This post is for those of you out there who want to make hamantaschen without mixing or rolling out dough, without worrying if the filling is bake-proof and without worrying about the hamantaschen exploding open in the oven.
Part of the answer is using puff pastry dough, and part of the answer is in the method of baking it. If you have ever tried baking hamantaschen with puff pastry dough, you know that it can be frustrating. Shaped in the traditional manner, from a circle folded into a triangle, puff pastry hamantaschen have an infuriating tendency to explode open when they bake.
So frustrating, right? But a solution is at hand! Instead of working against the tendency of puff pastry to puff, this technique works with it.
Following the method for making puff pastry cases (bouchees and vols-a-vent), the puff pastry is cut into triangles, with a triangle cut out into the center. As the pastry bakes in the oven, the sides of the triangle rise straight up to form a rim around a hollow triangular center. The hollow center can then be filled with whatever you like.
Let me repeat and emphasize this point: the puff pastry hamantaschen are baked without filling. You add the filling later. Baking the shells before filling means that you can use fillings that can’t be baked, like pastry cream with fresh fruit on top or chocolate mousse (to see how pretty puff pastry shells can look filled with mousse or topped with fruit, take a look at Pastry Pals post about vols-au-vent filled with chocolate chantilly or passion fruit curd and pinepple).
You could also go with a savory filling. For example, for an appetizer, you could fill the cases with mushrooms in cream sauce.
There are two approaches to making the puff pastry cases. You can use one layer of puff pastry or, for a higher, more elegant case, you can use two layers of puff pastry. With the one layer approach, the center triangle is marked before baking and then, after the pastry case is baked, the triangle is cut out with a knife. With the two layer approach, the bottom triangle of puff pastry dough is the base, and the cut out triangle frame of dough on the top is the rim.
If you go with the single layer approach, you can get 2 1/2 dozen hamantaschen out of a box of puff pastry. You can fill the triangles with different flavors of jam for a very easy and quick batch of hamantaschen.
Hamantaschen Puff Pastry Shells
1 box puff pastry
If you are using Pepperidege Farm puff pastry, you will have two sheet of puff pastry, each about 9 3/4″x9 3/4″. If you are using the single sheet approach, you can get about 30 triangles from the two sheets. If you are using the double layer approach, you can get 15.
First, the single layer approach: Brush each sheet with beaten egg. Next, cut each sheet into three rectangles, each about 3 .25″ x 9.75″. Cut each rectangle into five triangles. Actually, you will get five triangles and two half triangles from each rectangle. Each triangle will be about 3.25″ on the base (the other two sides will be slightly longer–these aren’t equilateral triangles; for equilateral triangles I think the rectangles need to be 2.75″x9.75″). Mark a smaller triangle in the center of each triangle, about 1/4″ in from the edge. Don’t cut through to the bottom, just cut into the top layer of the dough. Place the puff pastry triangles on a baking sheet lined with nonstick foil or parchment and bake at 400 degrees or 375 degrees in convection mode for about 15 minutes, or until the triangles have puffed and browned. Use a sharp knife to cut the smaller triangles out of the center of the hamantaschen pastry cases. You now have puff pastry cases that can be filled as you like.
Second, the double layer approach: brush one layer of puff pastry with water and place over the other layer of puff pastry. Brush the top of the puff pastry layer with egg, being careful to not get any egg on the edges/sides of the dough. Egg on the sides of the puff pastry acts as a glue that inhibits the puffing of the dough. Cut the dough as indicated above into 3 1/4″ triangles with smaller triangles cut out of the centers. When cutting the center triangles, cut through just the top layer of dough. Remove the smaller triangles before baking. You can separately bake them, if you like. Bake the triangles, placed as indicated about, on lined baking sheets, at 400 degrees (or 375 degrees convection mode) for about 20 minutes, or until the puff pastry cases are puffed and browned. The center of the triangles will have puffed up. Use a knife to press it down or cut out excess dough. You now have puff pastry cases that can be filled as desired.
Note: if you want to skip the egg glaze, you can. The tops just won’t be as well browned.
Basic recipe and baking tips
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