My hamantaschen saga began weeks ago.

Last year, some of you requested a good poppy seed hamantasch recipe, so I faced my fear and got to work. Unfortunately, after two batches gone awry, I made the executive decision to move on and try some other ideas. Three batches of dough and assorted fillings later, I was about ready to give up.

But then I came up with this idea, and I'm thrilled with the result. Apple pie hamantaschen!

Now, these are not just hamantaschen with an apple filling. This is pie-crust dough, with real apple-pie filling. Full disclosure - this is definitely more work than making regular hamantaschen. The dough is much more fragile and you need to be very careful and precise. If you prefer traditional hamantaschen, check our my recipe from last year.

For the pie crust dough you'll need flour, sugar, salt, very cold butter or margarine and ice water. You'll also need a food processor. Put the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor. Pulse once or twice to combine. Cut the butter/margarine into squares and add to the food processor. It's very important that the butter/margarine be cold. You can cut it and stick it in the freezer for half an hour, or if your fridge is very cold, take it out, cut very quickly with minimal touching, and immediately add it to the mixture. Pulse 6-8 times. Mixture should be very crumbly with visible, pea-sized pieces of butter/margarine. Add the ice water one or two tablespoons at a time, pulsing after each addition. After the first few tablespoons, try squeezing some of the crumbs together. If they stick, your dough is ready. If not, add some more water and try again.

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At this point, the dough should still be crumbly and piecey, with visible pieces of butter/margarine. Tip it out onto a clean counter or table and divide it into four piles. Press each pile together to form a ball. Do not knead or overwork the dough. That will make your pastry tough and chewy, instead of light and flakey. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap, or put each ball in a Ziploc bag, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

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Meanwhile, prepare the filling. You'll need apples, very finely diced, sugar, flour, lemon juice, nutmeg and cinnamon. The apples need to be finely diced so that more can fit inside each hamantasch.

Mix all the ingredients together, until apples are fully coated. Refrigerate mixture until you're ready to fill the hamantaschen.

Remove the first ball of dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes, to make it easier to roll. Cut two large pieces of parchment paper and put the dough between them. Use your rolling pin on top of the paper to roll the dough. This way the dough doesn't stick to the rolling pin. Roll dough no thicker than 1/8 of an inch.

Use a large cookie cutter, or a small bowl, to cut the circles. Mine are 4 1/2 inches in diameter. I don't recommend making them smaller, because you'll end up with too much crust and not enough filling.

Gently run a metal spatula or butter knife under each circle, to make sure it's not stuck to the paper.

Place about a tablespoon of filling, or slightly more, in the center of each circle. No need to hold back, it won't overflow like jelly sometimes does, and you want to make sure you end up with a good filling to crust ratio.

Use the spatula or butter knife to gently ease each side up, and pinch the corners together. This is not cookie dough, you do need to be careful and patient. If the dough cracks a little, don't worry, you can just patch it back together with your fingers.

(NOTE: You may wish to check out this post for photographs of how to fold the hamantaschen. )

Carefully put the hamantaschen on a greased baking tray.

Beat the egg white with a fork or whisk, and brush it onto every side of the hamantaschen. Do not leave out this step. Without the eggwash, the hamantaschen will open in the oven.

Repeat with all four balls of dough.

Bake on 375 for 35-45 minutes, until the edges turn lightly brown.

Eat them warm, straight from the oven, or at room temperature. The flakey, buttery crust will crumble deliciously, granting you access to the sweet apple filling. They are really good. But don't take my word for - make them yourself!

Recipe yields approximately 20 hamantaschen.

Dough Ingredients:

  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 cups very cold butter or margarine
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 8-10 tbsp. ice water
  • 1 egg white (for egg-washing)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 apples, very finely diced
  • 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice

Dough Directions:

  1. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse twice, quickly.
  2. Quickly cut the butter or margarine into pieces. Don't handle it too much - it needs to stay very cold.
  3. Add the butter/margarine to the food processor and pulse 5-6 times until the mixture resembles very coarse crumbs. The butter/margarine should still be in visible pieces - about pea-sized.
  4. Add the ice water one or two tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until mixture starts to clump. Try pinching some of the dough together. If it sticks, it's ready. If not, add some more ice water and try again.
  5. Pour the dough onto a clean counter or tabletop. It should still be very piecey and crumbly at this point. Gently form the dough into four balls. It's very important not to over-work the dough. Just push it together until it sticks, without kneading. You should still be able to see bits of butter/margarine, you're not trying to fully incorporate them into the dough. Wrap each ball of dough in plastic wrap, or put it in a Ziploc bag, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Filling Directions:

  1. Peel and dice the apples very finely. Mix in the sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss until apples are fully coated.

Assembly Instruction:

  1. Take one ball of dough out of the fridge and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Roll the dough our between two sheets of parchment paper. Dough should be no thicker than 1/8 inch. Use a large cookie cutter, or a small bowl, to cut circles out of the dough, each one approximately 4 1/2 in diameter. Run a metal spatula, or a butter knife, under each circle to make sure it's not stuck to the paper.
  2. Place about a tablespoon of filling in the center of each dough circle. Don't be too measly on the filling, it doesn't ooze out like jelly and you want a good apple to crust ratio.
  3. Using the spatula, or knife, gently lift up each side of the circle and pinch to close. You do need to be very careful with this dough, it's much more fragile than cookie dough. If it tears a little, just use your fingers to patch it up.
  4. Beat the egg white with a fork, or whisk, and brush it over the outside of each hamantasch. This step is very important - it's what keeps them from opening up in the oven.
  5. Repeat these steps with each ball of dough.
  6. Bake on 375 for 35-45 minutes, until edges are lightly brown.

Yields: 20 hamantaschen

You can also sprinkle them with confectioners sugar for an extra dose of sweetness.

Is this something you would try, or does the recipe scare you? Let me know!