Vanilice

By • October 23, 2012 • 13 Comments

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Author Notes: Every family has a heirloom. A jewel, a story, a secret... I have a book of recipes. Compiled by my grandmothers and grandaunts and carefully perfected and written down by my mom. When I decided to cross the ocean forever I took the book with me. Nothing in the book is really a secret. We were never of a non-sharing kind. The food is to be enjoyed by everyone. The process of making the special foods is to be enjoyed by everyone. Happiness is to be shared. And one of the happiest and most treasured of our recipes is Vanilice. Vanilice (pronounced vah-ny-ly-tseh ) are tiny Serbian cookies made for holidays and special occasions. Vanilice (which means “little vanillas”) are bite-sized walnut cookie sandwiches with jam and vanilla scented powder sugar. Vanilice hold such a special place in the Serbian cuisine and tradition, that in good old days every self-respected lady of the house was expected to make a very special jam, usually rosehip or apricot, to be used for Vanilice. There are many variations of the Vanilice recipe. Thousand of them. My greataunt Cica was the creator of our family's version; she was so proud of it that until the day she died, she supervised every family member in the process of making Vanilice. Including my grandmother.

p.s. Before you go to work, a couple of important things: 1) you must get the best quality lard, 2) you must be patient and let Vanilice sit in a cool dark place for at least one or two days before serving -- not in the fridge, and 3) you must use good quality firm jam -- unless you want your Vanilice running all over the place. Too many musts, but it will be worth it.
QueenSashy

Makes about 60 cookies

  • 300g lard (ideally leaf-lard)
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 250g ground walnuts
  • 600g all-purpose flour
  • Rosehip or apricot jam
  • 200g powder sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  1. A couple of days before making the cookies, in a small bowl with a tight lid mix the powder sugar with the vanilla bean. Store in a dry place.
  2. In a mixer fitted with paddle, beat the lard with the granulated sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg, egg yolks, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add the walnuts and flour and beat until uniform dough forms. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325° convection bake (350° regular bake). Place the dough on work surface dusted with flour and roll it out to a 1/4-inch-thick round. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small round cookie cutter (I use 1-inch or quarter-size cutters), stamp out the cookies and arrange them one inch apart on the baking sheets.
  4. Bake for about 12 minutes, so that the rounds remain white. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack or flat surface to cool completely.
  5. Once the cookies are cool, take a cookie round at a time, spread the jam on it and top with another cookie round.
  6. Roll each cookie-sandwich generously in the vanilla sugar. Put the cookies into a tin box, and wait for one to two days before serving.
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Georgetown_at_night

almost 2 years ago Georgetown-DC

What can be used as a substitute for refined lard?

Moi_1

almost 2 years ago QueenSashy

You can substitute lard with butter, margarine or shortening. The cookies will be less flaky and the taste will be slightly different, but it will work. You might have to adjust the recipe, since butter and margarine are usually 80% fat / 20% water, shortening and lard are 100% fat.

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almost 2 years ago Hipimama

I have a lot of pork fat ( not sure if it is the same as lard??) but when I use it in sweet recipes they taste "porky" . Maybe walnuts and lemon hide the taste or lard is something different ( cleaner fat??)

Moi_1

almost 2 years ago QueenSashy

Yes, lard is pork fat. I suspect that you have home rendered lard, which is not suitable for cookies. But even refined lard will still release a faint scent, especially when cookies are baking, but it will disappear from the final product.

Black_picture_small

almost 2 years ago loubaby

Where do I find quality lard?...is there a special brand?...I have only used Armour brand Lard by Con Agra here in the States....

Moi_1

almost 2 years ago QueenSashy

I recently used Lundy's Refined Lard. I bought a 1lb container in Eataly in NYC. I just googled it, looks like Amazon and other web retailers have it. Someone also mentioned that grasslandbeef.com lard is good (I have not tried it), here is the link http://www.grasslandbeef...

Newhair

almost 2 years ago HeartBellyAndSoul

Oooh! Definitely putting these on my Christmas baking list! Thanks for posting these!

Moi_1

almost 2 years ago QueenSashy

They are meant for Christmas. Enjoy!

Summer_2010_1048

almost 2 years ago Midge

These are so beautiful and I bet delicious!

Moi_1

almost 2 years ago QueenSashy

Thanks!

Summer_2010_1048

almost 2 years ago Midge

These are so beautiful and I bet delicious!

Mrs._larkin_370

almost 2 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

these look and sound incredible!

Moi_1

almost 2 years ago QueenSashy

Oh, yes they are, believe me! If you try the recipe, please let me know how you liked it...