Balkan The Balkan Cookbook

Assorted Balkan Cookies

It has become an annual tradition at my household to choose the cuisine of a different European country each year as the theme of our holiday cooking. In the past, I have featured cuisine from France, Wales, Scandinavia, and Poland. This past year, in honor of my childhood best friend who emigrated from Romania, I wanted to do a deep dive into Balkan cuisine, aided by Inge Kramarz’s excellent 1972 The Balkan Cookbook. As a special treat for my friends and family I put together a Balkan cookie tin featuring a variety of Balkan cookies and candies to celebrate the holiday season. Without a doubt it was the “Hussar’s Kisses” which were the standout fan-favorites (the ones with the heavy dollop of raspberry jam in the photo). However, I thought I’d the full gamut of Balkan treats with you.

Hussar’s Kisses (Hungary)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup of unsalted butter
1/2 sugar
1 lemon, grated
1 egg, separated
1/2 cup toasted, slivered almonds
1/2 jam

Directions

  1. Combine flour, butter, sugar, lemon rind, and egg yolk.
  2. Roll into balls, dip balls in egg white and then roll in almonds.
  3. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Make a depression in center of ball and bake at 375 degrees until golden brown.
  4. When cool, fill depression with jam of your choice.

Devil’s Pills (Hungary)

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
2 tbsp grated orange rind
2 tbsp orange juice
1 cup almond powder
1/2 cup chopped candied citrus
1/2 cup grated bitter chocolate

Directions

  1. Melt sugar, orange rind, and orange juice. Add almond powder and candied citrus. Let cool.
  2. Form into balls and roll in grated chocolate.

Walnut Cookies (Yugoslavia)

Ingredients

1 cup icing sugar
2 2/3 cups flour
2 1/4 cups ground walnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lemon, grated
1 cup unsalted butter

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, ground walnuts, vanilla, and lemon rind.
  2. Melt butter until hot and pour directly onto dry mixture. Knead together.
  3. Roll out dough into cylinders and wrap in wax paper. Chill for several hours.
  4. Slice dough into 1-2 inch thick cookies, place on greased baking sheet and bake in 300 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Let cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar.

Balkan Style Almond Cookies

Ingredients

3 cups ground almonds
1 3/4 cups of icing sugar
1 egg white
Rose water

Directions

  1. Knead together almonds, sugar, and egg white.
  2. Roll out into a sheet and cut out cookies.
  3. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 300 degrees until just set, but still white.
  4. While still warm sprinkle lightly with rose water.

Chocolate Candy (Romania)

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup cocao
1 egg yolk
3 squares of dark baker’s chocolate, grated

Directions

  1. Mix together, sugar, butter, cocoa and egg yolk. Shape into balls.
  2. Roll in grated chocolate and chill.

Chocolate Marzipan (Yugoslavia)

Ingredients

1/2 lb ground walnuts
1/3 cup chopped almonds
3 oz dark baker’s chocolate, melted
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cups icing sugar

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients together and then roll out into two loaves.
  2. Roll loaves in icing sugar and let sit overnight. Slice into portions the following day and dredge in icing sugar.

Carrot Candy (Bulgaria)

Ingredients

1 lb carrots
1 lb sugar
10 dashes of orange bitters

Directions

  1. Peel and grate carrots.
  2. Cook carrots in sugar until wilted and dough-like.
  3. Add orange bitters and let cool.
  4. Form into balls and dredge in coarse sugar.