Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Best Hamantaschen Recipe Bar None

My mom's recipe for hamantaschen, developed in California and then adapted by five daughters and daughters-in-law, is the best recipe any of us have ever used or eaten. It’s soft-baked, it’s incredible and best of all, it's impossible to mess up. This is one of those recipes that’s endlessly adaptable and utterly reliable. For example, some of us add a teaspoon of cinnamon for a spicy kick, and another replaces half the liquid with lemon juice for a subtly tart burst.  We've added extra eggs by accident to no ill effect ,and made the cookies successfully in varying climates and elevations. To make this recipe even more legendary, my cousin Jennifer Gage reports that last year she was able to make the hamantaschen successfully and deliciously on top of a wood stove in the middle of a blackout/blizzard. No one who has ever used my mom's recipe has ever not passed it on to others, to our knowledge. We invite you to enjoy it and share it; My mom Ruth Book is famous for her hamantaschen, and now you will be too!

And don't just take my word for it! The recipe this year won the Jerusalem Post's hamantaschen recipe contest. The recipe was made by Zohar Friedman, the social media editor, with lemon zest and raspberry filling, and enjoyed in the Jpost's offices on Purim day 2013! Please note that no one in my family was remotely surprised by this win. 

This recipe yields approximately 40 cookies. 


4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons milk, rice milk or water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup of your favorite filling


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Cream together margarine and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Add dry ingredients to the egg mixture with the mixer on low, alternating with water or rice milk.

5. Chill the dough for 1 hour to overnight (this step can be skipped if you're in a rush, cold dough is just easier to handle), then roll out with flour sprinkled below and above the dough, to 1/4 inch thickness, and using a water glass or round cookie cutter, cut into 2-inch rounds.

6. Fill each round with 1 heaping teaspoon of your favorite filling, and draw up sides for triangle.

7. Seal edges with cold water.

8. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-14 minutes. Reduce your oven temperature if the dough begins to burn on the bottom. It is very common that ovens run hot, especially if you are baking in batches and the oven has been on for multiple hours. I use an internal oven thermometer for this reason.  

9. To keep hamantaschen soft, store in airtight containers.