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Spiced Nut and Cheese Hamantashen

As Purim fast approaches, we’re highlighting a few unconventional hamantashen recipes! This Spiced Nut and Cheese one comes from Elana Horwich’s Meal and a Spiel cookbook. Enjoy!

I think I might have created the best Hamantashen ever. Really.

Basically, these hamantashen are like a cheese and prune danish meets a nutty cinnamon rugelach.

Hamantashen cookies are so often not “wowers.” Plain dough filled with jam shaped in a triangle to mimic the 3-pointed hat of the monstrous Haman. As the advisor to King Ahasuerus, he called to exterminate all of the Jews of Ancient Persia.

Fortunately the king’s favorite wife Esther was Jewish so the whole thing was called off. Instead of mourning the death of thousands, we make cookies!

I figure as long as we are celebrating life, survival, the strength-brains-and-beauty of a woman, the aversion of a holocaust, La Résistance well, these better be some darn good cookies.

I started with a spiced honey and walnut filling that is similar to the inside of a particular Italian Rosh Hashanah treat called Sfratti. It could have been enough (dayenu) but it was a tiny bit too sweet. I have to thank Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen for encouraging me to add cream cheese into the dough. Since I already had some on my counter for the pastry, I figured why not add some to the filling too and cut down the sweetness with a little creaminess? It was a good idea. A very good one. You will see for yourself.

Whether you are celebrating Purim or not, here is an excellent excuse to make some really good cookies.

I included a gluten-free version, which is just as delicious.

Makes about 20 cookies.



Vigor Trigger: Click the pink for health benefits!

For the Dough:

  • 1½ cups all purpose white flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick salted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons honey (raw if possible)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • generous tablespoon of fresh squeezed orange juice (you will use zest for the filling)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For a Gluten-Free Dough:

  • 1½ cups GF flour blend (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • ¼ cup cornmeal (or just add another ¼ cup GF flour)
  • ½ teaspoon xantham gum
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick salted butter at room temperature
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons honey (raw if possible)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice, or more if need to bind it (you will use zest for the filling)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons honey (raw if possible — it has better flavor)
  • 3 tablespoons fig jam (I like this one)
  • zest of 1 orange — (a microplane is my favorite tool for zesting, fyi)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 of a whole nutmeg, freshly grated (microplane is my favorite tool for this too!)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups walnuts
  • 10 prunes, soaked in hot water
  • a couple ounces of cream cheese (for a more gourmet touch, try with goat cheese)

To make the dough:

  1. Add all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Next add all of the other ingredients and mix together with your hands until it is well integrated and you can form a ball.
  3. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap, flatten to form a disc and place in fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

To make the filling:

  1. Over medium heat, add the honey and fig jam to a pan and let warm to almost a bubble for about 3 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, pulse walnuts in a food processor, mini-chopper, or chop by hand. You want them in small pieces, but not reduced to a flour.
  3. Add the orange zest, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper and walnuts to the honey and jam. Mix and remove to a less sticky container… try a piece of parchment paper in a cereal bowl.

To assemble and bake the hamantashen:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. Work with about a quarter of the dough at a time, leaving the rest in the fridge to stay cool, which will make it easier to work with.
  3. On a well-floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to flatten the dough to 1/8 inch thick. It’s ok to do this a bit at a time.
  4. Use a glass or cup with a thin rim that is about 3 inches wide to cut the dough into circles.
  5. Atop each circle build this little “tower”:
    1. one half of a prune
    2. a scant teaspoon of the walnut mixture
    3. a knob of cream cheese, a very scant teaspoon
  6. one half of a prune
  7. a scant teaspoon of the walnut mixture
  8. a knob of cream cheese, a very scant teaspoon
  9. Fold the sides of the dough circle in to create a triangle. Pinch the angles very well and fold them to be sure your hamantashen is well sealed.
  10. Place the hamantashen on the cookie sheet and bake for about 12-15 minutes minutes. Let cool slightly before devouring.

To learn more about Elana Horwich, and see more recipes, visit https://mealandaspiel.com/.

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