When Rhineland Jews moved east to Poland, Russia, and Hungary, they brought the hamantaschen tradition with them. The Jews remaining in Western Europe, however, made gingerbread men to represent Haman and enjoyed gobbling off his head! Here’s a dough that is firm but light, because of the baking powder.
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
Filling of your choice, canned or homemade
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line unrimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until thoroughly combined.
- Add the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract, and beat until lighter in color and fluffy.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix just until the mixture starts to hold together.
- Very gently knead the dough on a lightly floured surface about 10 strokes or until the dough is smooth and holds together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (preferably for 30 minutes or more).
- Roll the dough out on a board that is lightly covered with flour or confectioners’ sugar. Note: The sugar will slightly glaze the baked cookie and make it a little sweeter.
- Cut the dough into 2 1/2-inch circles, and place 1 scant teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle.
- Shape into triangles by using your thumbs to push up from the bottom of the circle and your forefingers to pull down from the top sides. Pinch the top seams of the dough well to securely enclose almost all of the filling. A little should peek through the top of the opening.
- Pinch the dough together so that the filling is exposed only at the top of the cookie.
- Bake the hamantaschen in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until golden. Store in a plastic bag or container when cool, or freeze for later use.
Filling recipes: Chocolate, Prune, Poppy Seed
- Do not overwork the dough when kneading it or you will toughen it and the hamantaschen will be heavy.
- Do not substitute salted butter for unsalted butter in this recipe. The salt in butter can dry out the dough.
- Do not use extra large or jumbo eggs. Use only large eggs.