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Hamantaschen Cookies: Not Just for Purim

Buttery cookie dough, wrapped around a sweet and chewy filling: By any name, these treats are fun to make and delightful to eat — yet they’re named for one of the arch-villains of the Hebrew Bible.

According to tradition, the three-cornered shape of Hamantaschen cookies is a reference to the hat worn by Haman, grand vizier to an early Persian king, who schemed to kill off all the Jews in the realm.

Each year on Purim, Jews celebrate the story of how Haman’s evil plans were foiled by Esther and Mordecai. (So these commemorative cookies could have been named Esthertaschen or Mordecaitaschen; perhaps nobody wanted to choose between the two heroes of the story.)

Hamantaschen cookies are as central to this holiday as matzohs are to Passover — but there’s nothing in tradition that says they can’t be a more-than-annual treat.

The basic cookie dough can be wrapped around an almost endless variety of fillings: Spoon a little jam or preserves from the jar, drop in a bit of flavored cheese or try this mouthwatering recipe from Ronit’s brother, pastry chef Gadi Kakon, using the traditional poppy-seed filling:

Get the recipe: Hamantaschen

Note: Poppy seeds must be ground to powder before baking. The seeds can be ground in a home coffee grinder.