baking · cooking · Dessert · My Mother's Kitchen

My Mother’s Kitchen: Hamantaschen Cookies

Holidays don’t mean too much to me, we didn’t celebrate them when I was growing up. My Mom and I did though often bake and cook together, as she liked to make things for us and her family, and holidays were usually when ingredients were on sale. I don’t have a lot of family left now. Out of the 4 grandkids of my Grandmother, I was the only one to have kids, and only 2 of her kids had kids (My Mom and my Uncle). So many of my family have passed on. So holidays are still Meh to me. In the end, it is just Kirk, I, the kids and my brother. Still, I enjoy the creativity part of the holidays. And I know the guys appreciate it.

Most years my Mom and I would make Hamantaschen Cookies together. She would mix up the dough with a heavy wooden spoon, let it chill, then roll the dough out. Ours were never perfect, different sizes and thickness, some with too much jam, oozing out. It had been a long time since I had one, I don’t think we had made them since I got out of high school. My mind got to thinking about them and I tried recreating her recipe, based on long-ago memories of what she used. I saw a recipe in issue 153 of Saveur Magazine that came this month, you can see them on the top row of photos on the cover. The recipe looked closer to hers than any I had seen before. And yes, I know they are not a “Christmas Cookie” but hey, it should be!


They were tasty, but I knew it wasn’t exact to what she made. Still, I was happy with the cookies. They were what I was craving, a soft pastry style cookie with a sweet filling. Yes, I know…a traditional would use prune or poppy-seed filling. We honestly rarely did, often it was homemade blackberry jam or what we had on hand.



Use the best ingredients you have. This meant organic butter, cream cheese and handmade jam.


Hamantaschen Cookies (As Adapted)


  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened, preferably organic
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened, preferably organic
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar, preferably organic
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup preserves or jam, used Peach
  • 1 egg white, beaten, preferably organic


Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, cut to fit.

Add the butter, cream cheese, sugar and salt to a large mixing bowl, beat until fluffy, add in vanilla.

Add in flour, beat in till mixed.

Form dough into a thin disk on a piece of plastic wrap, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Liberally flour a work surface, roll dough out to a 3/16th thickness, cut out circles with a 2½” cookie or biscuit cutter. Roll out scraps till you have used up dough.

Place 12 rounds on each baking sheet. Place about ½ tsp jam in the center of each round.

Brush edges with egg white, then fold in edges to form a triangular package, leaving a small opening in the center.

Refrigerate cookies for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°, bake one sheet at a time, for about 15 minutes, and cookies are lightly browned. Let cool to firm up, transfer to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

And….I did find her recipe. In the back of my mind I could see a small hardcover cookbook she kept, through all our moves, tucked in with the cookbooks. The publishing house has brought the books back to life, in Kindle format on Amazon. For $2.99 I picked up Simple Jewish Cookery (Peter Pauper Press Vintage Editions).


And inside it sat “her” recipe. This will be made. And I’ll do it the ‘right way’ and make the filling. And wonder how my Mom had so much patience when she cooked. And I smiled a bit as I realized I had also found her Borscht recipe as well. $2.99 well spent.


7 thoughts on “My Mother’s Kitchen: Hamantaschen Cookies

  1. I like this story. There’s something about making the old family recipes. Every time I roll out a pie crust, I think of my grandma.
    She was a great baker. Her Christmas tradition was an old-fashioned steamed carrot pudding with lemon sauce. She had 20 grandkids, and as kids, none of us really liked it honestly. But one of my cousins dug up her recipe last week, and we couldn’t pass it around fast enough. I’m sure we all made it for Christmas and felt like Grandma was with us.

  2. Wow! I can’t believe you found the book that has the recipe in it! What a treasure!

    It’s so heartwarming…to make a dish your family used to make. This happened to me the other day making my Mom’s lasagna recipe. Something she only made during Christmas. I took that first bite, closed my eyes & swear I could hear her sitting next to me…like it brought her back to life.

    Be sure to share in a post the remake with your Mom’s recipe! I’d love to see it!

  3. I love the story of you and your mom baking together. I’m glad you found the original source for her recipe. Memories and love are often tied to good food. I love that. 🙂

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