Last weekend, we had friends over for lunch. Now that in itself is not a biggie, we often have friends for lunch, as both my husband and I enjoy cooking food, but also eating it alongside company too. These friends however have 2 kids who, together with my gorgeous ‘Shark girl’ (more on this later), make up a fussy contingent of little people to have around for food and to keep happy. So cookies had to be on the menu. Hello hamantaschen, how happy I am to finally meet you.
For my first foray into baking hamantaschen, I used a dough recipe that I’ve found on Molly Yeh’s blog, which in turn is taken from Leah Koenig’s Modern Jewish Cooking. My Name is Yeh is one of the first blogs I followed, a couple of years back. It’s the kinda of place that you go to on a full stomach and leave hungry after scrolling through recipes for 4 hours, dreaming of perfectly decorated cakes and eggs.
This is a beautifully easy dough to work with, which is certainly a reassurance when trying something new. I made a small adjustment to the original recipe and added more flour than indicated – if you want to be sure, start with 315g of flour and work upwards by adding a tablespoon if the dough requires it. You’ll be able to see the dough going from sticky mass to supple pastry easily so don’t worry about being conservative on the flour.
My other amendment was on the filling. Quite often, hamantaschen are filled with jam and that’s totally something I’m down with. Shark girl, however? Not so much. I swapped jam for the filling I usually use for babka and it worked a treat – chocolate and nuts, how couldn’t it? However, I’d say jam is definitely on the list to try next, because it just sounds darn good.
For approx 35 – 40 cookies, you’ll need:
340g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp fine salt
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
60ml olive oil
130g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon lemon zest
To make the dough, mix together wet ingredients (orange juice, olive oil, vanilla bean paste, eggs) with the sugar and lemon zest.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix to combine.
Turn onto work surface and knead gently until dough comes together. It should appear smooth and supple.
Divide into 2 portions, flatten into discs and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
For the filling, you’ll need:
100g unsalted butter
190g caster sugar
120g dark chocolate (I use 70%)
40g dark cocoa powder
20g roasted pistachios + hazelnuts (or nuts of your choice), chopped finely
Melt butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
Remove from heat, tip sugar in and stir to dissolve.
Add the chocolate and cocoa powder and mix to combine.
Leave aside (not in fridge) to cool while you’re rolling the dough.
When ready to bake, preheat oven at 180C and line a baking sheet with parchment.
Remove one pastry dough from fridge. Flour your surface lightly, then roll out to 4mm thickness.
Using a cookie cutter, cut circles and transfer to baking sheet. Bring scraps together, re-roll and cut circles again.
Using the cooled down filling, spoon small blobs of chocolate mixture in middle of each cookie circle. Sprinkle nuts on top and pat down gently into the chocolate.
Pinch the sides up to form a triangle, then pinch the ends together to seal.
Bake for approx 15 mins (slightly more if making larger cookies). Remove from oven, leave to cool on baking sheet for 5 mins then remove to a rack and allow to cool. Be careful if testing while warm – chocolate mixture may still singe your taste buds.
*** Shark girl gets her name from the double row of teeth she’s grown, behind the wobbly-wobbly ones that are stubbornly refusing to fall. Yeap, we nicknamed our kid Shark girl.