Makes 15 cookies (adapted from Sarabeth Levine)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
For assembling the cookies-
a small dish of water (for sealing the cookies)
egg wash made from one egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for glazing)
Place the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter until smooth, then add the brown sugar and orange zest, beating until well combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the vanilla and the egg; beat to combine on low speed. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, alternating with the peanut butter and orange juice. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, mixing just until the dough comes together. Using a rubber spatula, turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, knead it a few times, shape it into a disc and wrap it. Refrigerate for at least half an hour while you prepare the filling.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Filling (from Alice Medrich)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons peanut butter, smooth or chunky
⅛ cup powdered sugar
Garnish- 4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted
In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the butter and the unsweetened chocolate.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk in the egg and then add the flour, whisking until the mixture is smooth. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter with the powdered sugar. Add the peanut butter/powdered sugar to the chocolate mixture, Cover and chill the filling until ready to use.
Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out the dough to a thickness of ⅛ inch. (If you find the dough sticky, place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough as you roll it out.) Use a 3½” or a 3¾” cutter to cut out circles of the dough. Divide the circles between two parchment lined baking sheets, about ½” apart from each other. Retrieve the filling from the refrigerator. Use a small cookie scoop or a spoon to place one rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of each cookie circle. Use a narrow pastry brush or your clean pinky finger to outline the edge of each cookie with a dab of water to help seal the cookies. I like to fold the left side in first, partially covering the filling, then bring the right side over in the same way. Fold up the bottom, slightly tucking in a bit of the bottom of the cookie under the right side before pinching the points together. (Don’t be shy with the pinching.) Being careful not to drip on the chocolate filling, use a narrow pastry brush to glaze the edges of the cookie with the egg wash. Place the baking sheets in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the cookies to firm up before baking. This is an important step; if you are impatient and bake them off straight away, you run the risk of unfolded Hamantaschen and wayward filling.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and consider making yourself a hot or iced beverage; you’ve earned it. Retrieve the Hamantaschen from the fridge and bake them on the middle and bottom racks of the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets half way through so they bake evenly. The cookies should be golden and the filling will be set in the middle. Cool on a rack; drizzle with melted chocolate if you wish.