With Purim comes the return of every Jew’s favorite (or most hated) cookie: the hamantash. The triangular-shaped cookie represents Haman’s hat, the villain in the Purim story. But think of hamantashen as a blank slate. Of course, the classic poppy seed and prune jam fillings can’t be overlooked, but sometimes you just want something new and exciting to bring to the table. Have some strawberries in the fridge that look past their prime? Turn them into strawberry rose jam and stuff it inside your hamantashen.
If you’re short on time, apple butter, any variety of jam or Nutella always make for reliably delicious hamantashen. Your creativity shouldn’t be limited to the filling either. If you’re planning on filling your hamantashen with apple butter, consider mixing cinnamon into the dough. Likewise, adding lemon zest to the dough can provide a bright contrast when filling with date, fig and cinnamon jam.
For a bright tang in contrast to the buttery dough, try filling your hamantashen with homemade lemon ginger curd this year. Watch out, the curd is so good it may not even make it inside your cookies.
Since March isn’t the best time for berries and other fresh fruit, dried fruits such as figs and dates make for a sweet filling that doesn’t need much refined sugar. Combined with orange zest and pomegranate juice, the filling adds a naturally sweet and Israeli-inspired element to the hamantashen spread.
Even though dough varieties for hamantashen range from traditional to gluten-free, savory to extra buttery, here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind: As with most great baked goods, nothing compares to the flavor and texture of using real butter. No matter what filling you choose, use about one-and-a-half to two teaspoons per three-and-a-half-inch-diameter cookie—and err on the safe side. Chill your dough and roll it out still a bit cold between two sheets of parchment paper, using as little extra flour as possible, in order to keep the pastry from becoming dry and tough.
Lastly, egg wash is the key to holding the cookies together and preventing the corners from collapsing. Be sure to brush the inside of the cookie with egg wash and then go over the outside walls and the sealed edge of the cookies once they’re folded, too.
Tender, buttery and filled with a jammy surprise in the middle, this year the hamantashen will be the star of your Purim party.