Happy Purim! That most raucous of feasts is here again (evening of February 28th, and March 1st), and I’ve got just the recipe to satisfy your all-natural, technicolor cookie cravings! Not a drop of food coloring in sight, just gorgeous colors from spices, produce, and tea.
Last year, I gave you The Best Vegan Hamantaschen and flaky, gloriously buttery Tender Butter Hamantaschen, with my all-time favorite poppyseed filling. There’s also a vegan chocolate-sesame version. This year, I’m going bright and vibrant as a carnival, with punchy flavors to tickle your palate!
Naturally dyed goodies have been proliferating on social media over the last few years, and I’ve experimented with colorful ingredient with delicious flavors like beets, matcha, black sesame, and saffron. And turmeric, a staple spice of Middle Eastern, East, and South Asian cuisines, is having a (Columbused) moment in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. As for me, eye candy is all well and good, to be sure, but the flavors are just as important.
Each of the tinting additions adds nuance to the cookie and I wanted complementary filling pairings. The pretty #millennialpink comes from earthly, rich beet powder – perfect with the gentle tang of Moonshine Trading Company’s Honey Tart Cherry Fruit Spread. Matcha is a green tea powder with fresh, umami notes that team up nicely with citrus zest (as in the dough here). I considered making a black sesame filling, but ended up using my all-time favorite poppy seed filling with great results. And finally, beautiful golden turmeric! This spice is vibrant in hue and has a slightly bitter, earthy flavor, I was turned on to Serious Jams‘ spiced plum preserves by a gift from the Food52 Holiday Swap. I had found an extra jar while ago and blended and thickened it as a perfect spiced-sweet addition to the turmeric cookies.
Confession time: last year, I told you that for smoother butter hamantaschen, you could follow my recipe for more rustic-looking ‘taschen and just use softened butter. That didn’t end up working out for me this year. I got grumpy. I banged around in the kitchen. I stomped around the loft (sorry, downstairs neighbors)! I researched. I tried it again. Failure. Struggle. RAGE! Avert your eyes.
Let me tell you something, having an overactive internal critic is rough. Perfectionism doesn’t help much either. Oh, and Imposter Syndrome has it out for me. I dialed the self-criticism down (thanks therapist!) and could finally think and research properly. My realization was that the recipe from which mine developed called for margarine. That’s why it works so beautifully as a vegan recipe. The food processor technique, when used with butter, even softened butter, cuts the fat into the flour and sugar, which is not conducive to a smooth finished product. So last year’s recipe makes for less pretty, but very tender, very flaky hamantaschen.
With research in hand, stand mixer at the ready, and trays of less than adorable hamantaschen out of sight, I pushed on. And here’s the result! Gorgeous, buttery, flavorful, tender, marvelous hamantaschen.
Ah! I love them so much! I gazed at them. I admired them. I cried from relief that my prayers to the baking gods had been answered. Gone were my plans for sprinkling of flour and artfully placed lemons. A sweet floral cloth napkin and marble board were all I could stand to style these lovelies with. They aren’t the easier subjects to photograph, but I couldn’t stop cooing the whole time.
After my husband/Director of Recipe Tasting and I gorged ourselves, the hamantaschen went to my captive focus group – my day-job coworkers! Though the matcha-poppyseed were my favorite, and my husband preferred the beet-cherry flavor, the focus group liked the turmeric-plum best. Fascinating!
You can make a single batch of the base recipe, divide it, and knead a portion of the coloring ingredients in while the dough is soft. It’s a bit of work, but is a nice way to get variety without making multiple batches of dough. However, it is easier to add the coloring ingredients as listed in the recipe and make a whole batch of one color. Totally up to you! You’ll notice that the volumes of the coloring ingredients are approximate – I eyeballed it, kneading the color into the finished dough as described above. The base dough is a little short on flour so you can add extra powder. If you are making a whole batch of one color, you’ll add the coloring agent with the flour.
Want a parve (non-dairy) version of these bright beauties? You can definitely do this with my vegan recipe, using an egg instead of the egg replacer if you like. You’d add your mix-in(s) (either with the flour or kneaded into the finished dough) as described above.
More Purim goodness:
A beautiful way to observe the charitable, generous spirit of Purim – Bake Action Against Gun Violence