If you celebrate Purim, do you know it's coming up in like 2 days?!!! Why is that all the holidays keep sneaking up on me?!! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, no worries. The good news is that for all of us, it's hamantaschen time!! Today we're going a little off-script with a very nontraditional, but totally delicious filling. If tender, buttery cookies shaped like triangles and filled with dollops of vanilla bean cheesecake sound good to you, read on and I'll tell you all about how to make them and about Purim too.
First let's tackle Purim. Basically, it's a joyous Jewish holiday commemorating the saving of the Jewish people thousands of years ago from the evil, three-cornered hat wearing, Haman--hence the triangular shaped cookies. Generally they're filled with something fruity, like prunes, apricots or raspberry jam or with a sweet poppyseed based mixture and I've got a great basic traditional recipe on the site here. But I also like to play around with different fillings, so if you're feeling adventurous, give these Brownie Hamantaschen and these Raspberry Chocolate ones a try too.
But today we're all about vanilla bean cheesecake--smooth, creamy and full of wonderful vanilla flavor. If you've been hesitant to make homemade hamantaschen, I want to assure you that these are not hard to whip up, not even the shaping of them, even if you're challenged in the spacial relations department (as those who know me lovingly put it!!). The dough is very forgiving and won't toughen up no matter how much you handle it.
Once you've mixed the dough and let it chill for a bit, you roll it out and cut it out with a cookie cutter or a wide mouthed glass, so that you wind up with lots of circles.
Then you take little spoonfuls of the creamy, dreamy vanilla bean speckled cheesecake filling and plop them in the center of each circle.
After that, you simply fold up the edges and pinch together to form triangles so that the filling puffs up in the middle. And if they don't come out perfectly triangular--who cares? They're supposed to be homey and everyone will love them anyway!
My home crew certainly did!! Every vanilla bean speckled bite!! Absolutely wonderful with a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon!! A great new addition to the hamantaschen collection! Happy Purim!
Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Hamantaschen
Makes anywhere from 24-30 depending on how large you form them.
Prep Time for dough: 10 minutes, plus at least 45 minutes chilling time; Prep Time for filling: 5 minutes; Assembly Time: 12-15 minutes; Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
For the dough
- 13 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon unbleached, all purpose flour
For the filling
- 1 cup full fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/2 extra large egg yolk or 1 regular egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. To make the dough: Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar together until creamy on medium speed. Add the egg, vanilla and salt and mix well. Gradually add the flour on low speed and mix until combined.
2. Turn the dough out onto a counter or board, form into a flat square and wrap well in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 45 minutes. You can keep the dough for up to a week like this.
3. While the dough is chilling, make the filling: In a clean bowl, using clean beaters, beat the cream cheese, butter and sugar together well until smooth and creamy. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the mixture. Discard the pod or add it to some sugar to make vanilla sugar. Add the yolk and extract as well as mix until smooth. Cover and store in the fridge until ready to use.
4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Lightly flour a counter or board.
5. Remove the dough from the fridge and if it's very hard, let it sit out for a few minutes in the plastic wrap to soften up. You can also pound it a bit with a rolling pin to soften it. Remove the plastic. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll out with the rolling pin until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter or wide-rimmed glass to cut out as many circles as possible (you may need to flour the cookie cutter a bit too). Re-roll out the scraps and cut out more circles until all of the dough is used up.
6. Place a rounded teaspoonful of the cheesecake filling in the center of each circle and fold up the edges, pinching together three corners to make a triangle shape but allowing the filling to show through in the center. Make sure you pinch the seams of the dough together tightly so that the cookies keep their shape when baking. Arrange on the baking sheets (these don't spread much) and bake for about 20 minutes, until bottoms are golden and edges are beginning to brown as well--these won't ever get very dark. Transfer trays to wire racks and let cookies cool completely.
7. Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.
Note: Recipe adapted from Zingerman's Bakehouse. I used a full vanilla bean in the filling instead of 1/2 because I really wanted a strong vanilla flavor.