Searching for Hamentashen on Avenue J and Beyond
View Bakeries for Hamentaschen in a larger map
This year we try Brooklyn for our annual hamentashen search. It's not that there aren't great hamentashen in Queens—there are, and you can read about them here. They're all still there and still good, so it only seemed right to explore another borough.
Avenue J in Midwood has a good amount of kosher bakeries, and this time of year, the week leading up to Purim, those bakeries are filled with mishloach manot gift baskets and hamentashen. Poppy and apricot are my personal favorite, so when available, that's what I ordered at each stop. I didn't find a bad hamentashen in the bunch, but there were a few standouts. Here are the goods, from acceptable to outstanding.
Porges Canadian-Style Bakery
Not the prettiest batch of hamentashen, and not quite the tastiest either ($8.50/pound; $1.70 for two). The poppy seed filling was crunchy, just the seeds with a touch of honey or sugar to bind them all together. Pure poppy, which is nice, but the cookie was a little too hard, although nicely sweet with a crunch. The apricot filling, however, was lacking. There was so little of it, and it was cooked so much, that it turned into fruit leather. Mostly cookie, not much flavor. Not the best, but I never say no to a hamentash.
1441 Coney Island Avenue (at Avenue K), Midwood, Brooklyn (map)
Meir's Hemishe Bakery
There were no apricots here, so I got poppy and prune ($6.99/pound; $1.70 for two). The poppy filling was chewy with a hint of citrus. The prune was chewy as well. The cookie was slightly dry and harder than most, and not too sweet. Again, acceptable but not a favorite.
1321 Ave J, Midwood, Brooklyn (map)
I had to stop at this super-kosher supermarket to stock up on some of my favorite Israeli snacks, and found that they sold hamentashen, made in-store, at their bakery ($5.49 for a nine ounce box). I bought a nine ounce container of poppy hamentashen. I wasn't expecting much, but to my surprise, they were delicious. The cookie tasted almost buttery, like shortbread. I say almost, since they are pareve, not dairy, so no butter was used. But still, a good flavor, nice crumbly texture, and the thin cookie encased a large amount of soft, simple poppy filling. They tasted clean and sweet, and the small size made it easy to eat a few of them at a time.
When I first bit into the large poppy hamentash from Ostrovitsky's ($1.50 each), I thought it was nothing special, just a big cookie with not much filling. But as I kept eating, it began to grow on me. The cookie was thick and sweet, with a good crumbly crunch. The mound of poppy seeds were crisp on top but soft on the interior, and just barely bound together. The apricot offering was tasty as well, but the proportions were a little off. Too much of the thick cookie and not quite enough of the floral fruit filling. Otherwise, a good representation of quality hamentashen.
1124 Avenue J, Midwood, Brooklyn (map)
Isaac's Bake Shop
The best of the bunch ($1.50 each). The large cookie is crumbly, but soft and sweet, housing an incredibly moist pile of poppy seeds, very clean tasting and classic. The apricot was just as good, lots of pure, sweet apricot jam, just the right amount for the cookie. Now it feels like Purim!
1419 Ave J, Midwood, Brooklyn (map)
Next year I'll try Borough Park in Brooklyn, or re-visit some Queens classics. Where do you get your favorite hamentashen?