Salted Rye and Poppy Seed Hamantaschen

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who like poppy seed hamantaschen and those who don’t. I am strictly in the former camp. To me, poppy seed hamantaschen are the most authentic kind of hamantaschen. They’re the ones I think of when I think of Purim, and they’re the ones I make when I’m feeling nostalgic for something traditional. If you’re like me: welcome. This recipe is for you.
These hamantaschen are simple. I use my regular hamantaschen dough but inspired by old world flavors, I swap hearty rye and spelt flours in for the all purpose flour. The filling is easy, too. Milk, lemon, sugar and a splash of rye flavor the poppy seeds. The seeds get ground- you’ll need a spice grinder or a strong blender for that- to release their full scent and flavor.
I like to egg wash these and sprinkle them with flaky salt (flavor contrast! Love it, need it) but you could skip that step- it’ll give you a slightly crispier cookie. Either way, if you like poppy seed hamantaschen, you’ll really like these. They’re classic and delicious and most importantly: they taste like Purim. I can’t really describe that last sentence, but if you know, you know.

Happy Hamantasch season! For more hot takes and some history on poppy seed hamantaschen, check out this piece I wrote for Jewish Food.

Yields: around 20 large hamantaschen

For the hamantaschen: 

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅔ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup dark rye flour
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds

For the filling:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup poppy seeds, ground in a spice mill, coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon rye or whiskey
  • 1 egg, whisked, for egg washing
  • flaky salt, for sprinkling
  1. Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly, scraping down the sides to incorporate as needed.
  2. Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Add dry mixture to wet mixture along with the poppy seeds, and beat until incorporated.
  3. Divide into two halves and shape both halves into flat discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours, until firm, or up to 24 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling: add the milk, sugar and lemon zest to a small pan over medium heat. When the milk mixture starts steaming, reduce heat to low and add in the poppy seeds. Bring to a simmer and stir frequently, until the mixture has thickened, around 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice, sea salt, vanilla extract and rye.
  5. Stir and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool completely, or refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days.
  6. To assemble: unwrap one of the chilled dough disks and place on a piece of parchment paper. Lightly dust the top and bottom of the dough with flour. Begin to gently roll the dough into a 1/4″ thick round, turning the dough as you go and using more as needed to ensure it doesn’t stick to the parchment paper.
  7. Use a 3″ cookie cutter or glass to cut circles, placing the circles on a prepared, baking paper lined sheet spaced 1 inch apart. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill until firm while you re-roll scraps and repeat with remaining dough.
  8. Dollop 2 teaspoons of poppy seed filling in the center of each circle. Fold sides up and over each other, forming a triangular shape. Arrange on baking sheet with an inch or so between cookies.
  9. Heat oven to 350℉. Brush the hamantaschen with the egg wash. Sprinkle with flaky salt after egg washing. Pop the cookie sheet(s) into the freezer for 15 minutes before baking to allow the hamantaschen to firm up.
  10. Bake the hamantaschen for 12-15 minutes, until they’re crisp and lightly golden at the edges. Let cool on racks. Eat, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

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