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A Purim Treat: Poppy Seed Hamantaschen

Poppy seed hamantaschen are a traditional Jewish cookie made for the Purim festival. To make a delicious, creamy filling for hamantaschen, simmer the poppy seeds with milk and honey, and accent the mixture with nuts and raisins.

Fresh poppy seeds are not an everyday ingredient. Here are some hints for finding and using them.

  • Use fresh poppy seeds. You can find them in Jewish, Polish, and Iranian markets and in some gourmet groceries.

  • Store the fresh poppy seeds in a cool place. If they have been ground, refrigerate them and use them promptly.

  • If you prefer a smooth filling, grind the seeds in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Leave them whole for a more crunchy texture.

This recipe calls for you to make the filling ahead of time — it requires at least two hours in the fridge.

Hamantaschen with Poppy Seeds

Special tools: Rolling pin, 3-inch cookie cutter

Preparation time: 1 hour, plus 2 hours to chill

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yield: About 2 to 2-1/2 dozen

Keeping kosher: Dairy

1 batch Crisp Cookie Dough (refrigerated)

3/4 cup poppy seeds (1/4 pound)

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup raisins

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

To make the filling:

  1. For the poppy seed filling, grind the seeds in a spice grinder if you prefer a fine texture.

  2. In small saucepan, combine poppy seeds, milk, honey, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat, stirring often, about 15 to 20 minutes or until it is thick. Add the raisins and butter and stir the filling over low heat until the butter melts. Remove from heat.

    For a kosher finale to a meat meal, simmer the poppy seeds in water instead of milk, or use half water and half orange juice to complement the orange zest in the mixture.

  3. Stir in the pecans and orange zest. Refrigerate in a covered container for at least two hours before using.

To assemble the hamantaschen:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

  2. Grease two baking sheets. To shape the cookies, use one quarter of the dough at a time. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8 inch thick.

  3. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut the dough in rounds. Brush their edges lightly with water. Put 1 teaspoon filling in the center of each one. Pull up the edges of each round in three arcs that meet above the filling, covering it. Pinch the dough above the filling to close the cookies firmly. Pinch the edges to seal them. Put them on a greased baking sheet and refrigerate them uncovered while shaping the remaining cookies. Pat the dough scraps together, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them also. Save them for making flat cookies.

    Resist the temptation to overfill the cookies, or they may burst.
    Resist the temptation to overfill the cookies, or they may burst.
  4. Roll the remaining dough and shape more hamantaschen. Refrigerate the cookies at least 30 minutes before baking to firm dough.

  5. Bake for 14 minutes, or until light golden at the edges. Cool them on a rack.

    Make sure that you bake the cookies only until they are pale golden at the edges. If the cookies are baked too long, the sugar in the dough may cause them to burn.

To get ahead with your holiday baking, you can keep the shaped cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking them. Once baked, they keep for about four days in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also freeze them.

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