The ubiquity of the tri-cornered Purim cookie hits you in the face when thumbing through a stack of kosher cookbooks (which I do on a regular basis, trust me on this one). Every chef and his or her mother have “their” version of hamantaschen, usually made up of one dough recipe plus accompanying ideas for fillings, ranging from poppy seed to prune to preserves. Standard—but always delicious, of course.
But there is nothing standard about Paula Shoyer’s eight hamantaschen recipes in The Holiday Kosher Baker: Traditional & Contemporary Holiday Desserts (Sterling). Looking for Green Tea Hamantaschen? How about pistachio, red velvet and vanilla bean? She has those plus more, including Low-Sugar Hamantaschen. Several of our readers have expressed interest in lower-sugar desserts, and we are happy to have come across Shoyer’s holiday treat this year.
Her chapter dedicated to Purim doesn’t end with hamantaschen, however. There is more to the story: brownie bites, tie-died black and white cookies, chocolate truffles. B’teyavon and hag sameah!
Unable to come up with completely sugar-free hamataschen that I was satisfied with, I developed this recipe. I substituted white whole-wheat flour for white flour, which is healthier, especially for people on a low-sugar diet, and also reduced the amount of sugar in the dough. Makes 20 cookies.
1 1/4 cups white whole-wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons margarine, frozen for 20 minutes
4 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, frozen for 20 minutes
1 large egg
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup low-sugar or sugar-free jam or preserves
Place the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and mix for a few seconds until mixed. Add the chilled margarine and shortening and mix for 20 seconds, or until the mixture looks like sand. Add the egg and cold water and mix just until the mixture comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic and flatten. Place the dough in the freezer for about 45 minutes or overnight. When you’re ready to bake, remove the dough from the freezer and gently thaw it until you can press it gently.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one or two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, or plan to bake in batches.
Take another two pieces of parchment paper and sprinkle flour on one, place one dough half on top, and then sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough. Place the second piece of parchment on top of the dough and roll on top of the parchment until the dough is about 1/4-inch thick. Every few rolls, peel back the top parchment and sprinkle a little more flour on the dough. Do not roll the dough too thin.
Use a 2- to 3-inch drinking glass or round cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles. Use a metal flat-blade spatula to lift up the circle of dough and place it on another part of the flour-sprinkled parchment paper. Place up to 1 teaspoon of jam in the center and then fold the three sides in toward the middle to form a triangle, leaving a small opening in the center. Pinch the three sides together very tightly. Place on the prepared cookie sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough and roll and cut any dough scraps, making sure to sprinkle a little flour under and over the dough before you roll.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned but the tops are still light. Slide the parchment onto wire racks to cool the cookies. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.