These hamantaschen combine two recipes: a cream cheese-butter dough adapted from the late Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts, and the filling from Joan Nathan’s Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous, a book on Jewish cooking in France.
Unlike canned poppy-seed filling — too sweet for me, and full of dubious ingredients besides — Nathan’s recipe is a complex blend of poppy seeds, dried fruit, nuts, and lemon zest. I also like the cookies filled with apricot or raspberry preserves; Nathan says that French children like Nutella in their hamantaschen.
Translated as “Haman’s pockets,” these cookies are traditional for Purim. As Sax writes: “The pastries are supposed to represent the hat worn by Haman, counselor to the king and the villain in the Purim story. Purim is a time to take gifts of food to the homes of friends and to drink wine — according to the Talmud, ‘until you no longer know the difference between the names of Mordecai and Haman.’”
Check out either The Shiksa in the Kitchen or Melissa Clark's website for tips and photos on shaping hamantaschen.