Log into any social media platform right now, and you will see a wide variety of traditional and postmodern Hamentaschen! Sure poppyseed and prune filling make an appearance, as well as my lifelong favorite apricot. But what really stands out are the rainbow-colored and filled Purim treats featuring food dye, sprinkles, and even colorful vegetables. And what about those chocolate drizzles! What was once just a small reminder of an evil holiday player, Haman, is now a vehicle for baking experimentation and brightly hued cookies.
Jewish baking used to have more of a “you don’t monkey with tradition” mentality, to quote the classic film “Mystic Pizza.” Babka was filled with cinnamon, challah was topped with sesame or poppyseeds and Hamentaschen contained poppyseeds or one of a shortlist of fruits. And the Hamentaschen dough was always “dough” colored.
I remember visiting my grandparents in the midwest as an eight-year-old around Purim time. My grandmother was unique in her own way, a singer who painted and studied Chinese, all just for fun. She and I decided to make Hamentaschen, and she suggested we make them blue. I clearly remember the dark turquoise shade of dry salt crystal filled dough when they were done baking. I thought they were the coolest thing. My mom seemed to think otherwise, as who had ever seen such a thing in the early eighties! But many years later I mentioned this memory when speaking at my grandmother’s funeral, referencing the person “who baked blue Hamentaschen with me in a pink kitchen.”
These days something as simple as food dye is an easy or almost expected twist on any cake, bread or holiday treat. Enjoy this updated recipe, and fill your Hamentaschen however you like.
Blue Hamentaschen Recipe
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
Optional: 1 Tbsp orange juice
Blue food coloring
Fillings such as: poppyseed filling, apricot jam, chocolate chips, peanut butter, hazelnut spread
In a food processor combine the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the optional orange juice. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and combine on the dough setting. Keep combining on the dough setting until a ball of dough forms. Add up to a ¼ cup more of flour if the dough seems too sticky. Transfer the dough to a bowl. You can play around with how many drops of food coloring to mix in depending on the shade of blue you want. You can also divide the dough into smaller amounts and mix in a variety of colors. Mix the coloring with a spoon first to keep it off of you hands, and then combine with your hands.
Roll out the dough to ⅛” thick using flour on the dough and rolling pin. Cut 3” circles with a cookie cutter or glass. Fill with 1 teaspoon of filling. Pinch or fold the edges to make triangles. Place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Chill for 5-10 minutes in the refrigerator, and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350
Allow to cool and enjoy!