Hamantaschen 101
Photo: Tina Wasserman
Dairy, Pareve and Vegan Hamantaschen

By Tina Wasserman

Did you really think that last week’s Pretzel Hamantaschen would be the only recipe I would share with you? Well, think again. This time I will try to meet your needs for recipes — dairy, pareve and vegan — and give you tips for shaping the prettiest, most delicious hamantaschen.

You might have your family’s favorite recipe and not need mine but I think my tidbits will help you create beautiful, flaky pastries. I am sharing three fillings for you to try if you can’t find the right canned varieties in the store. Instead of listing Tina’s Tidbits at the end of each recipe, here is a list of dos and don’ts starting from the preparation to the eating.

Tina’s Tidbits:

  • Most dough recipes can be madewith gluten-free flour but you might have to add a tablespoon or so of liquid to prevent dry dough.
  • You will notice in the photo that one type of dough is a little rough and cracked in some places; this happens when your recipe calls for baking powder. I prefer to incorporate more air into the fat-and-egg mixture before adding the dry ingredients; this keeps the dough smooth, light and flaky.
  • Adding confectioners’ sugar to your dough instead of granulated sugar will produce a smooth, crisp, but not hard, finished product. However, use my recipes as a guideline for quantity if you are thinking about converting your recipe.

A word about types of fat and don’t shoot me!

  • When using butter, always use unsalted butter.
  • When using coconut oil, use refinedcoconut oil unless you want a stronger coconut flavor in your dough.
  • Neveruse whipped margarine for baked goods. The air changes the volume of fat that you are actually using and there is more water in it, so it will change the consistency of your dough and make it much harder to roll and shape.
  • Crisco — take the shocked look off your face! Crisco was the No. 1 food that helped Jewish immigrants in the early 20th century assimilate into American culinary culture. Since lard couldn’t be used to make a light, flaky pie crust, Crisco could and it made the dish pareve, so an apple pie could be eaten at the end of a Shabbat chicken dinner. As of October 2022, Crisco no longer contains trans-fat but it still makes the crispiest, flakiest cookie dough, so I created this recipe for those who don’t want animal fat.
  • Oil can often be used in a baked dough but the finished product is denser and harder than it is crisp. However, you might have a family recipe that calls for it and if you like it, don’t change the ingredients.
  • When rolling out your dough, sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on your work surface, NOT flour. Confectioners’ sugar is 3% cornstarch and that will prevent sticking, so any sugar that gets pressed into the dough will not make the cookie dry but will enhance the golden color of the finished product.
  • Cover your dough with plastic wrap or a piece of parchment paper before rolling. If flour or more confectioners’ sugar is sprinkled on top of the dough to prevent sticking to the rolling pin, it will also prevent the hamantaschen from sticking to each corner when being shaped. The result will be the dough opening during baking. They might taste good but they will look more like tacos!
  • The filling should be dense and contain little moisture. If not making your own, I suggest using Solo canned fillings or pie fillings. NEVER use jelly unless you like hollow hamantaschen with a sticky mess on your cookie sheet. If you want to use jam then make sure the first ingredient listed is fruit, not sugar.
  • Last, but not least, raw dough freezes well, baked hamantaschen freeze well, but unbaked, shaped hamantaschen don’t freeze well and will open up when baked.

Dairy Hamantaschen Dough and Two Fillings

  • 1¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten well
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Grated zest of ½ lemon
  • Additional confectioners’ sugar for rolling dough
  1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the container of a processor.
  2. Cut the butter into 8 pieces and place in the work bowl with the flour. Pulse the processor on and off until the butter is incorporated enough to make the mixture look coarse and crumbly.
  3. Combine the egg, vanilla and lemon zest and add to the flour mixture. Pulse the processor on and off until the dough barely begins to form a ball.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and refrigerate for 15 minutes while you make the filling or until ready to use. Dough can be frozen.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough, which is covered with a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper, 1/8 inch thick on a surface that is dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Cut dough into 2- or 3-inch circles.
  6. Put a scant teaspoon of filling in center of dough and, using your thumbs and forefingers, shape cookies into triangles. Make sure edges are pinched together well.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until golden.

Prune Filling

  • 1 pound soft, pitted prunes, about 45
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Zest of ½ lemon, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a processor work bowl and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Mohn Filling

  • 2 cups ground poppy seed (about 6 ounces)
  • ¾ cup milk, or almond or coconut milk
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • Grated zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan EXCEPT the egg and vanilla and cook for 15 minutes until mixture is thick and fairly dry.
  2. Add the egg, which was beaten with the vanilla, to the poppy mixture and cook another 3 minutes or until the mixture is thick. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Hamantaschen Dough (Pareve)

  • ½ cup filtered coconut oil
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of ¼ of a large orange
  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • Filling of your choice, canned or homemade
  • Confectioners’ sugar for rolling out dough
  1. Cream the coconut oil and sugar on high speed until well combined. Scrape down side of bowl. Add the egg, vanilla and orange zest and mix until light and fluffy.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a 1-quart bowl. Add half the flour and stir until almost incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add half the orange juice and mix on low until combined.
  3. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and the remaining orange juice until a soft, smooth dough is formed. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or longer before rolling out.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness on a board or smooth surface that is lightly covered with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into 2½-inch circles.
  6. Place 1 scant teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle and 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 dough well to securely enclose almost all of the filling. A little should peek through the top of the opening.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees on parchment-lined cookie sheets for 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Makes 4 to 5 dozen.

Vegan Hamantaschen

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup Crisco or vegan butter
  • 1 5.3-ounce container vanilla coconut nondairy yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • Zest of ¼ large orange, about 1 teaspoon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (not kosher salt)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Confectioners’ sugar for rolling out dough
  1. Cream the sugar and the Crisco, using an electric stand or hand-held mixer, until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  2. Add the yogurt, orange juice, zest, vanilla and nutmeg to the bowl and mix until well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  3.  Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low until the dough begins to form a ball. Don’t overmix.
  4. Gently shape dough into a thick pancake, cover completely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least ½ hour or until needed but no more than overnight.
  5. When ready to make your hamantaschen, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Place dough on a smooth surface dusted with confectioners’ sugar and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  7. Roll dough to 1/3- to ¼-inch thickness. Cut into 2-or 3-inch circles using a cookie cutter or a glass.
  8. Place a small spoonful (about ½-¾ teaspoon) of filling in the center of each circle. Place your thumbs at 6 o’clock and your forefingers at 10 and 2 and bring them together to form an equilateral triangle. Pinch the edges together all the way, not just the tips.
  9. Place shaped dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Cool completely before storing or freezing.
  10. Yield: about 18-24 hamantaschen, depending on size

Homemade Hazelnut Spread

  • 2 cups whole, peeled (and, ideally, already roasted) hazelnuts, about 9 ounces
  • 2/3 cup packed confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Extra Dark)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, preferably Adams Best Flavoring
  • 1/3 cup refined coconut oil, melted
  • 1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ of a 4.4-ounce Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar or ½ cup milk chocolate chips (see Note 1 below)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. If you can’t find already roasted hazelnuts, then roast the nuts on a rimmed cookie sheet until very fragrant but not dark. If the skins are on the nuts, immediately wrap them in a clean dish towel and then rub them in the towel to remove as much of the skin as possible (some remaining skin is OK).
  2. Place the nuts in a food processor or a strong blender (like a Vitamix) and process/blend until the nuts are very fine or even beginning to look like butter. This could take 3 or more minutes with stopping your machine of choice occasionally to scrape down the sides of the container.
  3. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and coconut oil to the nuts and process until combined.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the chocolates in a microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval to combine, until the chocolate is melted.
  5. Add the melted chocolate to the nut mixture and pulse until all the ingredients are well mixed and the sauce is thick and uniform and creamy.
  6. If you want the sauce to be free of any lumps, then pass it through a strainer using a rubber spatula to press down on the mixture and a CLEAN spatula to scrape the outside of the strainer of the strained sauce.
  7. Store in clean jars in your pantry and enjoy.

Yield about 1½ cups of “Nutella”

NOTE 1: To make this filling vegan, just use 2 cups of pareve, semisweet chocolate chips instead.

NOTE 2: It is best to store this in a pantry away from heat because refrigeration would make it difficult to spread and constant reheating in a microwave oven would make the mixture very dry and crumbly after a while.

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