The Dish | Apricot Hazelnut Brown Butter Hamantaschen

The Jewish holiday Purim was last week and these cookies were a highlight. Purim is a deeply selfless celebration – one where gifts are given not only to friends, but to those most in need. It’s a celebration of life — with an emphasis on finding the holy in moments even when it might be most concealed. Hamantaschen, a delicious three cornered cookie with various fillings, is a traditional way to honor and reflect that celebration. Poppy seed is considered a classic, but the fillings can vary — and often do, depending on where in the world you live. 

This delicious variation using hazelnuts and apricot is from Smitten Kitchen.


Brown butter

  • 9 tablespoons (130 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine


  • 1/4 cup (65 grams) browned butter, from above
  • 2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • Seeds from half a fresh vanilla bean (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (310 grams) all-purpose flour


  • 3/4 cup (100 grams) toasted hazelnuts, skins rubbed off
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • Few pinches of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
  • Remaining browned butter from above, or about 4 to 5 tablespoons, cold
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon brandy, or another flavoring of your choice (totally optional)
  • 1/2 cup (rough estimate) apricot jam
  • Brown your butter: You’re going to use this in two places.
    • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Keep cooking it after it has melted, stirring frequently, until it begins to smell nutty and pale brown flecks appear at the edge of the pan, which takes a few minutes.
    • Once these reach a dark beige/medium brown color (you’ll want to watch this like a hawk, this happens quickly once it begins to toast) remove from heat.
    • Pour 1/4 cup exactly of this browned butter mixture into the bottom of the large bowl you’re going to make your cookie dough with.
    • Place the rest (this will be 4 to 5 tablespoons) in a small-medium dish and freeze it until you need it for the filling, which uses a more flexible amount of butter.
  • Make your dough: 
    • Let the 1/4 cup browned butter cool slightly in the bottom of a large bowl, then whisk in sugar, vanilla extract, scraped vanilla bean seeds (if using).
    • Whisk in eggs, one at a time, followed by salt and baking powder.
    • Switch to a spoon and add first cup flour, stirring to combine. Repeat with second cup of flour, then 1/4 cup. Dough is going to become stiff, just do your best.
    • Add the last 2 tablespoons flour — and if it’s too stiff to stir with a spoon, knead it in with your hands.
    • Divide dough into two parts and wrap each in a flattish disc in plastic in the fridge for 2 hours, or up to a few days. (Impatient? So am I! My hack is to place discs in freezer until firm but not frozen, 20 to 30 minutes.)
  • Make your filling: 
    • Place nuts, flour, salt and sugar in the work bowl of a food processor and run the machine until the nuts are finely ground but not yet forming a paste.
    • Remember that browned butter you froze? Scrape it into the machine and run it until combined.
    • Add egg and any flavorings and run the machine until a smooth paste forms.
    • Scrape hazelnut paste back into that browned butter dish (fewer dishes) and place it in the fridge until needed. It doesn’t have to be cold to work, but it is easier to scoop.
  • Assemble and bake cookies: 
    • Heat oven to 350 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
    • Roll chilled dough, one packet at a time, out on a floured counter until 1/8-inch thick. These cookies puff in the oven, so err on the thin side.
    • Cut into 3-inch circles. In the center of each circle, dollop the tiniest amount (a scant teaspoon, this expands in the oven so use less that it seems you’d need) of the hazelnut paste and a little (1/2 teaspoon, tops) dab of apricot jam. Fold sides up, forming a triangular shape and pinching the corners closed well.
  • Arrange on baking sheet with an inch or so between cookies. Reroll scraps as needed. Repeat with remaining packet of dough.
  • Bake cookies for 11 minutes to start, then check the color and return them to the oven, a minute at a time, until they’re nice and golden at the edges. For me, this usually takes a couple more minutes.
  • Let cool on racks. Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, and longer in the freezer.

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