How did hamantaschen come to be our traditional Purim cookie? Rabbinical explanations abound, involving hats, ears and so on. But we know this much: Hamantaschen owes its Yiddish name and three-cornered form to an 18th Century German dessert craze for dough filled with poppy seeds, called “poppy pockets,” or MonTaschen. To European Jews, Mon sounded awfully like Haman — the villain of Purim — so punny folks began calling them HamanTaschen and eating them as a Purim treat. By the turn of the 19th century, the nickname had gained such wide popularity that “hamantaschen” had simply become the cookie’s new name.
This Purim, try this simple and delicious hamantaschen recipe from our Jewish Federation’s international partner agency, The Jewish Agency for Israel. B’te-avon (bon appétit)!
5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups butter OR margarine OR shortening
3 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 12-ounce can of pie filling or jelly, any flavor you like
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix together butter (or margarine or shortening), and sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla extract and continue to mix until even. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and baking soda, and then gradually mix dry ingredients into the wet mixture to form an even dough.
Roll out the dough onto a flat surface, ¼ inch thick. Cut circles using a cookie cutter or the top of a glass with a 3-inch diameter. Place a teaspoon of the pie filling or jelly into the center of each circle. Fold three edges of the circles up around the filling and pinch corners to form a triangle. Space evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Yields about 50 hamantaschen.
Photo and recipe courtesy of The Jewish Agency for Israel.