Czech and Slovak heritage is of great interest to me, given my Father’s family roots. Late 2020, I participated in ‘Czech & Slovak Christmas’ offered through Global Slovakia Academy. It was a wonderful class, offering education of the Slovak advent and holidays, celebrations and food.
The Slovak Honey Cookies are traditional Christmas treats and I had to try them. They are very similar to our traditional Gingerbread cookies, using honey instead of Molasses. They are absolutely delicious and a new favorite for the holidays.
SLOVAK HONEY COOKIES
3 cups (400 g) plain flour
1 cup (140 g) icing sugar
4 tbsp (60 g) butter softened
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
2 tsp of gingerbread spice mix
3 tbsp clear honey
- Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Line a baking tray with paper.
- Sift together the flour, icing sugar, soda bicarbonate and spices.
- Add butter and honey to the dry ingredients along with the eggs, and mix well to form a soft dough.
- Wrap in a cling film and leave overnight in the refrigerator to chill.
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of half a centimeter.
- Cut out with your desired cookie cutter and place well apart on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Decorate with icing if you wish.
1 egg white
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice.
- Whisk the ingredients together until stiff peaks form.
- Add more sugar if needed and have patience.
- Spoon your icing into a sandwich bag, twist the bag tightly until the icing wedges into one corner, and then poke or cut a tiny hole into the corner. Make sure your cookies are completely cool before beginning to decorate.
10g ground cinnamon
4g whole cloves
3g fresh ground nutmeg
3g cardamom pods
3g star anise
- Crush the cardamom pods, star anise and cloves using a pestle and mortar. Ground in a coffee grinder and add to the ground cinnamon.
Daughter Megan found this recipe and shared this mega cookie with me. I have never heard of Levain Bakery in NYC but if I ever get back to the City, I will try to go! The cookies are delicious!
A batch of these cookies would make a wonderful Father’s Day present, or if you aren’t a baker, you could order them from the bakery! Slightly warmed in the microwave, topped with vanilla ice cream, it would be a wonderful dessert for two or more!
1 cup Cold Butter cut into small cubes
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cups Cake Flour*
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Chocolate Chips
2 cups Walnuts roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 410 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together cold cubed butter, brown sugar, and sugar for 4 minutes or until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.
Stir in flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined to avoid overmixing. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Separate dough into large balls and place on lightly colored cookie sheet. They are bigger than you think! You will fit 4 cookies on one large cookie sheet. The dough makes 8 extra large cookies.
Bake for 9-12 minutes or until golden brown on the top. Let them rest for at least 10 minutes to set.
*can substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour
*Levain Bakery has stated they don’t use vanilla extract in their cookies. If you would like to add vanilla extract, I would suggest adding 1 teaspoon when adding the eggs to the batter.
Recipe from Modernhoney.com
2020 was quite the year, and Easter was no exception. During the lockdown, my daughters and I cooked different things and did a front porch, socially distanced food swap. We each ate our Easter Dinner in our own homes, different than our normal family gatherings.
The following weekend, our neighbor invited everyone in our cul-de-sac to partake in a Greek Orthodox Easter dinner. It was warm enough to gather outside, socially distanced, to celebrate this special day. For the potluck gathering, I made Koulourakia, Greek Easter Cookies. The cookies are a wonderful, orange-flavored butter twist cookie.
They were fun to make and similar in design to the Kringla I make at Christmas. The cookies are especially good with a hot cup of coffee. This year, Greek Orthodox Easter will be May 2, 2021. I may be inspired to make these yummy cookies once again!
KOULOURAKIA GREEK EASTER COOKIES
3½- 4 cups all purpose flour 420- 480 grams (3½ + ½ cup separated)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar 150 grams
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup butter 115 grams, cubed, room temperature
2 large eggs room temperature
1 large egg yolk room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract pure
1/4 cup orange juice freshly squeezed
1/4 cup milk room temperature
1 teaspoon ouzo or Sambuca (optional)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons sesame seeds sprinkled on egg wash
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Place rack in the center of oven. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Sift together 3½ cups flour and baking powder and set aside. The other 1/2 cup of flour is reserved in case we need to add extra flour (see recipe note).
In a bowl of a stand mixture, with the paddle attachment, whisk together the orange zest and the sugar.
Add the cubed room temperature butter and cream together with the sugar until light and fluffy. This can take up to 5 minutes. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.
Add the eggs, one at a time beating well and scraping down the bowl between each addition.
Add the egg yolk and again, beat well and scrape down the bowl.
Add the vanilla extract, orange juice, milk and ouzo (if using). Beat together for 30 seconds.
On low speed, add the 3½ cups of flour and baking powder. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Add a few tablespoons of flour if the dough is still sticky. (Optional: cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes).
With a medium sized cookies scoop, portion and roll into a 7-inch log.
Shape into desired shapes (braids, pinwheels, twists, etc…) Refer to pictures in the post.
Place on parchment lined cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake for 13 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. (This was too long in my oven. I baked for 11 minutes and probably could have done even less.)
Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to wire rack to completely cool down.
Can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for about 2 weeks. Cookies can also be frozen.
Recipe from shelovesbiscotti.com
French Macarons are such a light, sweet delicacy. I never would think of making them, yet, one day, my oldest daughter, Megan, called to say she’d had a dream about making Macarons and was going to bake them that very day. Megan is the dessert maker in our family, always coming up with something new and delightful. Even so, I thought they would be extremely difficult, especially at Denver altitude.
Never fear! The results were stunning and delectable. The only change Megan made to the recipe was reducing the vanilla and adding almond extract to both the cookie and to the frosting. I’ll leave the Macaron making to Megan and praise (and enjoy) the results!
For the Cookie
- 100 g egg whites room temperature or 3 large eggs
- 140 g almond flour or 1 1/2 cups
- 90 g granulated sugar just under 1/2 cup
- 130 g powdered sugar or 1 cup
- 1 tsp. vanilla 5mL (Megan used 3/4 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract)
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar 800mg
For the Buttercream
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened 226g
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar 100g
- 1 tsp. vanilla (Megan used 3/4 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract)
- 3 tbsp. water 30mL
- 1 pinch salt
For the Macarons:
Sift the confectioners sugar and almond flour into a bowl.
Add the room temperature egg whites into a very clean bowl.
Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites. Once they begin to foam add the cream of tartar and then SLOWLY add the granulated sugar.
Add the food coloring (if desired) and vanilla then mix in. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Begin folding in the 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
Be careful to add the remaining dry ingredients and fold gently.
The final mixture should look like flowing lava, and be able to fall into a figure eight without breaking. Spoon into a piping bag with a medium round piping tip and you’re ready to start piping.
Pipe one inch dollops onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this should be glued down with dabs of batter). Tap on counter several times to release air bubbles. Allow to sit for about 40 minutes before placing in oven.
Bake at 300F for 12-15 minutes, rotate tray after 7 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from baking sheet.
For the French Buttercream Filling:
Combine sugar and water in medium saucepan. Heat over low heat while stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium- high and bring to a boil
Put egg yolks in a stand-mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until thick and foamy.
Cook the sugar and water syrup until it reaches 240 degrees F. Immediately remove from heat. With mixer running, SLOWLY drizzle hot syrup into bowl with yolks.
Continue mixing until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch and the yolk mixture has cooled to room temperature.
Add in butter one cube at a time allowing each piece to incorporate before adding the next. Add vanilla and salt. Continue mixing until buttercream is smooth and creamy. (About 5-6 minutes.) Add food coloring if desired.
- THE MERINGUE!!!! That meringue HAS TO BE STIFF! I had no idea French meringue could be whipped to such a thick marshmallowy consistency but all it takes is a bit of extra whisking. You’ll notice the meringue start to fill the whisk when you’re getting close to the right stage.
- Sift, Sift, SIFT! Those larger pieces of almond flour will mar the surface of your macarons. Best practice is to sift then whiz in the food processor and repeat two more times. Discard the larger particles, don’t try to press them through the sieve.
- Use a scale if possible, accuracy helps with this recipe.
- The mixing will take some practice, you will fold and fold the batter and then use the spatula to GENTLY press the batter against the bowl. You want to remove some of the bubbles but not to many… Continue this until it reaches a thick “lava” consistency. It should slowly fall off the spatula in ribbons and be able to form a figure eight without breaking.
- Pipe the macarons perpendicular to the surface. If your tip is pointing a bit in any particular direction when you pipe the macarons might be oblong or malformed.
- Add your coloring to the meringue after it reaches the soft peak stage.
- When you are finishing the piping motion stop squeezing the bag and pull up with a circular motion.
- The macarons will be best after 2-3 days resting in the fridge.
- If you over-bake the shells and they’re too crisp, brush the bottom with some milk before assembly to soften them up.
Recipe adapted from Preppykitchen.com
Who doesn’t love a lemon bar? I associate Lemon Bars with Spring, warmer weather, longer days, and early spring flowers. The tart filling paired with the shortbread crust. Yummo!
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
optional: confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished bars out (makes cutting easier!). Set aside.
- Make the crust: Mix the melted butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir to completely combine. The dough will be thick. Press firmly into prepared pan, making sure the layer of crust is nice and even. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the warm crust (not all the way through the crust). A new step I swear by, this helps the filling stick and holds the crust in place. Set aside until step 4.
- Make the filling: Sift the sugar and flour together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and lemon juice and whisk until completely combined.
- Pour filling over warm crust. Bake the bars for 22-26 minutes or until the center is relatively set and no longer jiggles. (Give the pan a light tap with an oven mitt to test.) Remove bars from the oven and cool completely at room temperature. I usually cool them for about 2 hours at room temperature, then stick in the refrigerator for 1-2 more hours until pretty chilled. I recommend serving chilled.
- Once cool, lift the parchment paper out of the pan using the overhang on the sides. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares before serving. For neat squares, wipe the knife clean between each cut. Cover and store leftover lemon bars in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Freezing Instructions: Lemon bars can be frozen for up to 3-4 months. Cut the cooled bars (without confectioners’ sugar topping) into squares, then place onto a baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour. Individually wrap each bar in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place into a large bag or freezer container to freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator, then dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Recipe from SallysBakingAddiction.com
Breakfast oatmeal in a bar or cake form is my favorite. Most of this year I’ve been eating my Breakfast Oatmeal Bars, but a favorite fall flavor of pumpkin and maple is calling my name. Daughter, Megan, told me about these bars and made a batch for me a few weeks ago. They are absolutely delicious and the original recipe was posted by IowaGirlEats, a website my girls and I love!
Since I didn’t have Pumpkin Spice, I made my own from a recipe on Taste of Home.
I like my breakfast bar with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh fruit on the side with hot coffee! It doesn’t hurt to warm the Breakfast Bar for a few seconds in the microwave, either. Healthy and delicious breakfast!
Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
2-1/2 cups gluten-free old fashioned oats, divided
1 cup milk, any kind (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray an 8×8″ baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
- Add 1 cup old fashioned oats to a food processor or blender then process until oats have turned into flour. Set aside. (Alternatively you could use a scant cup oat flour.)
- Add milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla to a large bowl then whisk to combine. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups oats, oat flour, chia seeds, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt then stir to combine. Fold in chopped pecans then pour batter into prepared baking pan.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the center has set. Check on the bars at the 25 minute mark – if the edges are browning too quickly, place a piece of foil on top of the baking pan. Cool before slicing into bars then store in the refrigerator, or individually wrap bars in saran wrap and freeze.
Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats
Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
These Berry Oatmeal Breakfast Bars are great for breakfast on-the-go or for a snack. The bars are free of refined sugar and gluten. The original blueberry recipe from Iowa Girl Eats is delicious (of course everything she makes is!). My second batch was made with blueberries and raspberries…Yum! I may try to substitute applesauce for the bananas on a future batch for family members that don’t like the taste of bananas.
Wouldn’t these be great to freeze and have on hand especially for busy Moms once the kids are back to school?
BERRY BREAKFAST OATMEAL BARS
- 2.5 cups certified gluten-free old fashioned oats, divided (I actually just used the food processor on all of the oats)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 2 small or 1 large banana)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 heaping cup of berries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray an 8×8″ baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
- Add 1 cup old fashioned oats to food processor or blender and process until oats have turned into flour (Note: I blended the entire 2.5 cups). Set aside. Alternatively you can use a scant cup of oat flour.
- Add milk, mashed banana, honey, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla to a large bowl then whisk to combine. Add remaining 1.5 cups oats, oat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt then stir to combine. Fold in the berries then pour batter into greased baking pan.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the center has set. Cool before slicing into bars and store in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can individually wrap the bars in Saran Wrap and freeze.
Recipe adapted slightly from: Iowa Girl Eats
Raspberries may very well be my favorite fruit and would certainly be on my ‘last dinner’ list. This recipe started out to be Lemon Blueberry Bars as the original recipe stated. Midway through making the bars, I realized the frozen blueberries were off, so quickly switched to raspberries that I had in the freezer. Frankly, I love the results. Even the nutmeg called for in the original recipe suited the raspberries.
Another new favorite!
LEMON RASPBERRY STREUSEL BARS
yield: 24 BARS
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh raspberries (I thawed frozen raspberries)
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 9×13-inch pyrex pan with nonstick spray.
- Prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, zest and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg and vanilla together; stir into the crumb mixture until a dough forms. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. (Keep the oven on)
- Sprinkle raspberries over the crust. In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup sugar and nutmeg; sprinkle over the raspberries.
- Prepare the topping: In a medium bowl, use a rubber spatula to cream together the 5 tablespoons butter and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the flour, so that the mixture is crumbly, like streusel. Sprinkle over the raspberry layer.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until browned. Cool.
Recipe adapted from RecipeGirl.com
My first time to host Bunco and I decided to go with a Mexican themed menu including Chile Pie, peach and tomato salsa with chips, Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles, salad and watermelon. I grew up eating traditional snickerdoodles and this is a great new twist on that recipe. If you’re a chocolate lover, you will enjoy this cookie!
MEXICAN CHOCOLATE SNICKERDOODLES
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cream of tartar
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
2¼ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large mixing bow, beat the butter and sugars together until nice and fluffy.
- Beat in cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and cayenne pepper until well blended.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract.
- Stir in unsweetened cocoa and flour just until combined.
- Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough and use the palm of your hands to form into a ball. Roll the ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with your palm.
- Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
- Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.