There are probably as many versions of these cookies as there are Croats in the world -- the ratio and choice of spices, the presence of chocolate and/or nuts, the type of fat used, and even the glaze varies. However, the one remaining fact is that these cookies are a childhood staple in the Balkans and this recipe created many fond memories in mine. The cookies themselves are soft and chewy when left undisturbed for a few days and make great company with a cup of tea (better than some people in my opinion). —empirical_kitchen
Test Kitchen Notes
These cookies came together easily and baked in the time given in the recipe. The frosting also worked just as the directions indicated. The cookies have a nice well balanced spicy nutty flavor and they are sweet without being overly sweet. Unfortunately the texture is tough. I tried them the day I baked them, and the two following days because the recipe indicated that they improve after a couple of days, but the texture remains tough. —erinbdm
For the dough:
(150 g) toasted walnuts, almonds, or whatever nut you prefer
Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C) and spread the nuts of your choice on a tray. Bake them for 8 to 10 minutes until they are fragrant (and you are probably drooling). Let them cool down a bit, then coarsely chop. Lower the temperature to 300° F (150° C).
Heat the honey, sugar, and oil in a small pan over medium heat until the sugar melts. Put aside to cool slightly.
Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, then add the honey mixture. Use a wooden spoon to bring everything together and knead the dough a bit with your hands, just to make sure that everything is incorporated and evenly distributed.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper and form small, walnut-sized balls with your hands. These cookies barely spread, so you can easily fit 25 to 30 cookies on your tray (at least I did anyway).
Bake the cookies for 25 to 30 minutes, until they firm up and become golden brown.
Let the cookies cool down. Meanwhile, with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites with the confectioners' sugar until you get a thick consistency. Then mess it all up by adding the water and the lemon juice. Whip the mixture just a bit longer to incorporate the liquids.
Dip each cookie into the icing (or just dump them all in at the same time -- have some fun, live a little). Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to remove the excess icing.
Place the rack with the cookies in the oven and set the temperature to 175° F (80° C). Keep the cookies in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the coating is dry. This step dries the icing much faster and gives the cookies a chewy meringue coating.
You can also choose to ignore my suggestion and just dip the cookies in chocolate. I will not be offended. I promise.
Store the cookies in an airtight container for 1 to 2 days. This gives them some time to soften up. They keep well for days. I'd even say weeks, but no one has ever witnessed that. There's nothing but crumbs at day 5.