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Vanocni Cukrovi or Czech Christmas Cookies

This Christmas I feel privileged to be able to share with you, my sister-in-law’s Christmas cookie recipe.  My sister-in-law is from the Czech Republic and every year at Christmas she makes hundreds of cookies to share with family and friends.  Vanocni Cukrovi or Christmas cookies are a Czech tradition.  There are literally hundreds of different recipes for Vanocni Cukrovi with a multitude of variations. Each family have their assortment that they make every year. The recipes are then passed from mother to daughter through the generations.  Each recipe is a variation on a theme and I am lucky enough to have the recipe for four of my sister-in-law’s favourites.

I do feel a bit of a fraud baking these cookies as I’m neither Czech, nor is this my family recipe but I’ve been so impressed by my sister-in-law’s baking for so many years that now that I have started to bake I really wanted to give them a go.

These cookies are a lot trickier than they look and I can see how it would take many years of baking them with your mum to perfect the techniques.  I can also see why many of these traditions were started in the Northern Hemisphere as the high percentage of butter makes these very delicate and difficult to work with on a hot summer’s day.  This lengthened the process as I kept having to put the dough back in the fridge before it melted.

My first pick were the Vanilkove Rohlicky or Vanilla Rolls.  They looked easy enough; they are essentially biscuit crescents but they are more difficult to shape than you would think.  I tried my sister-in-law’s method of rolling into a long thin rope, chopping and shaping.  This involved too much handling for the hot weather.  I then tried piping as this relies on the mixture to be soft.  There was a bit of trial and error with the piping nozzle size, but I got there, and they look OK.

My Vanilkove Rohlicky are not as uniform as I would like but they have the light, buttery taste I remember so I’m happy to work on the look.  I have halved this recipe as I don’t have the patience to make hundreds.  When made with the other biscuits this recipe makes a good quantity and enough to share around.

Vanilkove Rohlicky/Vanilla Rolls (Makes 30+)
125g unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
50g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
125g plain flour
50g ground hazel nuts

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius without the fan if possible.

In a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.   Add the vanilla paste and stir to combine.  Add the flour and ground hazel nuts and mix briefly until it forms a dough.

Because of the high proportion of butter the dough is very soft.  You will need to put it in the fridge to firm up before shaping and depending on how hot the day is you may need to keep returning it to the fridge.  I couldn’t get the dough firm enough to roll so I allowed the dough to come to room temperature and piped it into small crescents.

Ensure you leave plenty of space between the biscuits on the baking tray as they will spread when baked.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Linecke Cukrovi /Jam Flowers (makes 30+)
140g unsalted butter
70g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 egg yolks
210g plain flour
rind of half lemon
jam for filling

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius without the fan if possible.

In a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.   Add the vanilla paste and stir to combine, then add the egg yolks and continue to mix.  Add the flour and mix briefly until it forms a dough.

Allow the dough to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper until it is about 3mm thick.  Cut out your desired shapes.  It seems flowers are traditional, but I didn’t have a flower shaped cutter so I went for Christmassy stars.  Set aside half of the cut out shapes for the top of the cookies.  Carefully cut a circle from the centre of the reserved shapes.  I used a plain piping bag nozzle.

Ensure you leave plenty of space between the biscuits on the baking tray as they will spread when baked.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned.

Once cool, put a small amount of jam on half of the cookies and top with the cookies with the cut out hole.  My sister-in-law recommends using blackcurrant jam but I decided to use raspberry.  I think you should use whatever flavour is your favourite.

The cookies will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.  The Czech’s make a large batch and give for gifts at Christmas.  I will be practicing my technique this year and hope to be skilled enough to make them as gifts next year.  I will also post the other recipes when  I have mastered them.

I have entered this post in the Shine Supper Club.

 

Comments

Comment from Mitzi
Time December 12, 2012 at 6:23 am

Where did you get the boxes? Love them!

Comment from nic
Time December 12, 2012 at 6:32 am

They are Orla Kiely. She has a website with stockists! I love them too, so any cookies that are gifted will not be in these boxes!

Comment from Dina
Time December 13, 2012 at 1:46 am

these look great and worth the time to learn how to make!

Comment from Sarah | Shine Food
Time December 13, 2012 at 3:59 am

Love those Orla Kiely boxes almost as much as I love the gorgeous simplicity of these cookies! I love reading about holiday traditions from other cultures. We’re celebrating our favorite holiday recipes this month on the Shine Supper Club, and a recipe like this one would be a perfect contribution. I hope you’ll join us!

Comment from Janet Anderson
Time December 13, 2012 at 8:47 am

My Mother’s father was Bohemian, and I grew up eating many Czech foods. These cookies look wonderful!

Pingback from 15 Christmas Cookie Recipes from Around the World | Hunting for the Very Best
Time December 13, 2012 at 11:57 pm

[...] Czech Vanilla Rolls/Vanilkove Rohlicky and Jam Flowers/Linecke Cukrovi [...]

Comment from Lorne Marr
Time December 14, 2012 at 1:25 am

I have some Czech and Slovak friends who taught me to bake great Christmas cookies including these two recipes and in case of vanilla rolls – I am used to cover the baked cookies in powder sugar mixed with a bit of cinnamon and vanilla sugar. Plus I use walnuts instead of hazelnuts and in larger quantity. If you think that the dough is not firm in enough live in the fridge whole night or experiment a bit with the amount of flour or butter.
One more thing, from my experience best jam for “linecke” is red currant. :)

Comment from nic
Time December 14, 2012 at 3:30 am

Thanks Lorne! Your comments confirm my sister-in-laws thoughts that everyone has their own recipe and does it in a slightly different way! Cinnamon sugar sounds like a great addition. I might try that next year. And yes, she gave me a larger recipe, but I don’t have the patience for making more than 30-40 cookies at a time!

Comment from Ivana
Time December 15, 2012 at 5:40 am

I come from Slovakia, which used to part of Czecchoslovakia and Hanka is one of my best friends. We too make several types of Christmas cookies and there is a bit of competition in how many different kinds each family makes. It’s a lovely tradition which I keep because I live in the Uk and want my children to know.

Comment from nic
Time December 15, 2012 at 6:15 am

Hi Ivana, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I remember meeting you at the wedding :) So which cookies are you making this year?

Pingback from Bittersweet Chocolate and Salted Pistachio Cookies | spicebox travels
Time December 21, 2012 at 1:31 pm

[...] Mince Tarts The Midnight Baker: Linda’s Orange Macadamia Nut Cookies Nic Cooks: Czech Christmas Cookies Oishii Treats: Eggnog Glazed Baked Donuts Ring Finger Tan Line: Salted Dark Chocolate Rolo-Filled [...]

Comment from Sara @bellyrumbles
Time December 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I feel your pain in working with high butter content dough at Christmas. In and out of the freezer or fridge, each step, right until you get them in the oven. Your hard work has paid off, they look simply delicious, brilliant for a first attempt.

Comment from Nic@diningwithastud
Time January 4, 2013 at 11:05 am

It looks like you did them with ease ;) fab job!

Comment from Magda
Time November 16, 2013 at 7:38 am

I’m just looking for Christmas cookies ideas and these look just gorgeous, I’m sure this year you will get them perfect :)

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