Friday, November 30, 2012

Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies

12 Days of Christmas Cookies Day 2! These bar cookies interested me from the first time I saw them. A butter cookie base topped with jam and then a walnut meringue. Somehow that makes them Yugoslavian, or Slovak or something as Yugoslavia no longer exists. I almost always use pecans in my baking in place of walnuts, but this time I decided that I would stick to the recipes. Of course, I now have a giant bag of walnuts from Costco so you will see me using those up!

The original recipe used blackberry jam, I used apricot ginger jam and you could use anything you want. I thought apricot ginger jam sounded festive. I had bought the jam this summer at the local farmer’s market and knew it would be great. I wondered if I should mix the apricot jam with the lemon extract, but it was just fine. If you don’t have lemon extract, you could substitute vanilla, but that would lend a different flavor.

With the meringue on top of these bars makes them quite messy. I started to cut them and thought that they would just crumble to bits. I almost gave up. I cut them into big bars and then smaller rectangles. They are fairly crumbly on top, but you just kind of have to work with that. Some pieces may just crumble too much, and just eat those and no one will ever know. The flavor of these is great, and the bars have a complex mix of textures: crumbly meringue top, smooth jam layer, and chewy cookie base. Yes, these aren’t the most beautiful cookies (and certainly don’t make them on a day when you are frustrated!) but I ended up liking them more than I expected.

Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies 
1/2 pound butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup jam of your choice
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground walnuts
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have a 9” x 13” pan ready. You don’t have to butter the pan.

In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and ½ cup sugar; add egg yolk and salt and stir to combine.  Add flour and mix until the dough comes together. Press the dough into the bottom of the 9” x 13” pan. Spread the jam over the dough.

In a clean mixer bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Gradually add 1 cup sugar while the mixer is running. Continue beating until the mixture is shiny and becomes meringue. Gently fold in the ground walnuts and lemon extract.

Spread the meringue over the jam and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Bake for 40 minutes, the meringue will be lightly browned. Cool before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Gonna Want Seconds

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