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
Tender, Flaky Butter Hamantaschen
Supernatural Colorful Hamantaschen
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.
- 1/2 cup/100 grams sugar
- approx. 1 tablespoon/15 milliliters grated orange zest (from one orange)
- 7 ounces/14 tablespoon/200 grams butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup/60 milliliters brandy or orange juice
- 1 tablespoon/15 milliliters vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 2 1/2 cups/313 grams flour, up to and extra 1/2 cup/60 grams if you don't use colorful mix-ins plus more for rolling
- optional colorful mix-ins amount for whole dough: approx. 1 1/2 tablespoons/22 milliliters turmeric or approx. 2 tablespoons/30 milliliters matcha powder or approx. 2 tablespoons/30 milliliters beet powder
- 1 recipe lemony poppy seed filling
- Moon Shine Trading Co. Honey Tart Cherry Fruit Spread c/o
- Jam of your choosing, or puréed preserves thickened with coconut flour
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, rub sugar and zest together.
- Add softened butter to bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add egg and mix until combined.
- Add brandy or orange juice, vanilla extract, and salt and mix, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mixture won't be entirely smooth.
- add flour and optional coloring ingredient - being sure to use the smaller amount of flour if using the mix-in.
- Mix only until combined and homogeneous, and 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.
- 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 1/5 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 freezer until the cookies are firm and cold. 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.
- FEAST ON THEIR BUTTERINESS!