I discovered Hamantaschen while looking looking for a recipe for Lekvar to make for this pumpernickel bread recipe. After making the bread, I had about a cup of Lekvar left, which meant I had to make these cookies, right?
What is Lekvar, you ask? It's a Hungarian fruit spread made from dried fruit, typically prunes or apricots, and it is usually used in pastries and cookies.
How about Hamantaschen? They are traditional Jewish cookies served to celebrate Purim.
The dough for these cookies is really buttery and a little sticky, and I had to use both a dough scraper and many sprinklings of flour while working with it. I also used a thin cookie spatula to lift the cut cookie dough circles off of the counter top to get them to the baking sheets. I toyed with rolling the dough out between sheets of wax paper, but even though this dough was melty, it was still pretty manageable in a weird way.
The trick is to roll the dough out as thinly as possible but not so thin that the filling leaks out while they bake. Your filling also needs to be thick enough so that it stays put while the cookies are in the oven.
I took some of these cookies to work and placed a sign next to them saying "butter cookies with plum jam" (I knew better than to use the word "prune"), and they were a huge hit. I kept hearing "wow, these are really good."
I'm not sure I would have tried these if I did not have the leftover Lekvar, but I am really glad I did. I can't wait to experiment with different fillings and work on my folding and shaping skills. To see instructions on how to fold Hamantaschen (and some photos of perfectly shaped cookies), visit this post from Shiksa in the Kitchen.
Hamantaschen with Prune Lekvar
Lekvar Prune Filling
1 1/2 C pitted prunes
2/3 C water
1 tsp lemon zest
3 T orange juice
1/3 C brown sugar
- Place the prunes, water, lemon zest, and the orange juice in a small saucepan and simmer for about 30 minutes, covered, until most of the water has been absorbed.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the brown sugar. Mash the ingredients while stirring to create a puree.
- Refrigerate. The Lekvar will keep for several weeks.
Slightly adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen
3/4 C unsalted room temperature butter, sliced
2/3 C sugar
1 room temperature egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest or 1/4 tsp orange oil
10.2 (2 1/4 C) unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
a few drops of water if needed
- Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and cream for several minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg, vanilla, and orange and beat until fully blended.
- Sift the flour into the bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and mix on low until a dough is just formed.
- Briefly knead the dough by hand to form a ball. If it's too dry, add a bit of water, but be careful not to add too much. I did not add any.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and place the dough on top. Form it into a disk and wrap it with the plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface.
- Lift up the dough, re-flour the work surface, and roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick.
- Cut the dough with a 3 inch round cookie cutter and place the rounds on the baking sheets. Re-roll the dough scraps and cut into more 3 inch rounds.
- Place a teaspoon of filling in each round, and fold the dough into triangles, folding three "sides" over each other (see these instructions).
- Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 20 minutes. Cover the waiting baking sheet with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.
- Cool the cookies on a rack.
- These cookies will stay fresh for a few days if kept in a sealed container.