What is Hamantashen, and Why Has it Been in the News Lately?

Posted: March 24, 2022 4:23 am

Hamantashen, also called hamantash, is a Jewish triangular pastry, typically filled with jam or a sweet spread, such as Nutella. It gets its name from the Haman, the villain in the traditional story surrounding the holiday of Purim. In Hebrew, the name is translated to mean something similar to “Haman’s ears.” The triangular shaped cookie-pastry hybrid looks like ears or a hat, and it is always accompanied by a sweet filling.

The phrase “Haman’s ears” can be traced to the Roman poet and scholar Immanuel ben Solomon, while the food was first mentioned in a humorous Italian play. Once the cookies took off years later, they were typically filled with poppy seeds, before taking on more of a modern iteration.

A Newsworthy Treat


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While hamantashen is enjoyed at various times of the year, this recipe is usually made around the Jewish holiday of Purim, which lasted from March 16 to 17 in 2022, hence why it was in the news. Purim celebrates the saving of Jewish people from Haman, an Empire official who wanted to kill Jewish people and take over. Purim marks when the Jews were freed in the Book of Esther. By making and eating hamantashen, Jews and celebrants are banishing Haman from their lives for another year. This is supplemented by listening to prayers and services multiple times over two days, as well as giving to those who are in need and sending gifts of food to friends. That makes hamantashen good to eat and gift!

Additionally, making and sending hamantashen has been used as a fundraiser for Ukraine in early 2022, which adds to Purim and Judaism’s message of giving to those in need who are less fortunate. Hamantashen for Ukraine allows bakers worldwide to make hamantashen and send profits to Polish Humanitarian Action to support Ukrainians at the Polish border. It was started as a timely way to mark Purim 2022, but has since continued.

Hamantashen Recipe Ideas

Want to try your hand at making hamantashen? Check out these ideas!

Recipe 1: Hamantashen Recipe

This recipe is for all the beginning hamantashen makers out there. Roll and fold the subtly sweet dough and fill with jam or poppy seeds. Or, use canned pie filling, fruit jelly, chocolate and more. For an extra sweet touch, add chocolate chips to the dough. All you need to make these is butter or margarine, sugar, eggs, orange juice, vanilla extract, baking powder and poppy seed filling (or your filling of choice). Mix, shape, fold, fill and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are a light golden brown. Enjoy!

Recipe 2: Hamantaschen with Three Fillings

This recipe yields about 80 hamantashen, which is enough for you to gift and enjoy yourself. The dough uses oil, meaning it is easier to work with than traditional butter or margarine-rich fillings. Choose from a poppy seed filling, a coconut and nut variation or a chocolate take—or make all three and make goody bags to distribute.

Recipe 3: Gluten Free Hamantashen Cookies

These soft almost shortbread-like cookies offer a buttery taste surrounded by a favorite jam. When it comes to making gluten free cookies, the flour makes all the difference. Make sure it roll it out delicately and use a biscuit cutter to help. If the dough is too dry, add a touch more milk. Press the corners well to seal!

Recipe 4: Samoa Cookie Hamantashen

Fun and drawing on some popular flavors, this cookie has a crispy flakey crust, a toasted coconut and caramel filling and a drizzle of chocolate to top it all off. For a different approach, use pie dough for easier cutting and folding. It adds a rich, buttery element to a classic sticky caramel, plenty of toasted coconut and an oh-so-chocolatey base.

Recipe 5: Cherry Hamantashen

Cherry pie filling or mincemeat makes for a delicious and delightful treat. Pinch the corners to keep the filling in and use roughly two cherries per cookie. The recipe is so simple that the whole family will like eating and assembling these, so savor your time together—and the nights you spend enjoying these with cold glasses of milk.

May you enjoy all the hamantashen you want, bake for a good cause and prepare well in advance for Purim in the future!


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