Hamantaschen - Buttery Poppy Seed Pockets

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!

 

THE RECIPE

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

 

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Sweet Pastry Dough

500g plain flour

Pinch of fine salt

200g white caster sugar

1.5 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

230g unsalted butter

Zest of 1 lemon rind

3tblsp/25g cream

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

100g honey

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.

 

Egg Wash

1 egg

2 tblsp milk

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Assembly

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!

 

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