Hamantash (singular) was originally known as Mohntash in Germany, translating directly as poppy seed pockets. These crumbly, buttery pastries filled with black paste have existed since the Middle Ages, yet somehow, their identity was adapted by the Ashkenazi Jews and became a popular cookie celebrated at Purim.
The Megillah of Esther (Book of Esther), is a series of scrolls written by the heroes of the events of Purim. Purim is celebrated at the end of February and beginning of March to symbolise the triumphant overthrow of Haman, the Prime Minister of the Persian Empire (4th Century, BCE) who convinced the King to kill thousands of Jews. The Jews retaliated, Haman was hanged and now Purim symbolises that defeat every year. It is celebrated with costumes, gift giving and of course, lots of food.
The triangular pastries symbolise a variety of things - depending on who tells the story. Hamantaschen in Hebrew translates to "Haman's Ears" which were apparently cut off before he was hanged. The three points of the crumbly cookie possibly represents the Fathers of Judaism - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob maybe it just represents the shape of Haman's hat.
With a wonderful story and an even more amazing taste and texture, Hamantaschen, in my eyes should be tried and eaten all year round. Traditionally filled with Mohn, a poppy seed paste - you are most welcome to add your own spin using a thick jam, Nutella or even try a savoury filling.
I made my Hamantaschen slightly larger than they traditionally are (because I'm greedy like that)..... I hope you enjoy biting into this Purim cookie which has a wonderful story behind it!
Makes 16 large pastries (about 10cm in size)
Preparation Time: Overnight preparation of Mohn
and 40 minutes preparation for the pastry
Baking Time: 10-12 minutes
Sweet Pastry Dough
500g plain flour
Pinch of fine salt
200g white caster sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
230g unsalted butter
Zest of 1 lemon rind
½ tsp vanilla extract
Cream the butter, salt, sugar until pale and then add the lemon rind
Whisk the eggs, cream and vanilla in a small bowl and add slowly to the butter mixture
Gradually add the flour and baking powder to the wet mixture and incorporate until combined. Make sure you do not over work the dough.
Wrap in cling film and allow to chill in the refrigerater for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Mohn – Poppy Seed Paste
160g black poppy seeds
1/8 cup/45g unsalted butter
¼ cup/65g brown sugar
½ cup/160g milk
1 medium egg
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Blend the poppy seeds until fine
Melt the butter, honey, sugar, salt and milk in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved and turn off the heat
Whisk the egg in separate bowl
Add about 100mls of the liquid in to the egg and whisk together
Slowly add this mixture back into the saucepan and whisk until combine
On a medium heat, whisk the mixture constantly until thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
Add the ground poppy seeds and mix until combined
Allow to cool and place in the refrigerator overnight.
2 tblsp milk
Preheat the oven to 180’C
On a floured surface, roll out the pastry until about 5mm thick.
Cut out circles of pastry using a 10cm cookie cutter
Brush the outside of the pastry discs lightly with water and place a tablespoon of the poppy seed paste in the centre of the disk, flatten it out slightly
Fold the pastry edges over the sesame seed paste, to form a triangle shape. The corners of the pastry should overlap and be pinched slightly together
Place on a tray lined with baking paper
Brush the pastry with egg wash and place in the oven
Bake for 10-12 minutes until the pastry is golden.
Allow to cool slightly before enjoying with a hot cup of coffee!