Ok, I’m going to come right out and say it. Hamentashen are not my favorite holiday treat. Anything that has prune, date or poppy seed in its name is suspect with me. That being said, I still respect the tradition of eating hamentashen at Purim. It is in that spirit that I embarked on a quest for the best hamentashen I could find in the Twin Cities. And because none of you dropped off any of your mother’s famous prune/date/poppy seed versions at my doorstep, I am reviewing product obtained only from retail outlets and the sisterhood at my house of worship. Here are the completely arbitrary guidelines:
Although I tried apricot, date, poppy seed and chocolate (!) I am only reviewing poppy seed because I could find poppy seed from all sources.
The judging was based on taste and appearance. As for judging on authenticity…I wouldn’t call myself an authority on anything filled with prunes, dates or poppy seeds. What qualifies me to render my judgments here? Absolutely nothing other than I have a pretty decent palate.
So here is the good and the bad news:
Fourth Place: Byerly’s. What was wrong with their hamentashen? Almost everything. They looked like someone stepped on a pirate’s hat. The filling was cloyingly sweet and tasted of nothing discernible. But the worst offense was the pastry. It tasted of uncooked flour and fell apart in my hand.
Third Place: The Sisterhood. Sorry friends, but I must be honest. The appearance of the pastry was the clear over-all winner of any we tried…made with loving hands but it was a little tough and dry. The filling was so off-putting that everyone made a “what is this?!” face. It tasted oddly of clove. I’ve checked some poppy seed recipes, and clove is NOT one of the indicated ingredients.
Second Place: Crossroads Deli. You could almost get poppy seeds from the filling, it wasn’t too sweet. The pastry was decent, but again, it didn’t have the traditional “three pointed hat” kind of look. Overall, it wasn’t objectionable.
First Place: Cecil’s Deli. The filling was lush and you knew what it was. Rich, but not too sweet. The pastry was dense but in a good way. You wanted to finish the cookie, even when the filling was gone (not the case with any others we tried). A post-baking sprinkle of sugar gave it just the right crunch. They could use a little work on the look, but the over-all quality of the product more than made up for the silly lopsided shape. Cecil’s almost won me over!
As an aside…I wish I could have included Mort’s deli in my taste test, but apparently they don’t do hamentashen. They do have an awesome Kentucky Brown, however.
If you want control of your Hamentashen domain, make it yourself with this recipe. This looks like a pretty easy version…no clove to be found anywhere.
That’s our hamentashen smack down. Next in judge’s chambers? Chopped Liver! Suggestions?