Well into her eighties, my unflappably determined Hungarian grandmother traveled six hours by car with a huge surprise platter of these cookies for our wedding, much to everyone's amazement and delight. This was our most memorable wedding present of all. Gram firmly believed that we could have no special occasion without these especially beloved cookies. Since no one else in the family knew how to make these or even what to call them then, after she passed away, I just had to figure out her recipe. I had watched her make these several times when I was a girl. When I presented my first platter to my uncle, he gave the thumbs up. Although you can use different fillings such as chestnut, poppy, fig or prune, I think making half the batch with walnut/raisin/cranberry and the other half in apricot/ginger is best. By using more spice with zest, white whole wheat flour, and fage, this recipe has some additional updated nutritional value. Making this recipe for our special occasions helps me keep a family tradition alive. —Sagegreen
Two fiillings: walnuts with dried fruits and apricot with ginger
finely ground walnuts (amount after grinding)
finely chopped dried premium cranberries
finely chopped yellow raisins
fennel seeds, ground or milled
thick apricot jam (homemade preferred)
finely grated peeled gingerroot
lemon zest, Meyer preferred
white whole wheat flour (King Arthur preferred)
all purpose flour (King Arthur preferred)
premium unsalted butter
lemon zest, Meyer preferred
egg yolks, slightly beaten
sour cream or fage
dash of sea salt
egg whites, slightly beaten for wash
@ 4 ounces
confectionery sugar, to sift over cooled cookies
Combine the ingredients for each of the two fillings, and store each one in a bowl to use later. We used a meat grinder, fastened onto the kitchen table to combine the walnuts and dried fruits together.
Sift together the flours. Traditionally, we used only apf, but white whole wheat is a delicious addition. If necessary, you could try a gluten-free apf (Arrowhead Mills). Using a pastry cutter blend the butter and lemon zest to the flour.
Mix in the beaten egg yolks. After these are incorporated, mix in the sour cream or fage and 6 oz. of sugar. Divide the dough into 4 balls and refrigerate until chilled (at least half an hour).
In between parchment paper roll out the dough, one ball at a time, to a wide strip, roughly in modules of @ 2 inches. Strive for a 1/8 inch thickness, or even a bit less. Keep the rest on the dough refrigerated until you are ready to work with the next batch. Cut out 2 inch squares from the rolled dough. You should get about a dozen from each ball. If you have scraps, you can re-roll them. Refrigerate if the dough gets too sticky, with the butter melting at room temperature.
Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each square. Taking the opposite corners overlap them and then give them a firm pinch. Brush evenly with egg whites. Continue with the rest of the dough in the same way. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12-14 minutes until perfectly golden brown. Let cool.
Sift confectionery sugar on top of the cookies and transfer to a platter. A child will feel love, while a grandmother honor.