Pastry Profiles: Hamantashen, Famous 4th Street Delicatessen, Philadelphia

Hamantashen, famous 4th street

I love Hamantashen. Those jaunty hat-shaped cookies may be most strongly associated with Purim, the Jewish holiday, but really, they taste great pretty much any day of the year. And luckily, they're available pretty much any time of the year at a delightful spot called The Famous 4th Street Delicatessen in Philadelphia. 

Famous 4th Street

The famous 4th Street is fantastic for many reasons, but most visually impressive is the sheer size of their baked goods. Seriously, the picture above doesn't quite give you an idea of scale. Their sweets are supersized: their cakes are baked in huge loaves, about 4 times the size of a regular piece of pound cake. Their coconut macaroons are the size of a softball;


the hamantashen measure about 5 inches across. While a mere look at the pricing might seem appalling ($3 for a hamantashen; $8 for an eclair), when considering the size of the goods, it's really quite appropriate.

Famous 4th street

But back to the hamantashen. Recently I picked up a few because I suspected that I would be able to double up and fill both my face and my soul with joy at once. 

Famous 4th Street

I was right.


I'm not sure what experts would say, but for me, a successful hamantashen has a texture which falls somewhere between butter cookie and scone: very carb-y, lightly crumbly, but not crumble-apart. The Fourth street version managed to heighten my desired texture by attaining a crust that was flaky too. It was brushed with an egg wash for a pretty appearance and a nice light chewiness on top, which ensured that the cookie part crumbled and flaked in my mouth, not my hand. The cherry filling was good without being remarkable; the poppyseed and prune filling was more interesting, with a nice texture from the poppyseeds and the prune added a nice stickiness which contrasted the cookie with its mellow sweetness. It made me want to make like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and sleep in all that poppy-fueled joy.

These cookies were perfect when paired with milk, and a delight as both an after dinner treat and a breakfast item. If you love Hamantashen, or think you might be willing to try to love it, Famous 4th street is a good place to try, says this Spy.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen, Philadelphia; online here.