The completed poppy seed filling.

Poppy Seed Filling

Making this requires a special grinder and a lot of cranking, but the results are stupendous.
Makes 3 cups, for maybe 60 hamentaschen
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8 ounces poppy seeds

1 cup milk

4 TBL butter

⅔ cup sugar

2 eggs

Poppy seeds are difficult to grind unless you have a specialty grinder. It’s kind of like a manual coffee mill, but you really can’t use a coffee grinder. I have tried. ATTNIf you don’t have such a grinder, look for another recipe that soaks and cooks the poppy seeds as the following will not work.

My poppy seed grinder
My poppy seed mill, resting after a long workout.

In a poppy-seed mill, grind

  •  8 ounces (about 1½ cups poppy seeds)

Heat the following ingredients to dissolve sugar without boiling the milk.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 TBL butter
  • ⅔ cup sugar (or more to taste)
  • pinch of salt

Remove the mixture from the heat. In a large bowl, beat

  • 2 eggs

In small amounts, add more and more of the milk mixture to the eggs, but ATTNnot too much at once or the eggs will cook. The idea is to gradually warm up the eggs and combine them with the milk. Once you have added half the milk to the eggs, pour it all back into the pan on the heat and let it cook until thickened into a smooth custard, but ATTNdon’t let it approach a boil!  Remove from the heat, stir in the ground poppy seeds and let the mixture cool. It can keep a couple days in the refrigerator.

Note that sometimes I’ve just added sugar and milk to the ground poppy seeds to make a filling. It’s not as satisfying but in a pinch it works. If you need a non-dairy filling you can use corn syrup and mix it with the ground poppy seeds and skip the custard/milk process completely.

Adapted from a recipe from Olga’s Flavor Factory.

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