I have never made a batch of hamantaschen, those triangular cookies closesly associated with the Jewish holiday of Purim, and although I’ve always been familiar with them, I can’t clearly recall eating one before today. Traditionally filled with thick poppyseed paste, date, prune or apricot preserves, they could contain just about anything — I’ve come across versions filled with marzipan and sprinkles, Nutella, and hazelnuts and apricots with a browned butter cookie base. You could, in fact, fill these hamantaschen with just about any sweet filling that could be contained by the edges of the cookie and would stand up to the heat of the oven — fruit compote, sweetened cream cheese or pie filling.
Hamantaschen is like the cookie version of a galette, with sugar dough rolled and cut into circles, then folded over whatever filling you happen to come up with. (I used some blackberry jam from last summer, and some thick date filling I made in the same way I would to fill those date squares that look kind of like this. I’m thinking now that some cooked saskatoon pie filling would have been a fine choice.
These are made with a good, basic sugar cookie dough (shortbread dough is also popular, and I had some earlier today made with cream cheese dough), which you could flavour with some finely grated orange zest, and either way is easiest to work with right away – if you do make it ahead and it spends time in the fridge, make sure it comes back to room temperature to roll and shape, or it could crack more easily; if it does, don’t sweat it — just pinch the edges together, or leave any cracked edges to bake themselves back together in the oven.
Happy Purim, for those who will be celebrating it!