(My paternal grandmother, Minnie, used Kuchen dough for all kinds of coffee cakes and pastries, including hamantaschen. She would have opted for poppyseeds in the filling, or sweet prune lekvar. I prefer to spike half of the yeast dough with poppyseeds and fill them with tart lemon curd. The plain dough cradles a cream cheese filling reminiscent of Minnie's cheesecake. If you prefer, good quality, thick apricot preserves can be used as a filling. I like to cut larger circles (4") of dough instead of the traditional 3"- this recipes should yield approximately 2 dozen pastries.)
First prepare the fillings:
For the Lemon Curd-
½ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat lemon juice and butter over medium heat until butter is melted. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until pale yellow. Gradually add a small amount of hot lemon mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add remaining lemon mixture to egg mixture, whisking, then transfer mixture back to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and just beginning to boil, about 3 minutes. Strain the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer set over a heat resistant bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cold.
For the Cream Cheese Filling-
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons clover honey
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cream cheese, honey, and sugar until smooth. Add egg, salt, vanilla, and lemon zest, beating on low speed just until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl making sure the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate.
For the Hamantaschen Dough (makes approx.. 24 pastries)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
⅛ cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
pinch of sugar
½ cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature
⅜ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon lemon zest
3½ cups flour
½ cup (4 oz.) sour cream or pareve sour cream
1 egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons poppyseeds
egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or cream
For the dough: In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm milk with a pinch of sugar. Set in a warm, draft-free corner for 5 to 10 minutes, until foamy. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, salt, vanilla, lemon zest, and sugar. Beat on low for 3 minutes until well combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl then add the egg. Beat on low to combine then add the yeast/milk mixture. Gradually add the flour and the sour cream, (one third at a time) and beat the dough for 3-4 minutes until smooth; the dough should begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide in half. Return one portion of the dough to the mixing bowl and add 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds. Mix the dough on low just to incorporate the poppy seeds. Transfer each portion of dough to its own lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour, until doubled. Turn out one portion of dough at a time and roll on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8” thick. Use a 4” circle cutter to cut rounds of dough. Transfer the rounds to a parchment lined baking sheet. (You can reroll the scraps once- the dough will shrink a bit on the rerolls.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you roll out and cut circles from the second portion of dough.
Retrieve the poppyseed dough circles and the lemon curd from the refrigerator. Place one teaspoon (no more! or the cookies will unfold in the oven) of lemon curd in the center of each circle of dough. Paint the edge of each circle with a bit of egg wash. Fold the left side of the circle over half of the filling, then the right side to meet the left side, then tuck the bottom of the circle upwards, tucking one corner into the right side to hold it in place. Gently brush the edges of the hamantaschen with egg wash. Repeat with the lemon curd and poppyseed dough. Refrigerate. Retrieve the plain dough circles and the cream cheese filling from the fridge and fill (one teaspoon of filling per circle) and fold as you did the poppyseed circles. Brush the edges of the hamantaschen with egg wash and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place 9 hamantaschen on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 15-18 minutes, just until golden. Repeat with the remaining hamantaschen. Let cool before serving or you risk burning your mouth on the hot filling. Any additional lemon curd can be served alongside or on top of the poppyseed hamantaschen. A drop of good quality cherry jam can top the cream cheese filled hamantaschen.
(Note: Both the lemon curd and cream cheese fillings contain egg; it’s best to cover and refrigerate any leftover hamantaschen.)