Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

If you’ve made hamantaschen before — the three-sided, filled cookies baked for the Jewish holiday of Purim, which begins at sundown Saturday — you appreciate the mix-and-match opportunities inherent in the two main components: dough and filling.

The dough can be rolled thin to yield a tender crust, or thick to create a sturdy tricorner affair akin to Paul Revere’s hat.  (Read further here, for the Jewish hat/ear shape explanations.) The addition of cream cheese almost guarantees a flaky crust, while almond flour or finely ground almonds lends the nutty sweetness you’d expect from those ingredients. A tip: Roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap before its mandatory chill in the refrigerator; this will help the dough keep its shape as the cookies bake. Use a smooth-edged cookie cutter or a fluted one.

The filling used to fall into jammy-fruit or poppy-seed camps; a spin through social media these days turns up a giddy assortment of flavors, including halva, red bean-oatmeal, mojito (and its cocktail pals tequila sunrise and cosmo), red velvet, cheddar cheese-pepper jelly, caramelized banana and chocolate, sushi (okay, technically not in the same sweet ballpark), ganache and salted caramel, chocolate chip, rosewater-almond and strawberry-orange blossom. Check out frequent Food section contributor Vered Guttman‘s recipes for her 2014 versions: poppy seed-marzipan and apple-poppy seed.

If you’ve never made the pastries before, what are you waiting for? A hamantash is easy to make and hard to pass up. Plop a spoonful of filling at the center of a small, cutout disk of dough. Fold in left and right sides to form a point at the top. Fold up the bottom and then pinch together the resulting three corners. Whatever gap is left at the center reveals the sweet or tart or crunchy or creamy contents within.

Here are some ways to go, from our Recipe Finder:

Almond Crust Hamantaschen (with Dried Sour Cherry Filling)

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Cream Cheese Hamentaschen Dough (with Apricot Filling)

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

(and straight-from-the-jar Nutella filling)

Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

and let’s not forget Double Chocolate Hamantaschen, Pareve Poppy Seed Hamantaschen and Marcy Goldman’s excellent Almost-Like-a-Bakery Traditional Hamantaschen.




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