Caught in a Jam: Creative Hamantashen from the ‘Queen of Kosher’

Given the right filling — or dough — this traditional pastry has a lot more to offer. 

We all recognize that poppy seed or jam taste when we bite into hamantashen on Purim every year. But given the right filling — or dough — the traditional pastry has a lot more to offer.
Hailed as the “Queen of Ko­sher” and the “Jewish Rachael Ray,” best-selling author Jamie Geller is the founder of the Kosher Media Network, publisher of the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine and Geller’s online cooking videos have garnered more than 1 million views.
The following recipes were recommended by Geller and have appeared on her website and in her magazine. 
Cardamom-Scented Hamantashen with Pear and Goat Cheese Filling
By Pessy Haskelevich, writer for Joy of Kosher With Jamie Geller. For a pareve version, simply replace the butter with canola oil and omit the goat cheese.
Pastry Ingredients:
2 eggs
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 stick butter or 1⁄4 cup canola oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
21⁄2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1-2 tsps. cardamom 
pinch of salt
Filling Ingredients:
1⁄2 cup water
1⁄8 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 lb. firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1⁄4-inch diced pieces
3⁄4 cup apricot jam
1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts
8 oz. soft goat cheese (optional)
To prepare the pastry: Beat the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Divide the dough in half and chill in plastic wrap for half an hour.
To prepare the filling: Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat until sugar has dissolved.
Add the lemon juice, ginger and pears and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until pears are tender. Set aside to cool.
To assemble and bake: On a generously floured surface, preferably on baking paper, roll out the dough to a 1⁄4-inch thickness.
Roll once, then pick up the flattened dough and turn it 90˚. Sprinkle with more flour if necessary and roll it out again.
Repeat until dough is of sufficient thickness. (This procedure helps prevent the dough from sticking.)
Use a round cookie cutter or glass with a 2- to 3-inch diameter to cut out circles of dough.
Smear a very thin layer of apricot preserves in the center of each circle. Sprinkle 1⁄2 teaspoon walnuts and a small piece of crumbled goat cheese.
Top with 1 teaspoon of pear jam.
Lift up the edges of the circle to form a triangle. Pinch the corners securely so that they don’t open in the oven.
Line a cookie sheet with baking paper and place the assembled hamantashen on the cookie sheet. Chill the hamantashen in the freezer for about half an hour.
Repeat with second half of dough.
Bake the hamantashen in the oven at 375˚ for 20 to 24 minutes or until golden. Cool on rack.
Makes 2 dozen.
Gingerbread Hamantashen with Spiced Apple Filling
By Tamar Genger, executive editor,
Cookie Dough Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 tsp. baking soda
3⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
11⁄2 tsps. ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp. ground allspice
1⁄2 tsp. ground cloves
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. freshly milled black pepper
8 Tbsps. unsalted margarine, room temperature
1⁄4 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup packed light brown sugar
2⁄3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
Filling Ingredients:
6 Tbsps. margarine, cut
in 1-inch pieces
1⁄2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and scraped of seeds
3 large or 4 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
1⁄4 cup brown sugar, packed
To prepare cookie dough: Sift the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper through a wire sieve into a medium bowl. Set aside. 
In a stand mixer, beat the margarine and shortening on high until well-blended, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and egg.
Using a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two thick disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. (The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)
To prepare the filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, add the margarine and vanilla bean and seeds, cooking about 5 minutes. Add the apples and let them caramelize on one side, then turn and cook until it begins to caramelize.
Sprinkle the brown sugar over the apples and cook, turning occasionally while it softens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and remove vanilla bean, then puree in food processor and cool until ready to use.
When ready to assemble and bake the cookies, position the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350° F.
To roll out the cookies, work with one disk at a time, keeping the other disk refrigerated.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just warm enough to roll out without cracking, about 10 minutes. (If the dough has been chilled for longer than 3 hours, it may need a few more minutes.)
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Roll out the dough 1⁄8-inch thick. Cut out 3-inch circles and use a spatula to place circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Spoon a teaspoon of filling into the center of the circle of dough and fold together to form a triangle. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, remove to wire rack to cool, and enjoy.
Makes 3 dozen.


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