Paleo Hamantaschen for Purim
When I was a little girl Purim was my favorite holiday so naturally hamantaschen were my favorite thing to eat on that holiday.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with Purim let me give you a little background so you don’t feel lost the whole way through this post 😉 Purim is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the courage of a very special woman named Esther and, of course, the Jewish people escaping total annihilation. As a kid, hearing this story was awesome because it’s got all of the components of an epic tale à la LOTR or Camelot: kings, romance, royals getting banished, a wise elder (who looks strangely Gandolf-like in all the picture books), a pauperess-turned-queen, acts of immeasurable bravery, a bad guy who gets hanged, plus it takes place in a far away land (The Persian Empire)! What’s not to love?!
Anyways, aside from having a great story, the celebration that goes along with it is fantastic! It’s basically a combination of Halloween + Carnival + Game Night. People dress up, hang out, play games, drink, celebrate and eat hamantaschen, the awesome triangle shaped cookies I’m going to teach you how to make today. By the way, I almost forgot to mention this part. Hamantaschen are triangle shaped because the bad guy that gets hanged at the end of the story, wore a triangle shaped hat and his name was Haman. So naturally we’ve decided to commemorate his evil legacy by eating his hat once a year for the rest of eternity. Go figure…
Nonetheless, the hamantaschen is a fantastic cookie. I’ve put together a Paleo, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan-adaptable version for you that takes only a minor amount of elbow-grease. They’re just a tad sweet from a touch of raw honey + the natural sweetness of prunes + a bit of shredded coconut, as well as, proteinaceous from the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and hazelnuts.
I’ve seen a number of recipes that use almond flour as one of the primary ingredients in gluten-free and Paleo hamantaschen. It’s a hell of an ingredient especially because it works so well in sooo many recipes.
I wanted to challenge myself to use a few unique ingredients in for my version of the grain-free cookie dough both to see if it could be done (and it can) and to add in some nutritional variety.
It can be so easy to stick with our “go-to” foods (almonds are usually one of them for anyone following the principles of eating real food). It’s not a bad thing per se but if we always go for the same nut then we’ll miss out on the nutritional benefits provided by other options like sesame seeds, poppy seeds and hazelnuts. Plus, providing your jaw with a novel stimulus by way of food texture and hardness keeps your jaw muscles strong and mobile (so you’re not resigned to eating mush and drinking out of a straw when you’re a senior).
Take your sesame seeds and hazelnuts and give them a whirl in your food process until they’ve turned into a nut flour. This may sound weird to you but touch it! It’s so incredibly soft. I just love the way it feels between my fingers and thought you would enjoy experiencing that as well 🙂
As the above image says, use a food processor to combine the nut flours with all of the other dough ingredients. It will all eventually turn into a big ball like the one you see in the image below. When it looks like that take the dough out of the processor, dust some parchment paper with arrowroot flour and shredded coconut, slap the dough ball on there and knead away!
As you’re kneading away I thought you might enjoy learning a few of these awesome facts about the nutritional benefits of some of some of the real foods found in these hamantaschen –
- Prunes are natural laxatives due to their fiber and sorbitol content which pull moisture into the digestive tract and keep all systems running smoothly (just be careful not to eat too many) + they help deliver vitamin A to the body which helps do important things like the eyes from harmful blue light damage It’s also been linked to lowering your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. More here
- Hazelnuts are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, protein, fiber, vitamin E, copper, and magnesium. They’ve been linked to lowering blood pressure, inflammation and risk of cardiovascular disease. More here
- Poppy seeds are full of calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc which together contribute to preventative measures against osteoporosis, delivering oxygen throughout the body, strengthening the immune system, cell growth, and neurological development. More here
- Sesame seeds are high in protein, have powerful cholesterol-lowering effects (due to phytosterol activity) and help balance sex hormone production particularly in women who were post-menopausal (due to better fatty-acid metabolism). More here
Okie, so now, if you’re to the point where you’re dough is no longer sticky draw an arrowroot flour heart over the parchment paper like I did above (it’s the little joys in life that may you smile!), liberally add arrowroot flour to your rolling pin and begin rolling out the dough until it’s about a 1/4″ thick.
Pick your round tool of choice (a cookie cutter works great but I simply used the top of a wide-lipped wine glass), dust it with arrowroot flour and begin cutting out circles. When you’ve used up nearly all the dough set the cookie circles to the side. We’re on to the prune and poppy seed filling!
This part is pretty effortless. Throw all of the filling ingredients except the poppy seeds into a small pot, bring to a boil and cook until the liquid reduces. Once it’s reduced, toss it into a food processor along with the poppy seeds and let her rip until you end up with a paste like what you see below. Taste it! Isn’t it glorious?!
Arrange your cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Grab a spoon and fill each cookie with a dollop of prune and poppyseed filling.
Take a cookie with filling in your hands and fold like so. Pinch the corners together. And pinch again. These require serious pinching. Be bold with it!
When they’ve all been officially turned into hamantaschen bake them for 15 minutes in a 350° oven.
Now serve them up to your family and friends on a pretty plate and dig in!
I really love the crunchy-ness of the cookie mixed with the smooth, jelly-like texture of the filling. The whole thing is subtly sweet which echoes the sweetness and joy of spring and celebrated during this holiday.
It’s a delightful, real food, taste good + do good Purim treat!
Also, before I go, I just have to give a shout out to Simone Miller of Zenbelly and Jennifer Robins of Predominantly Paleo. These two geniuses just debuted their latest cookbook, The New Yiddish Kitchen: Gluten-Free and Paleo Kosher Recipes for the Holidays and Every Day and IT. IS. PHENOMENAL! It’s filled with their takes on Jewish culinary classics like the reuben, bagels, rugelach, and, of course, hamantaschen! Their creativity and chutzpah inspired this recipe 🙂 If you don’t have it already, pick up a copy. It’s a “go-to” in my house and I’ve only had it for about a week and a half!
Cheers + Purim Sameach (Happy Purim)!
- 1 C sesame seeds
- 1 C hazelnuts
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2-3 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 C shredded coconut
- 1/2 C arrowroot flour
- 12 oz prunes
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 C water
- 1 Tbsp date sugar
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1/8 tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 orange
- pinch of salt
- 6 Tbsp poppy seeds
- Use a food processor to grind the sesame seeds into a fine flour.
- Do the same for the hazelnuts.
- Combine both of the nut flours with the egg, baking soda, honey, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt in a food processor. It will turn into a huge ball of nutty dough.
- Lay out a large sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle a small handful of the arrowroot flour + shredded coconut on top of parchment paper. Begin to knead the dough into the arrowroot flour and shredded coconut continuing to sprinkle a bit of each into the dough until you've used them both up and the dough is no longer sticky.
- Sprinkle a rolling pin with arrowroot flour and roll the dough out until it's about a 1/4" thick, liberally flouring the rolling pin with arrowroot flour as you go so the dough won't stick to the rolling pin.
- Use a round cookie cutter or large rimmed glass to cut circles into the dough. Be sure to cover the cookie cutter or glass rim with arrowroot flour. Set the hamentaschen rounds to the side as we prep the filling.
- For the filling, add all of the filling ingredients except the poppy seeds to a small pot and bring to a boil. When the liquids have cooked down (about 5 minutes) and completely evaporated transfer all of the ingredients to a food processor. Add the poppy seeds and process until you get a smooth paste.
- Put a small tablespoon-sized dollop of the prune and poppy seed filling in the middle of each round of dough.
- As I've demonstrated above in the picture, use your hands to form a triangle. You'll really need to do some serious pinching on each of the hamantaschen corners.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange each hamantaschen on top of a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Don't let the dough sit around for too long. It will make it much harder to pinch the corners to turn into a triangle shape.
- This recipe can easily made vegan by substituting honey for maple syrup and the egg for any of these vegan substitutes by our friends over at The Kitchn.