The Jew And The Carrot

Hamantaschen Get a Makeover

By Molly Yeh

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photos by Molly Yeh

When I was a kid, hamantaschen came in two varieties: poppyseed (what the sophisticated grown-ups ate) and fruit. It didn’t matter what kind of fruit, it all tasted the same — overly sweet and sticky, and most importantly, difficult to scrape out with a spoon in order to get to the goods — the sugar cookie that encased it.

These days, the internet is bursting with wild varieties of hamantaschen: gummy bears and dulce de leche are tucked into dough, and a trend of savory hamantaschen has resulted in fillings like balsamic caramelized onions and roasted lamb with pine nuts.

I want them all. And what do you expect from a holiday that has basically one distinguishing food item? It’s not like Hanukkah, when anything fried is fair game, or Passover with all of its matzo brittle and macaroons. Purim gets booze, costumes and hamantaschen. And I’d just like to say that I’m proud of Jewish bakers everywhere who have refused to submit to culinary boredom when it comes to this holiday.

Last year, I gave my two cents to this hamantaschen craze with a black sesame filling and a savory gruyère filling. This year, I’m giving you two more: The first is filled with red bean paste, a popular ingredient in Asian desserts. Made from adzuki beans (which you can find at Asian grocery stores), it has almost a peanut butter quality. The second hamantaschen is inspired by the oatmeal pie at the Brooklyn bakery Four & Twenty Blackbirds: Imagine an oatmeal cookie wrapped in a hat of sugar cookie, it’s hamantaschen heaven. You will never think about scooping out the filling again.

Dough

(Based on Betty Doman’s hamantaschen, courtesy of Anne Schulman)

2 sticks butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
a pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, cream cheese, egg yolk, and salt on high until combined. Add flour, half a cup at a time, until it comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.

Red Bean Filling

1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
a big pinch of Kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar

Soak adzuki beans overnight in cold water. Drain, rinse, and transfer to a large pot. Add salt and just enough water to cover the beans, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about an hour, or until the beans are very soft, adding more water as necessary to keep the beans covered. When the beans are soft, raise the heat to medium and gradually stir in the sugar. Stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken. Transfer to a container, cover and let it cool completely in the fridge.

Oatmeal Filling

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of Kosher salt
a pinch of ground ginger
1 cup all-purpose flour
3⁄4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on high, cream together the butter and sugar until pale in color and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla on medium speed. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, ginger, and flour. Add that to the wet ingredients and beat to combine. Use a spoon or spatula to mix in the oats and chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Assembly

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) To assemble the hamantaschen, work with half of the dough at a time (the other half should stay wrapped in the fridge) and roll it out to 1/4 inch on a surface that has been dusted with powdered sugar.

3) Cut into 3-inch circles (turning a glass upside down is a good way to do this), place two teaspoons of filling in the center, moisten edges with water, and pinch into a three-cornered shape.

4) Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through. Let cool and dust with powder


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