Poppy Seed Filling, or mohn paste, is rich and flavorful. It’s an excellent addition to so many desserts, including cakes, cookies, and pastries. And it’s much easier than you might think! All it takes is a handful of ingredients and 30 minutes out of your day.
There are times when a dish looks like it must be complicated and time-consuming to prepare. But looks can be deceiving, and that’s certainly the case with a delicious poppy seed filling.
A traditional Jewish ingredient, it is also known as mohn paste — mohn means “poppy” in both Yiddish and German. It is also used in several Russian and Ukrainian recipes. When Purim rolls around, you’ll find an abundance of sweet treats with poppy seed filling.
Made at home, this is so much fresher and more flavorful than the canned options you’ll find in the grocery store. It’s also easy to make in large quantities and stays fresh in the refrigerator for almost a week!
I absolutely love cooking Israeli cuisine. I also recommend giving my Ptitim recipe a try! It’s both hearty and refreshing, with healthy and light ingredients that still make for a filling meal.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Poppy Seeds - This ingredient isn’t often used in desserts, but it’s delicious when it is! When ground, the nutty, sweet flavor of these seeds pairs terrifically well with lemon and honey. Do not substitute this ingredient.
- Milk -Or a milk substitute, such as almond milk. Several recipes opt for cream or sweetened condensed milk. Try it out and see what you like best!
- Sugar -Simple, sweet, and to the point. Granulated sugar will dissolve and combine quicker and easier than cane sugar, but either can be used.
- Lemon Juice -A bit of acidity goes a long way, particularly among these sweet and mild flavors.
- Salt -You’ll always find a pinch of salt in a well-balanced dessert — it elevates and enhances every other recipe ingredient. Regular table salt will do the trick.
- Vanilla Extract - Just like salt, we use this to build our flavor profile and enhance other ingredients. I don’t recommend substituting this ingredient, though you could use almond extract if necessary.
- Honey - This ingredient melds beautifully with every flavor in this paste, tying everything together with a pleasant sweetness. Local and organic is always an excellent choice. Try to get as close to 100% pure honey as you can.
HOW TO MAKE POPPY SEED FILLING
1. Grind the Seeds. Once done, they should be similar to coffee grounds in consistency. You can accomplish this with a food processor, or you can even use a coffee or spice grinder.
2. Combine the Ingredients. In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients except for the vanilla extract, which we’ll add at the end.
3. Heat and Reduce. Heat the milk mixture on medium-high. Once you reach a rolling boil, reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer until the mixture thickens — this should take around 15 minutes.
4. Add the Vanilla. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla extract, stirring and combining well. Allow to cool before using or packing away for later.
5. Enjoy! Use this delicious mohn paste in your favorite pastries and sweets, such as hamantashen, rugelach, or babka.
Is it necessary to grind poppy seeds for filling?
Yes, for a few reasons. One is to achieve a soft, smooth texture. Whole seeds will create an unpleasant crunch when added to pastries. Ground, these seeds release a different flavor than when they are whole. They become fruity, sweet, and earthy, adding a pleasant aroma and taste to a whole slew of desserts!
This paste is milk-based, so keep it refrigerated in an airtight container. It should stay good for 5 days. Be sure to cool completely before storing as well! You can also freeze mohn paste for a couple of months, though this will alter the consistency. This recipe is pretty quick and painless, so I really recommend making and serving it fresh.
This filling has a nutty, fruity sweetness. It’s also very slightly bitter. The seeds have a natural citrus-like essence when ground, and this is enhanced by the lemon juice that we add to the mix. Combined with milk and honey, the overall flavor profile is rich and sweet.
Poppy Seed Filling (Mohn Paste)
- 1 cup poppy seeds
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup milk or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Blitz poppy seeds in food processor or coffee grinder to finer consistency.
- Add ground poppy seeds, honey, milk, sugar, lemon juice and salt to medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to low, and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir through the vanilla. Set aside to cool.
- Use for filling of hamantashen, rugelach, babka or other pastries.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.