Hamentashen are traditional filled triangular cookies served on the Jewish holiday of Purim, which commemorates the redemption of the Jews in ancient Persia when an evil plot to destroy them was foiled by two heroic individuals (an interesting etymologic discussion can be found here). Purim is a time of celebration and merriment – people dress in costumes, put on funny plays and deliver gifts of sweet baked goods to friends. I look forward to these cookies every year and wanted to try my hand at making a gluten-free version. These are my kind of dessert – a light, not-too-sweet dough with a hint of vanilla and orange zest, and the filling possibilities are endless. I filled these ones with tart black cherry butter and homemade apricot-nectarine preserves, but any jam or marmalade should work (if you want to get fancy you can make all sorts of homemade fillings – some of the most traditional are poppyseed, prune, and date). A word of warning about this gluten free dough: it is very fragile and takes some patience and forgiveness to work with – in case you were wondering why these cookies look a little rustic…but the taste is delicious! This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies.
- 2.5 cups gluten free all-purpose flour (can substitute 1/2 cup of the flour with coconut flour if you like, to increase the fiber content)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup earth balance buttery spread
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp fresh orange zest
- about 3/4 cup of various fruit preserves (I used tart cherry butter and a homemade apricot-nectarine preserves made by a friend)
Preheat oven to 350F. In a food processor or mixer, cream together the earth balance and brown sugar.
Then add in your eggs and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry in the large bowl or your mixer, and mix until well incorporated and you have a ball of dough (Note – this dough is so delicious, it is hard to resist eating some – raw eggs and all!).
Note: you can chill the dough up to 48 hours ahead of time, but I found that in this case, unlike with regular cookie dough, the chilling does not give you better dough integrity and it will be fragile no matter what.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board. Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, gently roll it out into 1/4″ thick layer and use a drinking glass as a cookie cutter to make circle shapes.
Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each circle. You may want to use a metal spatula to gently lift the dough off your work surface if it sticks. Then, ever so patiently, gently lift the sides and form a triangle around the filling, pinching each corner.
….and bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown. The filling may bubble over and burn when heated so try not to overstuff them. Transfer to a plate to cool for 10 min prior to eating. Happy Purim!