Every time I’m back in the US, I try pulling more food memories out of my father. One of the latest ones to come back to him was a mini cherry cheesecake dessert my grandmother used to make. My aunt remembered it as well, describing the graham cracker crust and cherry pie filling on top.
I did a quick search and found a Shugary Sweets recipe. “Yep, that looks like it,” they said. I saved it, thinking I’d make it sometime in the future.
A couple of months later, Putin happened in the lead-up to Purim. A friend of mine reached out about starting a fundraiser called Hamantashen For Ukraine, raising funds to support Ukrainian refugees in Poland. The idea being that Putin is a modern-day Haman, the Biblical villain in the Book of Esther who tries to kill all of the Jews of Persia.
She wanted to get bakeries and home bakers across Europe and the US on board. Since that initial idea, the fundraiser has taken on a life of its own with bakers constantly messaging her to get involved. Chances are, a bakery near you is baking some hamantashen for Ukraine.
That’s when I got the idea for my hamantaschen. I could use the filling of the mini cherry cheesecakes my grandmother used to make and put them in the hamantashen, using a bit of ground graham cracker in the dough as well. And that’s how these Graham Cracker Cherry Cheesecake Hamantaschen came to be.
Graham Cracker Cherry Cheesecake Hamantaschen
- 86 grams graham cracker crumbs finely ground
- 228 grams all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 50 grams butter
- 132 grams granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Graham Cracker Crust
- 30 grams butter
- 40 grams graham cracker crumbs finely ground
- 13 grams granulated sugar
- 1/2 large egg preserve half for egg wash
- 113 grams cream cheese
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 20 canned cherries for garnishing at the end
- Combine the flour and ground graham cracker crumbs with the baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the soft butter with the sugar until they cream. Then, add the eggs and vanilla to combine.
- Using a wooden spoon, spatula, or stand mixer, mix in the dry ingredients to form a dough. Divide the dough in half and pat it out into discs and wrap them in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least two hours or up to one day.
- Make the graham cracker crust by melting the butter and using a fork to mix in the graham crumbs and the sugar. Set aside.
- Beat the sugar, egg, cream cheese, and vanilla until well blended. Set aside in refrigerator so it becomes more solid.
- Preheat the oven to 350F or 175C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Dust some flour on your workspace and roll out one disc of dough at a time until it's between 1/3 and 1/2-centimeter thick. Add more flour as necessary to prevent sticking.
- Cut out 3” or 7.5cm circles (I use the rim of my whiskey glass), re-rolling scraps as needed. Brush the edges with egg wash. Scoop 1 teaspoon of graham cracker crust and pack it into your spoon. This will help it stick together. Then plop it in the center of your hamantaschen and flatten slightly with the back of your teaspoon. Top that with 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese. At this point, you can optionally add your cherry on top or save it for the end. If adding it now, be sure to press it slightly into the center. It might fall to the side while baking if it's left gently on top.
- Fold the edges up to form a triangle shape, pinching the corners firmly to seal. Then brush the edges with egg wash.
- Place on the baking sheets, 1 inch or 2.5 centimeters apart. Bake until the dough is lightly browned, about 17 minutes.
- If you haven't already, top each hamantaschen with a canned cherry and press it gently into the center of the cream cheese. Let cool for about five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. After another five minutes, you can dive in!