The most traditional filling for Hamantaschen cookies is poppy seed (known in Yiddish as mohn). Some people believe this tradition finds its roots in a pun. In Yiddish, Hamantaschen literally translates to “Haman’s pockets.” A slight variation of the word, ha-mohn-taschen, literally translates to “the poppy seed pockets.”
Whatever the reason, poppy seed is the most popular of all Hamantachen fillings. Here is my favorite recipe for poppy seed filling.
To make this filling pareve (dairy free), I’ve recommended some specific substitutes below. I really like this filling better dairy, but you can get a descent pareve result using the recommended substitutions.
Note: I have improved this recipe since originally posting… I am always working to make my recipes the best that they can be. Enjoy!
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- 1 1/2 cups (8 oz. weighed) whole unground poppy seeds
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (see cooking instructions for pareve subs)
- 1 cup milk (see cooking instructions for pareve subs)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Grind the poppy seeds in a coffee grinder in batches for about 15-20 seconds per batch, until they are ground soft and powdery.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the milk, sugar, honey and salt (read the salt note at the end of this recipe before adding). Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, till the sugar dissolves and the honey melts.
- Pour about 1 cup of the hot liquid into a cup.
- Immediately but gradually being drizzling the hot liquid into the beaten eggs. Whisk briskly and constantly till all of the hot liquid is integrated into the eggs. Do not pour too quickly, or you'll scramble your eggs. It should take about a minute to drizzle all of the liquid.
- Slowly pour the heated, tempered egg mixture back into the hot liquid in the saucepan, whisking constantly.
- Continue to whisk and cook for 3-5 more minutes over medium heat till the mixture thickens and turns light yellow. It is ready when it thickly coats the back of a spoon.
- Remove the saucepan from heat. Whisk the ground poppy seeds into the buttery liquid and stir well to blend all ingredients.
- Allow filling to cool to room temperature before using. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- To make this filling pareve (dairy free), you will need to use a substitute for the milk and the butter. For the milk, I like SoDelicious coconut creamer, which gives it a creamy, very faint coconut taste (vegan, but produced on dairy equipment for those who are strictly kosher). You can also use regular coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk or soy milk as a sub. For the butter sub, I don't like to use margarine very often, but in this case I'd recommend Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks. They have no hydrogenated fat, and in small amounts they make a passable substitute for butter. They do have salt, so I would recommend cutting the 1/4 tsp of salt in the recipe if using this product. If you are comfortable using unsalted margarine, feel free.