Tradition is a beautiful thing, especially when baked goods are involved. On the Jewish holiday of Purim, it's a tradition to bake and eat hamantaschen, triangular cookies filled with sweetened ground poppy seeds or fruit preserves. In recent years; however, home bakers have gotten creative with fillings, spooning everything from spiced apple butter to marzipan into the three-cornered pockets. Can't decide whether to stick with a traditional filling or try something new? No problem. Just mix up two batches of dough and leave the tough choices for another day.
Here are 5 creative ways to fill your hamantaschen:
1. Two words: homemade Nutella.
Let's be honest: It was only a matter of time before bakers started connecting the dots between Purim's choice dessert and the popular Italian chocolate-hazelnut spread. Try filling your hamantaschen dough with a decadent dot of Nutella. Or better yet, grind up a homemade version made with agave and coconut oil.
2. Get a little spicy.
Turn up the heat by filling hamantaschen with pear preserves spiked with black peppercorns and fresh ginger. The jam features just the right amount of kick under a layer of jammy fruit.
3. Go nuts!
Cookbook author and Jewish food maven Joan Nathan's favorite hamantaschen filling is a delicious study in textures. She pulses dried figs, marmalade, a splash of Triple Sec, and a handful of toasted walnuts in a food processor until the mixture turns into a nubby paste that's perfect for filling the pocketed cookies -- or licking directly off a spoon.
4. Swap sweet with savory.
Hamantaschen are traditionally paired with jams and other sweet fillings, but there's no reason not to explore their savory side. Pizza-inspired hamantaschen, stuffed with sautéed onion, tomatoes, and goat cheese are a great place to start. Ground beef or sweet potatoes are other great bases for savory hamantaschen fillings.
5. Rework a classic.
Ground poppy seeds (called mohn in Yiddish) are the most traditional, and controversial, hamantaschen filling. People either love the nutty-sweet flavor or can't stand the idea. I've found that adding just a bit of melted bittersweet chocolate into the mix, like in the Chocolate-Poppy Seed Hamantaschen in Modern Jewish Cooking, silences the haters while bringing the familiar cookie to another level.
Makes about 36 cookies
For the dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon water, plus more if needed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
For the filling:
1 cup poppy seeds
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Top photos by Sang An; nutella photo by Carey Nershi; nut-filled hamantaschen photo by James Ransom