Hamantaschen, Ashkenazi Purim pastries, are typically sweet treats with a rich cookie crust and poppy seed or fruit preserve filling. This recipe takes a savoury, Sephardic approach, while keeping the traditional shape, a nod to the three-pointed hat supposedly worn by Haman, the villain of the Purim story in the Book of Esther.
Featuring a yeasted dough and a salty cheese filling, these hamantaschen are inspired by the texture and flavour of fatayer, a Lebanese pastry beloved around the world. This filling consists of a mix of feta, queso fresco, za’atar and sumac, but you can substitute and experiment with other cheeses or fillings such as meat or spinach. When shaping the hamantaschen, don’t be too precious with them — they don’t have to be perfect. While you can certainly handle this recipe on your own, I recommend making these hamentaschen with the company (and help) of others in the spirit of sharing this holiday.
Egg Wash and Topping
This recipe requires 1 hour rest time.
In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer with a hook attachment, combine all the dough ingredients, mixing and kneading for about 5 minutes to make a smooth, stretchy, slightly sticky dough. If the dough is still very wet, add extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it’s smoother.
Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces and shape into balls.
Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let rise for about 1 hour. While the dough is rising, prepare the cheese filling.
Related: Sephardic-Style Spiced Challah
To make the filling: In a bowl, stir together or hand-mix all the filling ingredients until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets.
Lightly flour a clean work surface. Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a rolling pin an your hands to stretch into a thin circle about 4-5 inches in diameter.
Spread a scant two teaspoons of filling in the middle of the dough, within at least 1 inch of the edge.
To create the hamentaschen shape, with a small pastry brush or your fingers, spread a bit of egg wash around the edge of the dough circle.
Start with the part of the circle closest to you. Lift the dough with your two thumbs, then lift the sides with your two index fingers. With the dough’s edges up, pinch the seams together to create a triangle shape. Repeat with the remaining hamentaschen.
Once all the hamentaschen are shaped and ready to go into the oven, brush the edges with egg wash and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Sprinkle with sumac and serve warm.