I love taking hamantaschen for Purim — typically filled with prune, poppy seeds, or apricot and enclosed by a pretty plain dough — and pushing the envelope with inspiration from other desserts. In this case, I wanted to transform the classic holiday cookie into a raspberry cheesecake flavored hamantaschen.
I wanted to make sure that the three main flavors of classic raspberry cheesecake — graham crackers, cream cheese, and raspberries — shine in the dough, filling, and topping of these hamantaschen. So I incorporated graham cracker crumbs and freeze-dried raspberries, both for flavor and some really pretty color, into the hamantaschen dough. The filling is swirled cream cheese and raspberry, the perfect sweet-tart combo. I love the crunch and sparkle of raw sugar, so I sprinkled that on the outside of the hamantaschen before baking, and then topped off the cooled cookies with a drizzle of reserved cream cheese filling and a dusting of more graham cracker crumbs and crushed freeze-dried raspberries. The result is a hamantaschen treat for Purim that is as beautiful to look at as it is delightful to eat.
As for creating the perfect no-leak, keeps-its-shape hamantaschen, here are some of my tried-and-true tips:
- Roll the hamantaschen dough ¼” thick — a thinner dough won’t keep its shape, so don’t roll out too thin.
- Pipe no more than ½ tsp of filling into each cookie. It won’t seem like nearly enough, but as the filling expands when the cookies bake, starting with less will ensure that the sides don’t get pushed out and leak out onto your baking sheet.
- Egg wash is key — it’s the “glue” that keeps the hamantaschen together, so don’t skip this step.
- Freeze the hamantaschen cookies before baking — at least 15 minutes but as long as overnight. This step will ensure your hamantaschen cookies will keep their shape each and every time.
For the dough:
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- 9 full-sheet graham crackers, processed into fine crumbs
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1.3 ounce package freeze-dried raspberries
For the filling:
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 5 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 Tbsp raspberry jam
- egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water
- raw sugar, for sprinkling
- Make the dough: Beat the sugar, cream cheese, and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, 1 cup of the graham cracker crumbs, and salt (reserve the leftover crumbs). Beat until incorporated. Add 1 cup of the raspberries and beat just until combined (reserve the leftover raspberries).
- Divide the dough into two discs and roll each ¼” thick between two sheets of parchment paper. Chill until firm, at least one hour (and up to three days).
- Make the filling: Beat the sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Set half the mixture aside. Use a disposable pastry or ziplock bag and alternate small spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture with the raspberry jam. Snip a small opening in the bottom.
- Place one of the parchment sheets of dough onto a baking sheet. Remove the top sheet and cut out 2-2 ½” circles, removing the trimmings. Pipe ½ tsp-sized mounds of the filling onto the center of each circle. Fold the dough into a triangle, pinching the corners firmly. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with the raw sugar. Repeat with the remaining sheet of dough, and then again with the dough trimmings. Place the cookies in the freezer for at least 15 minutes (or up to overnight). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake the hamantaschen for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Warm the reserved cream cheese mixture until runny. Place the remaining raspberries in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin. Use a spoon to drizzle the cream cheese mixture over the cookies, then sprinkle with the reserved graham cracker crumbs and crushed raspberries. Chill until set.