It’s hamentasch time!

11 Feb

The Jewish holiday of Purim is in just two weeks, so I thought I’d reprise my recipe for hamentaschen, the three-cornered fruit-filled cookies that are popular for this holiday. (One cookie is a hamentasch.)

Instead of the usual photos, this year I have a video for you, thanks to my very talented future daughter-in-law, Grace Vant Hof. My synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom, asked if I would do a Zoom cooking demo for their online Purim carnival this year. I’m not confident enough of my Zoom skills to do this “live” so I offered to enlist Grace and make a short vid.

Purim is described in the Book of Esther, which is short and easy to read, and you should get out your Bible if you’re not familiar with it. The day celebrates the deliverance of the Jews of Persia from an evil plot to exterminate them (something that pretty much sums up most of Jewish history). The cookie’s name comes from the story’s villain, Haman, and is said to mimic the shape of his hat, though in Yiddish the word means “Haman’s pockets” (and in Israel, they call them “oznei Haman,” Haman’s ears.)

On this holiday it’s customary to exchange gifts of food. When our kids were younger and we distributed dozens of food packages, each with four to six hamentaschen, I would double this recipe and make at least two double batches. This year we are pretty much foregoing the package distribution – it’s part laziness and part realizing that most of our friends, like us, do not need gifts of sweets this year – so I only made the one batch.

I still think this recipe makes the best hamentaschen! We have received many different versions of these cookies, and to my mind there’s only one friend whose recipe (quite different) rivals this one in taste.

Watch the vid to hear the stories about where this recipe came from, as well as some tips on how to make them. It’s just under 13 minutes.


2½ cups flour
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
⅓ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 eggs
1 can Solo fruit or poppy pastry filling


Sift dry ingredients together. Cream shortening and sugar. Add honey and lemon juice and mix well. Add part of flour, then eggs, then rest of flour. Dough should be soft enough to form a ball but not stickyDirections:

Preheeat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out on a floured board, cut out rounds using a cookie cutter or glass (dip edge into flour). Place a half-teaspoon of filling in the center of each piece, then pinch into a three-cornered shape. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies


4 Responses to “It’s hamentasch time!”

  1. Susan Naidoff Holliday February 12, 2021 at 4:32 pm #

    Loved the video! Huzzah for you and Grace! And the way you placed your hands as you talked before starting to bake were much like Julia Child on The French Chef!

    SO interesting the differences between your method and mine as we both use our Mom’s recipe. I have never used a sheet or tablecloth–I don’t even remember Mom doing that, but I trust you’re right. I have a large glass cutting/pastry board. And one step I added on my own: An egg wash to finish each one. But the rest is virtually the same.

    The story about Judy Davis and the recipe origin: You said that Judy printed her mother’s recipe, but it was different from our mom’s. So the mystery remains–where did Mom’s recipe come from?

    Happy Purim – this was a treat!

  2. Bobbie February 12, 2021 at 4:38 pm #

    Judy may have admitted that it wasn’t actually a recipe she got from her mom — but now I really can’t remember and I can’t find her email, it was too long ago :>(. As for the sheet/tablecloth, it’s totally unnecessary — I think the main advantage is it gave me a larger area to work in than a silpat or cutting board. But I’m glad you agree it’s a great recipe!

  3. Zoe Atherton February 12, 2023 at 1:20 pm #

    I love baking hamentaschen for Purim! Your video tutorial makes it seem so much easier – thank you for sharing. Do you have any tips for getting the dough to stay together when you shape the cookies?

    • Bobbie February 12, 2023 at 6:16 pm #

      The dough should be pretty elastic. After you fill each cookie, pinch the sides together to form a triangle shape. If you punch them well x they’ll hold together!

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