Purists look away now, these are not traditional hamantaschen! Hamantaschen (made during the Jewish festival of Purim) are only a recent discovery for me, so I don’t have any preconceived ideas or traditions to guide me as to how they ‘should’ be. My only experience with them is seeing pictures pop up on Instagram the week or so before Purim. And many of the ones I have seen are variants on the traditional versions. The recipes from Molly Yeh’s blog ‘My Name is Yeh’ are a great example of this. Last year I made her Marzipan Sprinkle Hamantaschen and they were delightfully fun.
This year I have been baking with pistachios a lot, and trying to perfect a homemade pistachio paste (since none seems to be available to buy at any store I have so far looked at!). When I noticed Purim was fast approaching I thought a pistachio version with my newly perfected pistachio paste would be great.
Great, if you aren’t set on a traditional hamantaschen that is! After speaking to a few people, I have since discovered that firstly, traditionally hamantaschen are filled with a poppyseed filling. Secondly, the shortbread like pastry sometimes used nowadays (like the one below), is definitely not traditional! A yeasted dough is the traditional way to make them.
Well, that had me seriously questioning my hamantaschen idea, and for a moment considered making this version and a traditional poppyseed one with yeasted dough. After more discussion and some research online and in a few of my cookbooks, I decided to forge ahead with my super untraditional hamantaschen recipe.
From my research on hamantaschen the shortbread like dough was a 20th century adaptation of the original, as it was easier to make and had a slightly longer shelf life. From my observations it looks like the shortbread like dough is quite common in America and in US based recipes. Which is where the below recipe originates. After some trial and error I finally settled on the dough recipe by Uri Scheft from his book ‘Breaking Breads’. Uri has bakeries in Israel and New York, and based on the types of recipes in this book, I definitely need to visit one of these bakeries one day!
So to those celebrating, Chag Purim Sameach! And for everyone else, I hope you give these a go! They are worth it just for the pistachio paste alone 😀.
If you want to know more about Purim or Hamantaschen here are a few good links!
NB. The leftover pistachio paste can be used to flavour ice creams or gelato, cakes, icings, milkshakes etc.
Also! The Pisacahio Paste requires blending by a fairly powerful food processor! If you don’t think yours is up to the task, or don’t feel like making it I would recommend making the marzipan from Molly’s Marzipan and Sprinkle Hamantaschen but with ground pistachios instead of almonds.
How to Make Pistachio Paste
250g raw or blanched pistachios
100g white sugar
60ml (4tbsp) pistachio oil
Pre heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius, and place the pistachios on a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Once done set aside to cool a little.
Place the sugar and water into a small/medium saucepan and heat until it reaches 120 degrees on a sugar thermometer. Whilst the sugar syrup is heating, place the roasted pistachios on the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they form a fine crumb.
Once the sugar syrup has reached 120 degrees Celsius, gradually pour into the food processor whilst it is running. Gradually add the pistachio oil, and continue to process until a smooth paste forms. This should take between 5 and 10 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl at regular intervals if necessary. The finished product will be a smooth paste, similar to a nut butter. When the paste initially combines it will form a smooth ball, continue processing until a more paste like consistency is reached.
Once a smooth paste has formed, decant into plastic containers or glass jars and store in the fridge until needed. It should last about 1 month refrigerated. If the oils in the paste separate a little during storage, mix the paste briefly before using.
Makes about 390g.
230g unsalted butter (cold not room temp)
100g icing sugar (confectioners)
50g white sugar
400g plain flour
50g almond meal
Ingredients for the Filling:
1/2 tbsp water
60g mixed berry jam
250g pistachio paste
slivered pistachios, to decorate
Place the butter in between two sheets of baking paper and bash with the end of a rolling pin. This tenderises the butter without warming it up too much.
Place the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on a low speed until just combined. Increase the speed a little for a few moments longer to ensure everything is well mixed.
In a glass, add one of the eggs and lightly beat. Tip half of this into another glass and add the other egg to one of the egg halves and beat until combined. Only 1.5 eggs is necessary for the dough, however keep the other half for the egg wash later.
Add the beaten 1.5 eggs to the butter and mix on low until combined. Add the flour, almond meal and a pinch of salt then mix until almost combined.
Tip your dough onto a work surface and bring the dough together with your hands, until everything is combined. Wrap in plastic wrap or baking paper and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour (however you can do up to this step on one day and finish off the rest the next).
Once the dough has chilled, pre heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line three large baking trays with baking paper.
Flour your work surface and roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it is about 0.5cm thick. Continue to dust with more flour if the dough is sticky.
Cut out rounds of the dough using a 7.5-8cm (3 inch) round biscuit/cookie cutter and place on the prepared trays. Place these trays in the fridge if the dough has softened too much for a few minutes. Bring the scraps of dough together and flatten out again. If the dough is too soft re-wrap and place in the fridge for a few minutes, then continue to cut out more rounds of dough.
Remove the trays from the fridge. Get your beaten half egg from earlier and add the water and a pinch of salt. Whisk until combined. Brush this mixture over each round of dough.
Then spread a little of the jam in the centre of each round, then place a 1tsp sized ball of pistachio paste on top.
Shape the rounds of dough into the characteristic triangle shape by pinching one side into a corner, then folding the other side up to form two more corners. Sprinkle the middle of each with a few slivered pistachios.
Bake for about 20-23 minutes, rotating the racks a couple of times during baking to ensure an even bake. The hamantaschen will be lightly golden when they are done.
Cool on trays or on wire racks.
Makes about 40.
References: ‘À La Mère de Famille’ by Julien Merceron (Hardie Grant Books, 2013), p.160; ‘Breaking Breads’ by Uri Scheft (Artisan, 2016), pp.258-260.