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Vegan Hamantaschen for Purim

Vegan Hamantaschen for Purim is sweet and delicious for this joyous holiday that starts tonight. (all photos from Deborah Brooks)

Tonight marks the celebration of Purim for Jewish people around the world. A joyous holiday filled with costumed, raucous revelry and Mishloach Manot, sweets and treats shared with family and friends. One treat that stands out as the epitome of Purim is Hamantaschen, a triangular-shaped, jam-filled cookie, named for Haman, a wicked tyrant intent on annihilating the Jewish people 2500 years ago. Some lore claims he wore a three-cornered hat, hence the three-cornered pastry, others refer to the shape as representing his ears. Either way, he didn’t succeed or survive, as I am here to share the tale and this cookie recipe.*

Hamantaschen has been my favorite cookie since I dressed up as Queen Esther, the savior of the Jewish people in the Purim story when I was in nursery school. A crisp and buttery shell gives way to a syrupy sweet fruit filling. What’s not to love? What’s not to devour? What’s not to celebrate the strength and courage of a few, with every bite?

The author as Queen Esther for Purim.

While the original pastry would have been a yeast dough with a cooked poppy seed filling, Hamantaschen has evolved through the centuries to satisfy a different palate. I further modified the recipe by using plant-based butter and egg replacement to create a vegan version. I added almond extract to the dough for a nutty bite. I then opted for raspberry jam, a more traditional filling and mango peach jam, a more contemporary flavor, for a bit of variety to compliment the rich almond taste. Both were sweet and delicious! Choosing your favorite fruit filling is part of the fun so feel free to experiment.

I do hope you’ll try this vegan version of Hamantaschen, whether you’re a seasoned Hamantaschen baker or new to this Purim treat.

*For more information on the holiday of Purim, from true authorities on the subject, please Google online sources. It’s a fascinating story of one woman’s courage to stand up for herself and her people.

Crumbly dough ready to be formed into a ball.

Chef’s Tips:

  • Don’t over mix the dough once the flour is added. It should be crumbly like pie dough. Add a few drops of water at a time and knead gently to pull the pastry together.
  • Chill the dough at least three hours and up to 2 days before rolling out. Let the dough soften a bit before rolling out, after chilling.
  • Re-form the scraps into a disc and chill for the second batch. Repeat until all dough is used.
  • Once the Hamantaschen are assembled chill them in the pan in the fridge (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) before baking. This will help them keep their shape when baking.
  • Make sure to pinch the corners tight.
  • I chose to make an almond-forward dough. Use less almond extract for a milder almond flavor or replace with all vanilla extract for no almond flavor.
  • Cornstarch in cookie dough helps prevent the cookies from spreading.
  • Just Egg and Miyokos butter are available at most markets.
  • I use store-bought jam as it is thicker than making a homemade fruit filling. The key is to prevent the triangles from opening up so you want a thicker filling.
  • Bake one pan at a time. (If you have double ovens you can bake both pans at the same time.)
  • Let the cookies mostly cool in the pan then move to a cooling rack, to prevent breakage.
  • Hamantaschen can be stored in a container at room temperature or frozen.

Vegan Hamantaschen for Purim
Makes about 18

You’ll need a rolling pin, a very large wooden board for rolling out the dough, a 3-inch cookie cutter, preferably fluted but plain is okay, two large cookie sheets and, either parchment paper or Silpat baking mats.

3/4 cup vegan butter, room temperature
2/3 cup organic cane sugar
3 T Just Egg or other equivalent to one hen egg, room temperature
3/4 tsp almond extract ( less for a milder almond flavor)
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract (more if subbing some or all of the almond extract)
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 1/4 cups (280 g) AP flour (plus extra for rolling out the dough)
1 tsp cornstarch
Jams of choice

Sift the flour and cornstarch together into a bowl. Set aside.

In a stand mixer or a freestanding bowl with hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down sides, as needed.

Add the Just Egg, almond and vanilla extracts, and salt and mix until well combined, scraping down sides as needed.

Using the lowest mixer setting, stir in flour mixture until dough is just coming together but still crumbly, scraping down sides as needed.

Start to form the dough into a ball in the bowl. If it seems too dry add water, a teaspoon at a time until it comes together and has a low sheen, no more than 2 or 3 teaspoons. Make sure to thoroughly incorporate the water throughout the dough.

Lay the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and flatten to a disc. Wrap tightly and then place in a Ziplock bag to prevent the dough from picking up refrigerator odors. Chill 3 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap and set on a plate to soften a bit.

Set the oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack in the center. Have 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper or Silpat silicone mats.

When the dough is softened a bit, flour your rolling surface and place the disc on top. Flour the top a bit and then place a piece of wax paper between the dough and rolling pin. This reduces the need for extra flour and makes rolling dough much easier.

Starting from the center of the disc, roll the dough outwards until 1/4 inch thick. Cut rounds of dough with the cookie cutter placing the cutter as close to the other cut cookies as possible. When you’ve cut all of the dough, pull away the scraps and re-form into a disc and refrigerate for a second batch.

For the cut cookies, put a level teaspoon of jam in the center of each circle. Don’t overfill. Pull the left side of the circle over and pinch the top and bottom to seal. Pull the right side and pinch that side closed keeping the jammy center partially exposed. This is something you will have to play with to get the technique of creating a filled triangle cookie. Don’t over fuss or the dough will crack. If that happens simply dab closed with a drop of water.

When all triangles are ready, carefully move to a sheet pan, placing at least an inch apart. Chill the Hamantaschen in the pan for 20 minutes in the fridge or 10 minutes in the freezer. This will help prevent them from spreading and opening while baking. You can set up your second batch while the first batch chills.

When the Hamantaschen are chilled transfer to the oven. Bake until just golden brown on the edges and underside and the dough feels a bit firm, about 20-30 minutes. All ovens are different so please check for doneness. Rotate pan midway.

Remove from the oven and let the cookies mostly cool on the pan, then carefully move each cookie to a cooling rack. When completely cool serve or transfer to a covered container.

Repeat baking steps for the second batch. Of note, I simply re-roll any scraps from the second batch and use immediately to hasten finishing up.

Hamantaschen can be store at room temperature for several days. Freezes well.

Yummy jams to fill Hamantaschen
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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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