Hamantaschen are some of my favorite childhood pastries and bring back fond memories of colorful Purim celebrations growing up back home. Hamantaschen are cookies that are baked during the Jewish holiday, Purim. They are most notably known to represent the triangular hat of the evil Haman, a Persian prime minister who, according to the Biblical Book of Esther, ordered King Ahasuerus of the Persian Empire in the 4th Century BCE to kill all of the Jews under his rule. Long story short, the King was much nicer than Haman and protected the Jews within his empire. Haman on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. Aside from Haman's hat, there are a number of other interesting explanations for the name of this celebratory treat that's worth delving into if you have the time.
The reason I decided to create my own recipe for Hamantaschen is threefold - 1. this week is Purim! 2. they represent a story of triumph and although they are associated with an evil man, they exude sweetness and happiness like the end of the story of Purim. 3. They are perfectly imperfect cookies. There is no right or wrong way to make Hamantaschen, although there are arguments on how to properly shape the dough: pinching or folding. Regardless, you almost always end up with a perfectly buttery, crumbly pastry brimming with the filling of your choice - whether that be fruit preserves, chocolate, something savory like leeks & goat cheese, or poppy seeds, the traditional filling.
Below is my adapted gluten free Hamantaschen recipe that is tangy from the Tahini, crunchy from the sesame seeds, and sweet from the apricot jam. Enjoy!
1 & 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter [room temperature]
2/3 cup sugar
2 & 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour [see note below]
1/4 cup Tahini [I used Soom Foods Tahini]
1 large egg [room temperature]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of two medium-small blood oranges [1 for dough, 1 for jam]
1 jar apricot jam or preserves
1 cup sesame seeds
Prep time: 2 hours & 45 minutes [45 minutes for dough prep, 2 hours for dough chilling]
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: about 3 hours
Servings: about 16 Hamantaschen
Using a stand or hand mixer, mix together 1 & 1/2 sticks softened butter & 2/3 cups sugar until fluffy & completely combined. [Butter & sugar mixture should not feel granular when it is completely mixed together, it should be smooth.]
Add 1/4 cup Tahini into batter & mix together.
Zest 1 blood orange into batter.
Add 1 egg & 1 teaspoon vanilla & mix.
Sift together 2 & 1/4 cups gluten free all purpose flour & 1/4 teaspoon salt.
In two pours, combine dry & wet ingredients until fully combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Dough should be firm yet malleable.
Divide dough in half & roll into two even-sized balls, wrap in plastic wrap & place in freezer for 1 hour or in fridge for 2. [If chilling in freezer, factor in another 15-20 minutes for dough to thaw just enough to roll out before shaping Hamantaschen]. This step is super important! Cookies always taste better when the dough has been properly chilled.
When dough has finished chilling, let it slightly thaw unwrapped on the counter so it can be rolled out easily.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees [F].
While oven is preheating, zest 2nd blood orange into the apricot jam or preserves & mix together. Keep refrigerated until ready to fill Hamantaschen.
On a large surface, sprinkle some gluten free flour to roll out dough. In the middle of the surface, sprinkle about 1/2 cup sesame seeds & roll dough balls in the seeds until its surface is completely covered.
Gently roll out dough until you reach about 1/4 inch thick flat dough.
Using the top of a mason jar [they make perfectly-sized Hamantaschen!], cut out round circles of dough. Roll out the extra dough in another ball to continue making as many cookies as possible.
Place about 1/2 tablespoon of apricot jam in the middle of each cookie dough round.
There are two ways to form Hamantaschen: the folding way & the pinching way. I pinch, but if you want cleaner lines, you can fold too.
On an oiled baking tray lined with parchment paper, place Hamantaschen evenly apart so they have enough space to bake without touching each other. Bake for 20 minutes.
When Hamantaschen are done baking, let cook & then enjoy!
Bob's Red Mills is usually a reliable source for gluten free baking products, but their gluten free all purpose baking flour can be a bit funny. When I mixed the flour with the other ingredients, it tasted metallic-y to me, almost like copper. I ran into this same problem using this flour awhile back trying to make donuts, and they were essentially a disaster. This time however, the metallic taste completely went away after the Hamantaschen were baked, so problem solved. As a warning, this may happen to you but don't worry! If you follow my directions above, you shouldn't have any problems! [I didn't add the Xanthan Gum as suggested on the packaging, which may be why the dough tasted the way it did; but again if you follow my directions above you should have yourself some seriously delicious Hamantaschen!]