Rhubarb Hamantaschen

May 2013 379The picture of Rhubarb Hamantaschen in Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook sang to me. I have a co-worker who occasionally brings in Hamantaschen, which are triangular-shaped cookies with fruit filling traditionally made during the Jewish holiday of Purim. With bundles of rhubarb on hand, I decided to try my hand at Deb’s rhubarb version.

As it turns out, Hamantaschen are not the easiest cookies to tackle. Making the filling went great—just as Deb explained, this particular rhubarb cooking technique (from Good to Grain) results in a consistency ideal for Hamantaschen—and would also be great served over oatmeal, ice cream, etc. The dough, on the other hand, was a headache. As I rolled it out and attempted to form the Hamantaschen walls, the dough easily cracked, resulting in sprung leaks during baking. In the end, I had a decent batch of Hamantaschen to bring to the office, but I can’t say they all looked like the one I photographed above. I would make these again (they were quite delicious), but next time I might experiment with alternative dough options.

Rhubarb Hamantaschen (from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, makes 30 cookies)

1 pound rhubarb stalks (3 cups)
2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup finely ground almonds or almond meal
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Make Filling
Trim rhubarb ends. For thick stalks, cut in half lengthwise. Cut rhubarb into 1/2-inch segments. Place the rhubarb in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat with sugar. Stir to combine, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, increase the heat to medium, remove cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 15 minutes, until rhubarb is broken down and mixture is thick enough so that running a spoon across the bottom of the pot briefly leaves a clear line. Pour filling into a small bowl and cool.

Make dough with food processor
If using sliced almonds, first grind them in the work bowl of your food processor until nearly powdery. Use only 1/2 cup of what you ground, returning it to the work bowl. Add flour, sugar, and salt, and pulse for another minute. Add chunks of butter, and pulse the machine in short bursts until the mixture resembles small pebbles. Add egg and extract, and pulse until the dough starts to come together. Turn dough out onto counter, knead once or twice, and divide into quarters.

Make dough by hand
Mix ground almonds, flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter, two forks, or your fingertips, work butter into flour until it resembles cornmeal. Add eggs and extract, and combine the dough with a wooden spoon. Turn dough out onto counter, and knead until mixture is uniform. Divide into quarters.

Shape Cookies
Place one-quarter of the dough on a well-floured counter, and flour the top of it generously. Roll the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness, and cut out circles with a 2 1/2- to 3-inch round cutter or drinking glass. Using a measuring spoon, dollop 1 teaspoon of the cooled rhubarb filling in the center of each circle. Fold edges up in three places to form a triangular cookie and gently pinch seams together to form corners. Transfer cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place entire tray in freezer for 30 minutes before baking. Repeat with remaining dough.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Bake cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden at edges. Transfer to racks to cool.

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