Let’s Bake Some Hamantaschen!

by Naomi LeVine / February 18, 2021

I love baking hamantaschen.

I’m saying that as someone who doesn’t even particularly enjoy baking. Maybe it brings me back to Jewish day school, when teachers wrote our names on parchment paper-lined baking sheets with sharpies to designate which of the identical triangles of dough was ours. Maybe it reminds me of my college Hillel, which handed out bags of them, inspiring a race to find someone who would trade for your poppyseed (it would be tragic to be stuck with a poppyseed!).

These odd cookies have a strange origin. Hamantaschen were named for Haman, an anti-semetic prime minister of Persia and the villain of the Purim story. After determining that Mordechai, a Jewish citizen, wouldn’t  bow to him and affirm his (clearly fragile) sense of power, Haman created a plan to have all of the Jews of Persia killed. His plan was eventually thwarted by Esther, the queen of Persia, who revealed herself as Jewish. 

Hamantaschen are often called “oznei haman,” which literally means, “Haman’s ears” (Haman being the villain in the story of Purim). Quickly, this falls under the category of ‘Jewish customs that are hard to explain’ when you bring hamantaschen to share with those who aren’t familiar. Others attribute the triangular shape of the hamantaschen to Haman’s three-cornered hat.

My favorite interpretation is a little simpler. We take something as terrible as Haman’s hatred of the Jews and greed for power, and we make it sweet. We don’t use it as an excuse to be hateful back; we use it to enhance our joy. We take away the power of his cruelty with a trite and harmless cookie. Not allowing hatred, abuse of power, or even a global pandemic to render us unable to access our capacity to feel joy and create sweetness feels like an important lesson.

So maybe it’s for that reason that every year, as Purim rolls around, I find myself standing in my kitchen and making dozens of cookies. I always make a batch with a traditional, jelly center (you already know how I feel about poppyseed, but I won’t yuck your yum), and then I like to get creative.

Below are some tips and favorite flavors I’ve experimented with over the years. 

Doughs and Don’ts

No rolling pin, no problem!

  • Don’t feel limited if you don’t have a rolling pin or circular cookie cutter. Any smooth surface – like a drinking glass or reusable water bottle – can serve as a roller, and you can use the mouth of the glass as the cookie cutter. (Hamantaschen begin as circles and then the sides are folded up into a triangle, like this.) Make sure, though, that your circle is large enough for a fun filling in the center.

Fill and freeze

  • Make sure not to overfill your hamantaschen, as they can lose their shape. Some people swear by freezing the cookies after they are formed but before you bake them to help them retain their shape. 

Get creative!

  • This is my very favorite part. I love thinking about different filling and dough combinations. Here are some of my favorites from the past few years to take your Purim to the next level.

Fruity Pebbles

  • Call me a basic, nostalgic millennial, but these were amazing. The key is to not bake the cereal, but add it after. Use strawberry jam as the filling, then once the hamentaschen are baked and cooled, drizzle melted white chocolate chips or homemade glaze over the cookies and sprinkle on your fruity pebbles so they stick.

Cookies and Cream

  • Crush some Oreos in a ziplock or in a blender and mix in with your dough. Fill with Nutella and/or white and dark chocolate chips. (As a general note: when using chocolate chips or peanut butter as filling, they can burn or dry out really easily so make sure you don’t overcook them!)

Pumpkin Pie

  • If you have any leftover cans of pumpkin puree from the fall, here’s your chance to free up some pantry space! Mix cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar in with your pumpkin puree for the filling. You can even use pumpkin puree in the dough! Be wary of mixing cinnamon in the dough, however. It sounds good, but cinnamon can make the dough really dry.  


  • Matcha hamantaschen is a mouthful to say, but a delicious one to eat. Add matcha powder to your dough and fill with white chocolate chips or blueberry preserves. 

Bananas Foster

  • For your filling, mix a mashed banana, a sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar, and a splash of rum in a bowl. Once they’re baked, drizzle caramel syrup. These don’t store for long, but I am telling you, they are SO good.

Lavender Orange

  • These stole the show last year. Add lavender extract to your dough and fill with orange preserves. I dipped mine in (purple-dyed) white chocolate for added sweetness. 

However you make your hamantaschen this year (or if you choose to buy them – that works too), I hope you are able to find the sweetness in this Purim season. 



About the Author: Naomi LeVine is a Florida native living in the DMV. She is passionate about Judaism, mental health, and finding the best dairy-free ice cream in DC. In her free time, Naomi enjoys reading, playing guitar, hiking, and beating Daniel Wasserman in Azul.





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