Sweet Potato and Parmesan Hamantaschen

Sweet Potato and Parmesan Hamantaschen
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sweet potato and Parmesan hamantaschen
The first batch from the oven.

Hamantaschen? What the heck are Hamantaschen? Basically, little filled, triangular-shaped cookies traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim (we looked it up on Wikipedia to check as, not being Jewish, we have only very rudimentary knowledge of Jewish foods and customs). So, now that we know these are cookies; what’s up with the savory filling?

As soon as we saw this recipe in Modern Jewish Cooking, by Leah Koenig, we knew that we had to try a batch. We’ve known about hamantaschen for years, but always thought of them as having poppy seed or fruit filling. Sweet potato and Parmesan, though, sounds new and different and very tasty. If you agree, read on to learn how you can scratch up a batch yourself. Just be aware, you should make the dough the day before baking (you can make the filling prior, too).

Sweet Potato and Parmesan Hamantaschen

Yield: 2 dozen

Sweet Potato and Parmesan Hamantaschen


    For the dough
  • 2 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbs dried herbs
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • For the filling
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped (about 2 Tbs)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) grated Parmesan cheese

Abbreviated Instructions

For the dough

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, herbs, and salt.

In a larger bowl, whisk together water, vegetable oil, eggs, and sugar.

Add flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir to form a dough. Transfer to a clean work surface and knead few time until smooth.

Divide dough in half, shape into two disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

For the filling

Place sweet potato and garlic in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small skillet. When hot, add shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, mash together cooked sweet potato, garlic, shallot, thyme, and Parmesan cheese. Adjust taste with salt and pepper.

For assembly

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Working with one piece of dough on a lightly floured work surface, roll to a thickness of 1/8 of an inch. Use a biscuit cutter or glass to cut 3-inch disks and transfer to prepared sheets.

Place 1 teaspoon of sweet potato filling in the center of each disk. Fold up the left side, then the right side, then the bottom of each disk to form a triangle, leaving some of the filling exposed. Press the corner of each triangle to seal.

Re-roll scraps of dough and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 20-24 minutes, until golden-brown at the corners. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a baking rack to cool.


Ingredient discussion:

Herbs? What kind of herbs? Well, use what you like; we used rosemary for our inaugural batch, but any strongly-flavored herb, such as thyme, oregano, or sage, should work just fine. The recipe calls for a shallot, and, if we’d had one in the house, we would have used it, but we didn’t, so a couple of tablespoons of onion worked as the understudy. For eggs, we really, really recommend finding some that come from pastured hens. Parmesan, as always, does not come in green shaker cans.

Procedure in detail:

Make dough:
dough ingredients
This is a simple but sturdy dough; those eggs really help the dough stand up and roll nicely.

Whisk dry ingredients. Not all the dry ingredients; the sugar will go in with the eggs. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, your selected herbs, and the salt. Whisk pretty thoroughly to get the baking powder dispersed throughout the dough.

making dough
Whisk, whisk, whisk, so the baking powder and salt are uniformly distributed, and the sugar dissolves in the egg mixture.

Whisk liquid ingredients. In a larger bowl — all the dough ingredients will end up in here — whisk together the eggs, water, and sugar until uniform and light in color, about a minute.

Combine. Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture and stir to make a dough. It should come together easily, but it shouldn’t be sticky, maybe just slightly tacky.

hamantaschen dough
Only a minute of kneading should result in a nice smooth dough.

Knead. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until smooth; just a minute or so should be more than enough. Divide the dough ball into two equal pieces and shape each into a disk about an inch thick.

hamantaschen dough disks
Each disk of dough will make about a dozen hamantaschen; just be sure to refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Wrap and chill. Wrap each dough disk in plastic and place it in the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. This resting period allows the flour to hydrate fully and the gluten to relax so the dough will be easier to roll.

Make filling:
cooking sweet potatoes and garlic
Yep, drop in the whole clove of garlic; we’ll mash it later.

Simmer sweet potato. Place the sweet potato pieces in a small saucepan along with the garlic cloves — yes, whole — and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the sweet potato is very tender and can be mashed easily, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain well.

onions and thyme
After frying the onions, we mixed them with the dried thyme — fresh would be ideal, of course.

Fry onion. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the shallot (or onion), season with a bit of salt and pepper, and fry, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

making hamantaschen filling
We mashed the potatoes and garlic before adding the cheese, mainly to ensure the garlic was completely mashed.

Mash. Place the sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, and Parmesan cheese into a medium bowl and mash completely with a fork, resulting in a thick paste. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Roll dough. Work with one piece of dough at a time, and, on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough until it’s about 1/8-inch thick. It can be tricky getting it this thin, especially in the middle of the dough, but do the best you can.

cutting hamantaschen dough
We used a glass to cut out circles of dough, re-rolling the scraps as needed.

Cut circles. If you have a 3-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, you can use that, or, you can use a drinking glass that’s about 3 inches in diameter. Whatever you use, cut out as many circles as you can, re-rolling the dough scraps as needed, then placing the circles on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about an inch of space between each. Repeat with the remaining disk of dough.

folding hamantaschen
The four steps to folding a hamantaschen. We suggest always doing the folding in the same order for that uniform look.

Fill. Place about a teaspoon of filling in the center of each dough disk. To shape the hamantaschen, fold in the left side of the disk, then the right, and finally the bottom, forming a triangle, while making sure to leave some of the filling showing. Finally, press down on each of the corners to seal the dough.

Bake. Slide into the oven and bake, rotating from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until lightly browned on the corners, about 20 to 24 minutes.

baked hamantaschen
Parchment paper is wonderful stuff. You can even re-use it several times before it becomes too brittle and browned.

Cool. Let the hamantacschen cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, before either removing them to a rack to cool some more, or serving.

We made these hamantaschen as an appetizer for an evening meeting — of course we tried the ones that didn’t look as nice as the others; those are chef’s snacks — and they seemed to be a big hit. No leftovers, and one person proclaimed them “righteous hamantaschen,” which, in our book, corresponds to five stars. Scratch ’em out and see for yourself.

Worth the trouble?

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