Medenjaci (Spiced Honey Chocolate Nut Cookies)

March  9, 2015
1 Ratings
  • Serves 25-30 cookies
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • For the dough:
  • 1 cup (150 g) toasted walnuts, almonds, or whatever nut you prefer
  • 3/4 cup (250 g) honey
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) vegetable oil
  • 2 3/4 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • For the icing:
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 1/4 cups (150 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. 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).
  2. Heat the honey, sugar, and oil in a small pan over medium heat until the sugar melts. Put aside to cool slightly.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. Bake the cookies for 25 to 30 minutes, until they firm up and become golden brown.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
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See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Morgan
  • empirical_kitchen
  • suzy

7 Reviews

Morgan December 17, 2015
Delicious! So bright tasting and yummy!
empirical_kitchen March 15, 2015
Hi Suzy!

I'm sorry to hear you're having issues with the dough.
I've checked the quantities and I did spot a mistake (it should be 3/4 tsp baking soda, instead of 1/4 tsp). For some reason, I can't edit the recipe and correct this :(
However, this would not produce the effects you're talking about.
When you add the honey-oil-sugar mixture and mix with a wooden spoon, the dough typically comes together into a big ball which is very easy to handle.
I usually just tear small pieces of dough and form the cookies with my hands.
Although it's difficult to tell what went wrong in someone else's kitchen, it seems like your liquids are off.
Are you sure you've added the exact quantities as written here?
Also, did you heat the mixture to dissolve the sugar and honey and mixed it well with oil?
suzy March 15, 2015
Hi! Thanks for getting back to me. The measurements you listed were the ones I used, and I followed the directions as written. The only thing I can think is that I used turbinado sugar, since it was what I had out. I'm going to give the dough another try today, this time with granulated (and the baking soda change). I just ate an unfrosted cookie (baked them just before bed last night), and the taste is too good to pass up!
empirical_kitchen March 15, 2015
I thought of something else that could be an issue - the type of honey you've used.
I typically use flower honey that you can buy in regular supermarkets here in Spain in the squeeze bottles (the laziness factor again) and they have around 18% water content (I've just checked) :D
If you've used a type of honey with less water, this could have affected the end result.
Also, I just heat the honey-oil-sugar mixture until everything is well mixed and I can't really see any sugar crystals in there.
And you're supposed to leave the cookies in a box for 1-2 days before eating them ;)
(I don't think I've ever been able to even transfer them to the cooling rack without eating one or two in the process...)
suzy March 15, 2015
I had a similar thought. Part of the honey I used yesterday had crystallized. I've got a brand new, very runny clover honey to use today. Let's see if that makes the dough easier to work with.
suzy March 15, 2015
Success! I had no trouble rolling this batch. They're in the oven now! Thanks again for the advice.
suzy March 14, 2015
I'm making these now, and the dough is very crumbly, not really rollable. Nothing's missing from the ingredients list, is it?