Hamantashen with Lemon-Parsley Ricotta

Hamantashen are little pastry pockets, not more than a small bite, usually sweet and filled with poppy seeds, jam, or dried fruit. I turned them into a savory treat with a very lemony ricotta filling refined with lots of chopped parsley. It’s a traditional Ashkenazi pastry, baked and shared during the Jewish holiday of Purim, starting this year on the evening of March 16th and ending 24 hours later. So why am I baking them? And why now?

My friend, the Berlin-based American baker Laurel Kratochvila of Fine Bagels spontaneously started Hamantashen for Ukraine, a show of worldwide bakery solidarity for the people of Ukraine. Profits of the sales are being donated to the Polish Humanitarian Action to help and support Ukrainian refugees at the Polish border. Laurel and her bakery friends will bake and sell hamantashen between now and March 17th, the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. To find out where you can buy the charity pastries click here for the ever expanding list of participating bakeries all over the world.

Purim is celebrated to remember the saving of the Jewish people – thanks to queen Esther – from Haman, a vizier of the First Persian Empire who wanted to kill all Jews in the empire. Traditionally, food, drinks, and gifts are shared on this holiday, hamantashen are enjoyed together in the community, donations are given to the poor, and children and adults alike dress up in costumes. Maybe most importantly, these days there’s often a reflection on modern day Hamans in the world. That’s where this fundraiser comes in.

Laurel shared her recipe for sweet hamantashen with poppy seeds with me and I’ll share my first attempt to bake hamantashen with you. Not sweet but packed with lemon-parsley ricotta.

Thank you, Laurel!

Hamantashen with Lemon-Parsley Ricotta

Makes 22 hamantashen

For the pastry

  • 285g / 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt 
  • 120g / 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, cold 
  • 1 large egg 

For the filling

  • 125g / 4.5 ounces fresh ricotta, drained
  • 1 large egg
  • 30g / 1 ounce Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 1 scant tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Coarsely ground pepper

For the pastry, combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and use a knife to cut it into the flour until there are just small pieces left. Quickly rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until combined. Add the egg and briefly mix with the paddle until crumbly. Form the dough into a thick disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F (preferably convection setting). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

For the filling, whisk together the ricotta, egg, Parmesan, parsley, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a generous amount of pepper in a medium bowl. Season to taste with additional salt.

On a work surface, place the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll out until it’s about 3mm / 1/8 inch thick. Using a 7cm / 3 inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles, re-rolling any pastry scraps. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the middle of each circle. To shape, fold 3 sides inward to make a triangle, either overlapping or pinching where the edges meet. Transfer to a large platter and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Transfer the hamantashen to the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 18 minutes or until the pastry is golden and just baked through. Let them cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

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Hamantashen with Poppy Seeds

by Laurel Kratochvila / Fine Bagels

Makes 40 hamantashen

For the pastry

  • 440g / 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 240g / 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • 130g / 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon finely ground almonds
  • 120g / 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 
  • 2 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling

  • 150g / 1 1/2 cups ground poppy seeds
  • 75g / 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 210ml / 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • 2 tablespoons honey

For the pastry, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour and butter on low speed until sandy in texture, no bits of butter remaining. Add the ground almonds and confectioners sugar and mix until well combined. Add the salt, eggs, and vanilla and mix on low until the dough has just come together and no dry bits remain. Press the dough into a thick disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for 2 hours or up to 48 hours.

For the filling, in a heavy, medium saucepan, bring the poppy seeds, sugar, milk, butter, and lemon juice to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in the honey, and let cool completely before using. Covered airtight, you can refrigerate it for up to 1 week.

Preheat the oven to 170°C / 340°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To use the chilled pastry, you must break it: Fold it in half and roll it out once. It will crack. Fold the dough back up and roll out a second time. Now it’s ready.

On a work surface, place the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll out until it’s about 3mm / 1/8 inch thick. Using a 7cm / 3 inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles, re-rolling any pastry scraps. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the middle of each circle. To shape, fold 3 sides inward to make a triangle, either overlapping or pinching where the edges meet. Transfer to a large platter and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Transfer the hamantashen to the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden and just baked through. Let them cool for a few minutes and enjoy!