My mother’s hamantaschen are the stuff of legend, delicate and flavorful. They stand in stark contrast to the mass-manufactured, gritty, crumbly, rock-hard pucks that circulated at childhood Purim parties. I love a food challenge – tinkering with a beloved recipe to make it accessible to everyone! So, in an effort to create a recipe worthy of Queen Esther’s Vegan Feast and my beloved vegan friends, I entered the world of mashed bananas, margarine, and egg replacements. I emerged victorious, and with a shockingly popular Instagram post as motivation, I find myself returning to this happy blog.
These triangular filled cookies are one of the traditional treats for the Jewish holiday Purim, a revelrous early spring festival often described as a Halloween-Mardi Gras hybrid. We celebrate Jewish survival and the defeat of an evil demagogue, the keen Queen Esther and wise Mordechai. However, at its core, this bacchanalian bash celebrates discretion, a mastery of political and interpersonal delicacy, and the painful sacrifice that is required of heroes.
My mother’s dough, unlike many (entirely delicious) American hamantaschen recipes, doesn’t contain cream cheese. The dough isn’t overly sweet, but is very flavorful as it contains brandy, vanilla, and citrus zest. It originally called for margarine, but I usually make it with butter. There’s no chemical leavening – it relies on an egg. So my mission was clear:
- Find margarine that is good enough to bake with
- Replace the egg with something
- BLOW PEOPLE’S MINDS
Earth Balance made the first point easy. Beloved of kosher bakers and vegans alike, this is the Cadillac of butter replacements. Boom! DONE.
Egg replacements are a harder nut to crack. I dusted off my research skills, and dove head first into fascinating options like mashed banana (sadly, I’m allergic), almond milk (sadly, behind a paywall), flax seeds, these arrowroot starch and rice flour gluten-free options (I featured the rice flour recipe in last year’s Queen Esther’s Vegan Feast round up). Finally, I landed on this Food52 piece about vegan replacements and some very scrumptious sounding sugar cookies. The author details when to use a premade replacement, make your own, or retool a recipe entirely. She recommends Ener-G, a powdered egg replacement that includes a leavening agent (crucial for my recipe), and re-enforces my Earth Balance decision. At the grocery store, I ended up getting a similar egg replacement from Bob’s Red Mill. Eggcellent!
And finally, I blow people’s minds! I used my mother’s poppyseed filling, which isn’t all that different from Uri Scheft’s in Breaking Breads, it calls for the poppy seeds to be ground, then cooked with sugar and honey (I used silan, date syrup, instead). This smoother, paste-like filling won over my grad school roommate who up until then had been an ardent opponent of poppy seed filling! I made another batch with a different, chocolate-ier filling, I’ll post an update early next week about that one!
I’ve encountered a bit of hand-wringing about how to shape these cookies. It really isn’t hard! I made this handy layout to show you how I do it, and I’ll be posting a gif on Instagram too!
The finished cookies are beautiful, in fact, much prettier than the butter version. The butter version is flakier, but has a craggy appearance whereas the vegan ones are picture-perfect, crisp, but very tender. Prepare to have your mind blown!
Interested in the contentious history of butter and margarine? Check out this fascinating, hilarious podcast.
Curious about how creative hamantaschen flavors started getting popular? Read this piece by Paula Shoyer.
Love butter? Click over to my flakey, gloriously buttery version of this recipe!
- 2 1/2 cups/313 grams flour
- 1/2 cup/100 grams sugar
- 1 egg's worth egg replacement, mixed up and ready to go
- 1/4 cup/60 milliliters brandy or orange juice
- 1 tablespoon/15 milliliters vanilla extract
- approx. 1 tablespoon/15 milliliters grated orange zest (from one orange)
- pinch of salt
- 7 ounces/14 tablespoon/200 grams cold margarine, cut into chunks
Poppy Seed Filling - Pereg
- 1/2 cup/100 grams sugar
- 1/4 cup/60 milliliters water
- 1 tablespoon/15 milliliters silan/date syrup
- 1 cup/125 grams poppy seeds, ground (measure first, then grind in several batches in a clean coffee grinder until powdery)
- 2 tablespoons/30 milliliters lemon juice
- approx. 1 teaspoon/5 milliliters lemon zest (from one lemon)
- 1/4 cup/40 grams raisins
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor outfitted with a blade. Pulse to combine, then process until completely combined and homogeneous, until the dough forms a ball.
- Transfer to a plastic bag, or wrap in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for at least half an hour, up to several days.
- For longer storage, freeze, completely sealed and wrapped, for up to two months. Defrost in the fridge.
Poppy Seed Filling - Pereg
- In a small saucepan (2 quart/liter) over medium-low heat, combine sugar, water, and date syrup. Cook until sugar is completely dissolved and the liquid is simmering
- Add the ground poppy seed and cook a minute longer, stirring. Remove from heat.
- Stir in lemon juice, zest, and raisins.
- Transfer to a wide mouth container (you'll be scooping the filling directly from the container), and chill in the fridge, at least half an hour, up to a week.
- For longer storage, freeze the filling, up to two months. Defrost in the fridge.
- Removed a quarter of the dough from the fridge at a time. Roll out on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick.
- Cut out circles using a circular cookie cutter or wine glass, 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Transfer the rounds to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Reroll the dough scraps and cut more circles.
- Brush the tops of the rounds with water using a pastry brush, about 12 at a time.
- Using two spoons, drop a small amount of filling on the center of each round. DO NOT OVERFILL.
- Shape the cookies by pinching the dough together, making one corner of the triangle at a time. Pinch and press the seams together well, or else they will open, making very tasty but very flat cookies. If the dough doesn't stick together well, brush more water around the edge of the round.
- Fill the parchment paper-lined tray with cookies. They don't grow, so you don't have to leave much room at all, approx 20 cookies/half sheet tray. Transfer the tray to the fridge until the cookies are firm and cool. You can freeze the cookies at this point - freezing them flat on the tray, then transferring them to a container or sealed bag.
- Preheat oven to 350°F/176°C.
- Bake the cookies for 10-14 minutes, until just barely golden, rotating the trays after five minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- DEVOUR THEM!
I’m not even vegan and this was such a good read! I’m excited for the butter recipe. I’ve always loved hamantaschen but never made them.
I’m not vegan either, but they were so delicious! I’m hoping to get the butter-tastic recipe up tomorrow or the next day! WOO!
Hi. Been a vegan baker for 13 years since I found out I have intolerances to all dairy and eggs. Earth Balance and EnerG egg replacer are my best friends! The dough was simple to put together but needed a bit more flour to make the dough come together correctly. I cheated and used the canned poppy seed mix and added raisins that had been soaked in hot water and drained well. A little lemon juice was also stirred in. First batch was not great, spread too much, so then I cut the circles with a 3″ circle cutter and then stuck the baking pan in the freezer for 13 minutes while the prior batch baked. Perfect!!! My hamantasch came out great and were delicious. Mom made bigger ones, but these were the perfect size. Thanks for the inspiration. Hubby loved them.
Thank you so much for making this recipe! I’m delighted that you and your family enjoyed them!
How can I use the poppy seeds if i dont have a coffee grinder?
Hi! You can use a mini food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle. Grinding the seeds makes the filling smoother and less bitter – totally worth it, I promise! I’d love to know how they come out!
Mine are expanding and flattening quite a bit in the oven and I’m not sure what I am doing wrong. They are delicious, just nowhere near as neat looking as the photos!
Oh! I hate when that happens! I chill the assemble cookies a bit longer, I’ve also found that increasing the oven heat a tiny bit can helps sometimes (especially with my terrible rental oven!). Less filling and pinching the seams can help too. I hope that helps and that they are delicious!
Popped the second batch in the freezer for 5 minutes before to get them nice and chilled and traded my scalloped cutter for a plain ring and they came out much prettier! Thanks for the help!
Oh hurrah! I’d love to see a pic!
The flavor is nice, but the dough was difficult to work with (very sticky. Had to add more flour. ) and it only made about two dozen standard size.
Hi Adam, I’m so glad you enjoyed these cookies! Out of curiosity, how big were the cutters you used for the dough?
My daughter recently became vegan and I found your recipe. Just out of the oven tonight and my wife and I agreed they’re the best hamantaschen we’ve ever eaten (and she normally stays as far away from munn as possible)! The dough was perfect. Thank you!!
Oh Aaron, I’m so delighted to hear that. You are so kind! I also love that dough with a chocolate-sesame filling (I use a pre-made one by Soom: https://www.soomfoods.com/product/soom-chocolate-tahini-2-pack/) it’s like nutella but better!
Have a very happy holiday, I’m so glad Nosherium is part of your celebration!
Every year I look for vegan hamantaschen to make for my mother in law, because they are her favorite cookie. This is by far the best recipe I’ve found. I formed them and then put them in the freezer for 10 min before baking, which I think helped them keep their shape. Also, I used flax seeds because I didn’t have egg replacer. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Will definitely make them again!
Hi Claire, I’m so glad that you like this recipe! I’m so touched that you used it to treat your mother-in-law!
Hello! Could you substitute agave, maple syrup, or something similar if you can’t find date syrup? Thanks!
Hi Toni! You absolutely could! Please let me know how it turns out!
Thanks! I used Earth Balance and 3 T aquafaba as the egg replacement. It was really sticky for me too, so I added flour and hand-kneaded until it was workable. I think I may try using vanilla sugar for the sugar and maybe some vanilla powder to up the flavor next year. My friend who is vegan loved them. The texture was great! I really like the cookie crunch. And they held up really well and didn’t open. Thanks!
P.S. I didn’t make the poppyseed filling. I had other fillings I made instead. Also, I put the formed cookies in the fridge for 10 minutes prior to baking.
I love a variety of fillings too, this year I used some homemade wild plum jam, mango coconut srikaya (not vegan), and my lemony poppyseed – variety is the spice of life! Chag sameach!
Oh hurrah! I’m so happy to hear you liked them and that aquafaba worked out! I’ve made other cookies with ground vanilla and so far it’s my favorite way to get that flavor in low-liquid doughs. I make my own by pulverizing dried vanilla pods after I use them for something else. Chag sameach, it’s a delight to be part of your celebration.