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A BFA Painting and Drawing graduate gone cookie designer and decorator.  I bring my knowledge of art, composition, and color to pastries to create the perfect cookies and cakes for your events or occasions.
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Monday, March 5, 2012

Lemon Poppy and Apricot Almond Hamentashen

Hamentashen have always been a pastry that I wanted to love but mostly found them lacking in something that made them special.  They sound like the perfect package: slightly cakey, slightly crispy, filled with jam...but always tasting kind of bland (ESPECIALLY those bites without jam!).  Coincidentally the week at work we decide to try making hamentashen ourselves, my friend Jessica sent me a gluten free hamentashen recipe so I took it as a sign of having to try to make them for myself.  At work we made strawberry walnut (which I couldn't have because of the walnuts), chocolate, and lemon poppy. 

Already these were improvements from the plain sticky apricot filling that the hamentashen  I'm used to have.  So I decided to also go with Lemon Poppy and also went with a Apricot/Peach Almond filling.  I also added some orange zest to the dough, egg washed them, and gave them a dusting of cinnamon and sugar to add some more flavor and complexity to them.  The dough was a little tough to handle but once I got it down these were a breeze. 

And let's throw modesty out the window for a moment: These will make you completely forgot the awful, chalky, dry, sticky cookies super markets have the nerve to call hamentashen!  The dough is the perfect middle between cakey and crisp.  The flavor of the dough has a bit of brightness from the orange zest but not too much orange flavor so as to outshine the filling.  The cinnamon sugar dusting gives them a warmth and spice.  And the fillings are delectable.  The Lemon Poppy is the perfect balance of sweet and tart and the Apricot/Peach Almond has it's own bit of tartness from the apricot, sweetness from the peach and crunch from the almonds.  They're the perfect twist on the traditional plain poppy and plain apricot fillings.  Hamentashen are traditionally a Jewish pastry eaten during Purim (which is Wednesday night), but once you try these you'll be wanting to make hamentashen year round!

Lemon Poppy and Apricot/Peach Almond Hamentashen
Recipe via Beth Warren Nutrition from Special Diets for Special Kids by Lisa Lewis
Made Gluten Free by Jesicakes
Makes about 32 4'' hamentashen
Ingredients for Dough
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup canola oil (can substitute vegetable oil)
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
- 1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
- 3/4 cups white rice flour
- 3/4 cups tapioca flour
- 4 tsp gluten free baking powder
- 2 tsp xanthan gum
- 2 tsp of orange zest (about one orange's worth)
- 1/4 tsp salt

- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp sugar
- extra white rice flour for dusting

Ingredients for Filling*
- 1 cup of lemon curd (I used Dickinson's 10oz jar of Lemon Curd...of course you can make your own but I wasn't feeling that ambitious!)
- 2 tsp poppy seeds
- 1 cup of Apricot/Peach Preserves (I used Smuckers naturals...when picking a preserves I make sure the only ingredients are the fruit, sugar, pectin, and citric acid...no starches or additives).
- 2/3 cups of finely chopped almonds

*this was not enough filling...I needed about another cup or so and happened to have other preserves in my fridge.  Overall I'd say you need 3 cups of the preserves of your choice total.

Preheat oven to 350˚F and line baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper
Cream together the oil and sugar together in a mixer until well combined.
Add the eggs one at a time incorporating well before each addition.  Add the vanilla and the orange zest at this point as well.
Mix together the brown rice flour, sorghum flour, white rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.  With the speed on low, gradually add to the mixer.  The dough will start to thicken up.
The dough will be thick and sticky, but manageable.  Here is where you'll need the extra white rice flour.  At first, this dough gave me trouble with sticking to everything, but you just need to flour your surfaces well.
When I roll dough I take a sheet of plastic wrap, flour it, and place a softball sized piece of dough in the center.  Flatten it out, making sure it has a nice thin layer of white rice flour coating it.  Cover it with a second sheet of plastic wrap and roll it out to about 1/4'' or slightly less thick.  You'll have to repeat this step 4 or 5 times...remembering to flour well or the dough will stick.
I then chilled my dough in the fridge (making sure it's lying flat) while I made the fillings.
Mix the poppy seeds in with the lemon curd until they're universally mixed.  Do the same with the apricot/peach preserves and the almonds.
So, I'm a cookie decorator for a living, yet I somehow don't have circle cookie cutters...but that's okay!  I wanted my hamentashen to be about 4'' so I used a measuring cup and just cut around it with a knife.
Make sure to flour the bottom again before placing it on the mat, otherwise it will stick.  I baked six at a time but you could probably fit more like nine.
Spoon about 2 tbsp of preserves into the center of the dough.  Try to form a triangle like shape with it that will mimic the shape of the finished hamentashen.  This way when you fold it, the edges of the cookies won't be just dough.
Fold up three sides to make a triangle.  The trick here to avoid them opening up in the oven is more about having the edges slightly overlap then giving it a little press rather than simply pinching the edges.
Make sure there's a nice window of preserves in the center.
The extra beaten egg in the ingredients was for an egg wash.  Mix together the cinnamon and sugar.  Brush each hamentashen with the egg wash then sprinkle with a light dusting of cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Mine took 14 minutes with a turn after 8 minutes.  The dough doesn't golden up all too much but it will start to feel sturdy.
Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.  They've stayed well in a sealed container so far for 3 days, so I'd say they'd be good for up to 5.  The also freeze well and can stay frozen probably for at least a month.
So whether you're celebrating Purim or just want to enjoy a hamentashen I hope you love these as much as my friends and I did!  And while these preserves fillings I've given you recipes for are delicious, don't be scared to try your own twist on a classic!  You'll never think a hamentashen is bland or boring again!

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