liquid has evaporated, about 12 minutes. If the liquid disappears before the fruit is soft, add a little more (the additional liquid can be water). Add the honey, jam and nuts and stir over low heat for about 3 minutes. Scrape the chunky jam into a bowl and cool to room temperature.
To fill and bake the hamantaschen: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Have a 2 3/4- to 3-inch round cookie cutter at hand.
Working with one piece of dough at a time (keep the other frozen – even after chilling, the dough will be very soft), cut out as many circles as you can. I find it easiest to transfer the rounds of dough to the lined baking sheet as they’re cut. (If you find the dough too soft to work with, just pop the circles back in the freezer for about 15 minutes.) For each cookie, place a heaping teaspoonful of filling in the center of the dough. Lift two sides of the cookie and pinch together the point where they meet. Lift the remaining side – think of it as flap – and pinch together the points where it meets the other two sides of the dough; you’ll have a triangle with a mound of filling peeking above the dough – think Haman’s three-cornered hat. (While this batch is baking, you can form the second batch – stow them in the fridge until the oven is free.)
Bake the hamantaschen for 15 to 17 minutes, rotating the sheet after 8 minutes, or until the cookies are deep brown around the edges and the pinched-together points and paler in the center. If you squeeze them gently, they’ll feel soft, so you have to go by color. Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes and then carefully transfer them to a rack to rest until they are only just-warm or reach room temperature.
Bake the second batch.
Storing: You can make the filling up to 1 week ahead and keep it in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. And the dough can be made, rolled out, wrapped airtight and stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. However, once filled and baked, the hamantaschen are best eaten soon after they come from the oven. If you want to keep them overnight, wrap them in plastic. The next day they will be softer, but still very good.