Tried and Tasted: The perfect Purim pastry

In our intrepid search for the best hamantashen, we made the rounds to find the tastiest triangles.

Ben Ami Hamantashen 521 (photo credit: Daniel Layla)
Ben Ami Hamantashen 521
(photo credit: Daniel Layla)
At Hanukka time, sufganiot are the highlight of the holiday, with bakeries coming up with ever more innovative fillings and spectacular decorations annually. But come Purim, while stores make a passable effort to market hamantashen, the pastries don’t seem to cause such a stir as their Hanukka counterparts. Less than two weeks before the holiday, many stores we visited were not yet stocking the triangular hamantashen or only had them available pre-packaged. None had the imagination to sell a variety of flavors in the same box.
With a very few notable exceptions, most of this year’s range of hamantashen included the standard fillings of date, poppy seed, nut and chocolate. The price seemed to be an indication of the quality – I was disappointed to see only one dark horse. Predictably, the dairy versions had a clear edge over the parve ones, and I would have liked to see more bakeries take the risk of using butter instead of margarine; people would buy them for the superior flavor rather than their versatility.
I would also like to see more kid-friendly fillings. The only hamantashen my children would taste were the chocolate ones and, after all, Purim is meant to be geared toward the younger generation.
All establishments sampled are kosher.
Ben-Ami: A Though these hamantashen didn’t look any more impressive than any others sampled, their flavor was clearly superior. The pastry was more like a rich, dense butter cookie that almost melted in the mouth. Ben-Ami sticks to the classic flavors, but the truth is that these would have been delicious even without the filling.Flavors: Chocolate, poppy seed, date, halva and nut. Also available in miniature versions.NIS 32 for 250 gr. Dairy 38
Emek Refaim Street
Roladin: B+ First opened in Ramat Hasharon in the Eighties, Roladin now has 34 branches around the country. Despite its size, the bakery and café chain has managed to maintain the quality of its products, while regularly changing and updating its menu.
Which is why its hamantashen were just a tad disappointing. Trying to stand out, Roladin has added cocoa beans and other flavorings to the pastry, which doesn’t really add to the taste and just comes across as gimmicky. But the fillings made up for the blandness of the dough, both in quality and quantity, though the variety was a little overwhelming.
Flavors: Poppy-seed pastry with poppy-seed filling; cranberry pastry with yogurt, granola and cranberries; coconut pastry with dates, masala spices and roasted peanuts; cranberry pastry with raspberries, rose water and almond paste; cocoa-bean pastry with halva and Belgian chocolate chunks; cocoa-bean pastry with chocolate and Belgian chocolate chunks; cocoa-bean pastry with pralines, peanut butter and salted peanuts; and coconut pastry with walnuts and a hint of orange.NIS 9.50 per 100 gr. Dairy
Several locations around the country
Bonjour: B Bonjour, a supplier to several supermarkets and other stores, recently opened a bakery in Tel Aviv. Its hamantashen were the only surprise – parve pastries that are worth eating for their flavor and not just at a meat meal. The pastry was crisp and tasty, and the fillings hit the spot. When asked how Bonjour kept its price so low – the cheapest I tried – the manager of the Tel Aviv store said that other bakeries are far too expensive.Flavors: Chocolate, poppy seed, date and nut.NIS 30 a kilo. Parve
41 King George Street, Tel Aviv
Pe’er: B-Tucked away behind Emek Refaim Street, Pe’er is a charming bakery that offers the Israeli-style classics. With its hamantashen, it has adapted its pastry to the filling, pairing chocolate dough with halva filling and cinnamon pastry with nuts. The result was a crisp, sweet exterior with a tasty filling. The dates were harder and chewier than most, which I enjoyed as a change.Flavors: Chocolate, date, nut, poppy seed and halva with chocolate pastry.NIS 40 a kilo. Parve
5 Hamagid Street
33 Etz Haim Street
Neeman: B-Neeman offers mass-produced, usually parve, baked goods that are reliable but not outstanding. The same can be said of its hamantashen. The pastry, though parve, was not offensive but it tasted, well, parve. The fillings were adequate in quantity and quality. The price was mid-range, and so was the result.Flavors: Nut, poppy seed, chocolate, date and halva.NIS 65 a kilo. Parve
Several locations around the country
Aroma: C To be fair, Aroma is not really a bakery, so perhaps it should be given credit for getting into the holiday spirit. But it serves only one type of hamantashen – chocolate, which is sold individually. The cloyingly sweet filling was reminiscent of a chocolate croissant; and the pastry, which was neither crisp nor rich nor soft, had an undefined consistency.Flavors: Chocolate NIS 4 each. Dairy

Several locations around the country
Marzipan: C-Best known for its sticky rogelach that foreign students flock to buy from Mahaneh Yehuda, Marzipan has now branched out to more outlets and a wider variety of baked goods. While I do enjoy Marzipan’s rogelach, which are more chocolatey and moist than most, the hamantashen were a disappointment. The pastry was too soft, and the vanilla-chocolate chip filling was gluey and not a success in general. At the German Colony branch, the hamantashen were not sold by the weight, which is inconvenient for those who want to buy more than one type.Flavors: Vanilla chocolate chip, chocolate, date, nut and poppy seed NIS 22 for a container. Parve
Several locations in Jerusalem

Mega: C-I had been hoping to be pleasantly surprised by the supermarket contender but, sadly, I wasn’t. The pastry was bland, and the filling unremarkable. The chocolate flavor was a cheaper version of what I spread on my children’s sandwiches on Fridays.Flavors: Chocolate, date and poppy seed.NIS 34 a kilo. Parve
Several locations around the country
Lalush: D Lalush’s hamantashen dough was dry and grainy, and the fillings did not compensate for that. The halva and chocolate flavors I tried were obviously sandwich spreads.Flavors: Chocolate, halva and poppy seed.Price: NIS 37 a kilo. Parve
22 Agrippas Street
34 Ha’oman Street S
hilat Industrial Zone, near Modi’in