These buttery chocolate and rosemary hamantaschen cookies are filled with a chocolate halva ganache and crunchy toasted sesame seeds.
Excuse me while I sneak in here real quick with my take on this classic triangular treat just before Purim. Of course I’m talking about hamantaschen.
For the uninitiated, hamantaschen get their name from Haman, the villain of the Purim story, who wore a triangular three-pointed hat.
Though Purim’s signature cookies get their name from the holiday’s villain, you might be more familiar with Esther, the hero of the story (though Vashti remains tragically overlooked as a feminist icon), who saves the Jewish people from Haman’s scheming. Yes, it’s another holiday about the Jewish people surviving an attempted genocide. (You know, just your typical light food blog fare.)
Unlike Passover, which requires us to relive the entire story in excruciating detail, Purim is celebrated by an all-day fast followed by an evening of raucous partying, drinking, cheering, and making merry. Everyone dresses up in costumes, gives each other sweet treats, drinks wine, and boos and jeers every time Haman’s name is mentioned as the Purim story is read aloud.
But I digress.
Traditionally hamantaschen have been filled with some sort of jam or a poppyseed filling called mohn that tricks you by looking like chocolate but not actually being chocolate.
And, if I’m being honest, I’ve always kind of hated the traditional hamantaschen fillings. When we used to get hamantaschen at school, I’d nibble around the edges, trying to only eat the delicious cookie bits.
So when I set out to make hamantaschen for the blog I knew I wanted a light, flaky, buttery cookie. I definitely wanted chocolate-y filling.
And I wanted it to have a cohesive, layered flavor profile from the outside in, rather than tasting like a sugar cookie with any random filling.
I’ve been obsessed with Smitten Kitchen’s olive oil shortbread with rosemary chocolate chunks for a while now, so that was my starting point for flavors.
Shortbread is far too crumbly for hamantaschen, so I turned to Alex Lau’s buttery, flaky hamantaschen dough from Bon Appetit, and added finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate and fresh rosemary to the mix.
For the filling, I took inspiration from the poppy seeds of mohn, but went in a slightly sweeter and nuttier direction.
The filling is made from a crumbled bar of halva (a candy-like bar made from tahini aka sesame paste and sugar) mixed with a semi-sweet chocolate ganache and toasted whole sesame seeds. And to carry the rosemary flavor through from the dough to the filling, there’s even more in the filling too.
how to shape hamantaschen
chocolate rosemary halva hamantaschen baking tips:
- I turned to my favorite set of round cookie cutters for cutting the dough circles. Use a 1.5 tsp cookie scoop to ensure you have the same amount of filling in each cookie. I tried using a 2 tsp scoop, but 2 tsp of filling will stretch and warp your cookies as they bake.
- You can find halva in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores, usually near the cheese, butter, and dairy products. You can get it online at Amazon, Target, or at speciality stores like Sumsum or Seed & Mill. I used marbled halva, but if all you can find are plain or chocolate covered bars that’s fine too.
- DOUGH TEMP: Chill the dough before shaping the hamantaschen. Let the dough rest at room temp for about 20-30 mins before rolling it out. If it’s too warm it will stick to your counter, if it’s too cold it will crack when you try to fold it. Use a bench scraper to help get the cookie rounds off your counter if they stick.
- If you find the dough sticks to your rolling pin and counter when you try to roll it out, try rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment paper.
- The filling will bubble and melt and spread out inside the cookies in the oven, and will harden as it cools, filling any gaps inside the cookie. Make sure the edges of the cookies are sealed so the filling doesn’t leak out.
If your dough is crumbly when you try to roll it out it’s probably still a bit too cold. Knead it on the countertop a few times until it becomes smooth and malleable.
This is likely because your heavy cream wasn’t warm enough before you poured it over or because your chocolate chunks were on the larger side. To fix this, use a double boiler: bring 1″ of water to a rolling boil, put your (glass or metal, heat safe) bowl with your ganache mixture over the mouth of the pot and turn off the stove. Stir over the double boiler until the chocolate melts.
You probably forgot to chill them. Don’t skip this step!
You can do whatever you want, but the triangular shape of hamantaschen is specific to the Jewish holiday of Purim and it’ll be kind of weird if you make them removed from that context. If you’d like to give this flavor combo and concept a try and you aren’t Jewish, I recommend making them in a square shape instead. Just pinch four corners instead of three.
other recipes you might like
- spiced chocolate chunk cookies
- peppermint patty stuffed brownie cookies
- orange-cardamom ice cream with hot fudge swirl
- pear and gruyere tart
- apples and honey babka
UPDATE 2/23/21 — I gave this recipe a quick post-pastry school update, just to simplify the ganache making process and to better explain some of the steps for making the dough.
chocolate and rosemary hamantaschen with halva ganache
make the cookie dough
- Cream butter, sugar, and rosemary in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy (5 mins). Scrape down sides. Add eggs one at a time, letting each one fully incorporate and scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half of the dry mixture to the wet mixture, running the mixer on low speed just until combined. Then add the rest of the dry mixture and continue mixing on low speed just until the dough comes together. There will still be some streaks of flour in the dough, that's okay. They'll incorporate when you add the chocolate.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the chopped chocolate, and stir with a spatula until evenly distributed.
- Divide the dough in half and press into two 1" thick discs. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate at least 1-2 hours.
Make the filling
- Place chopped chocolate in a medium sized bowl, set aside.
- Submerge rosemary spring in heavy cream, snipping it in half or thirds if needed. Heat in the microwave in 10 second bursts (use a bowl with enough room to keep it from bubbling over) until very warm to the touch.
- Remove the rosemary sprigs (do not discard). Pour heavy cream over the chocolate. Let sit without stirring for 2 minutes. Then stir in circular motions until it becomes smooth, shiny, and cohesive. This may take a few minutes. Pull the leaves off the rosemary stems, and mince the leaves finely. Set aside.
- Combine halva, sugar, salt, and minced rosemary in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse until it has the consistency of wet, clumpy sand. Add the toasted sesame seeds and process until combined.
- Fold halva mixture into the chocolate ganache until evenly combined. This may take a few minutes. Make sure there aren't any lumps.
- Let cool to room temperature before using.
Assemble your hamantaschen
- Preheat oven to 350°F and arrange oven racks so they're at the top third and bottom third of the oven.
- About 30 minutes prior to rolling your dough, take the dough out of the fridge and let come to room temperature.
- Lightly dust your counter and rolling pin with flour and roll the dough to about ¼" thick. If the dough is still slightly chilled it might be crumbly — knead it with your hands on the counter bit until it softens up.Use a 3½" round cookie cutter to cut dough rounds. Knead any scraps briefly to recombine, then wrap in plastic and return to the fridge to chill slightly.
- Arrange the dough rounds on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Scoop 1½" tsp chocolate halva filling into the center of each round.
- Make an egg wash by whisking together 1 egg with a pinch of salt and splash of water. Brush around the filling on the surface of each cookie.
- Fold the sides of each circle up into a triangular shape, pinching to firmly seal the edges shut. If there are gaps of air inside the cookie that's okay — the filling will melt and fill in as they bake.
- Brush the outside surfaces and edges of the cookies with the egg wash.
- Repeat until all the dough and filling has been used up. You may need more than one cookie sheet. Chill in the refrigerator (not freezer) for at least 20 minutes.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes, rotating the baking sheets and moving the sheets from one rack to the other halfway through.
- Let the finished cookies cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Prep time includes assembly.
- Bon Appetit says: “Dough can be made 2 days ahead; keep chilled. Cookies can be made 2 days ahead; let cool and store airtight at room temperature.”
- If you’re not Jewish and you feel weird making a Jewish holiday treat, you can shape these into squares by pinching four corners instead of three.
- I used Joyva Halvah which comes in an 8 oz pack with 2 bars in it. But you can find halva in many grocery stores usually in the international aisle with the kosher food or in the refrigerated section. You can also get it online at Target, or at speciality stores like Sumsum or Seed & Mill.