As a follow-up to my Christmas cookies of Czech Republic post, I decided to share my mother-in-law’s Easter bread recipe (“Mazanec”, in Czech). Mazanec is a slightly sweet bread with some fruit and nuts, and subtle vanilla and lemon flavor. My Czech husband has always preferred Mazanec over the similar, but differently shaped, Christmas bread, called “Vánočka”. Continue reading
Below you’ll find a large collection of authentic and traditional recipes for Christmas cookies, confections, and sweet breads, that are popular in Czech Republic. Many regard Central European Christmas sweets among the best in the world, and I must agree. Since I first published this post, I’ve continued to add new recipes each year. It’s one of the most comprehensive collections, written in English, you’ll find online. According to my Czech hubby, my mother-in-law would make as many as 13 different varieties for her platter, plus Christmas breads. I’ve never made that many in a given year, but have made more over the last four years, learning a couple varieties that my mother-in-law never made.
Vosi Hnizda are cute no-bake rum eggnog or custard filled 3-dimensional cookies. They generally require a special mold to make that’s available throughout Czech Republic, or can be found online, in the US. The traditional version includes a nut-based dough for the “nest” or “hive” part, though people with nut allergies can find no-nut versions online, elsewhere. My mother-in-law made them without cocoa, but those who like cocoa, can add it. They are traditionally filled with a rum-flavored eggnog or custard, but other flavors can be used. Continue reading
Czech Christmas Cookie/Confection #9
These cute little hedgehogs are not my mother-in-law’s creation, but I couldn’t resist including them in my Czech Christmas cookie countdown. Actually, they’re not really cookies either, but candy confections. Many Czechs (and other Europeans) love both marzipan confections and hedgehogs – animals that can occasionally be seen in rural areas of Europe. If you like, you can use some of the marzipan to make other shaped things, as I did in the photo above. Marzipan can be colored with gel food coloring, and decorated in many ways. It can also be used in recipes like sweet breads, baked cookies, and more. This recipe makes about 12 oz (350 g) of marzipan. These marzipan hedgehogs are not baked. Continue reading
Czech Christmas Cookie #8
Bite into these chewy nutty meringue-style sandwich cookies to reach the bliss of a delicious chocolate buttercream filling. My mother-in-law usually used roasted hazelnuts or walnuts for the meringue cookie, but some Czechs use blanched almonds. The nut choice will affect the color, a bit. Meant to be a one or two-bite cookie – that is, if you can stop at only one cookie! These were my husband’s favorite Christmas cookie, as a child. The pictured Princezky were made using finely ground roasted hazelnuts, our favorite nut choice. This combination, with the chocolate buttercream, is a little reminiscent of Nutella. Even yummier, in my view. They do crisp up a little over time, but are still great. Continue reading
Have you ever had Bishop’s Bread? If not, many recipes you’ll see online resemble the notorious fruit cake that Americans joke about as a “re-gifting” item. My Czech mother-in-law’s recipe does contain some lemon zest, but beyond that, it’s more of a chocolate chip and nut lover’s dream. This cake wonderfully combines bittersweet chocolate with hazelnuts (or walnuts or pecans), with the lemon zest adding just the right bit of pleasant zest for ultimate deliciousness. This sweet bread contains lots of beaten egg whites. Occasionally, I add some chopped candied orange peel to the batter, if I have some left over from making Marokánky cookies. If I do that, I reduce the chocolate and nut quantities slightly. Continue reading
Czech Christmas Cookie #7
A nutty meringue cookie with a hint of chocolate flavor. This cookie can last for weeks. Because of that, during WWII, my Czech mother-in-law sent a large batch of these cookies to Jewish friends that sadly were taken to a concentration camp. These were a favorite of my husband’s father. My mother-in-law spread the batter in a pan, then cut them into squares. I prefer to bake them in individual traditional small rounds. I think they’re prettier that way. As with many others, these taste even better as they age.
Do follow the recipe exactly as written. Definitely use walnuts and real confectioner’s sugar. I tried other nuts with less success. Low/no calorie confectioner’s sugar substitutes made the recipe fail.
Czech Christmas Cookie #6
Rum, chocolate, walnut balls with the delight of rum-soaked dried cherries in their centers, pack a delicious flavor punch. No wheat flour needed. They even improve with age, but I tend to eat up the first batch quickly. They are traditionally rolled in unsweetened cocoa, which gives them a nice flavor bite, but you can get even more creative, as I did for the photo above (cocoa, finely grated coconut, finely chopped/ground nuts, and multi-color nonpareils). Continue reading
Czech Christmas Cookie #5
Pracny (or Medvědí Tlapky) are very traditional Czech nut and spice cookies baked in special cookie molds, some looking like bear paws. The following recipe has a light amount of spices. Other recipes include more. Feel free to increase the ground cinnamon and clove amounts a bit, according to your taste. Too much clove can get overwhelming, though. This is an eggless recipe. Traditional molds for pracny can be found online. I purchased mine at https://www.slovczechvar.com/?cat=26&scat=88, which is an online store in the US.
I have only ever used smooth flour for this recipe. Unbleached pastry flour (see below) should be an equivalent. I’m not sure how they would turn out using all-purpose flour. Continue reading
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Czech Christmas Cookie #4
A crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside cookie with the delights of fruit and nuts, and bittersweet chocolate on the bottom. The batter is prepared in a saucepan, cooled then baked, and later dipped in chocolate. The original recipe calls for candied orange peel with nuts, but other dried fruit (or a combination) could be used. The combination of candied orange peel and dried cranberries (i.e. Craisins), with the nuts, is especially nice for the holidays. I highly suggest using candied orange peel. It gives the cookie its signature lovely flavor. I have found it in gourmet shops, but usually order it online. US ingredient equivalents/substitutions are provided, where necessary. I suggest weighing the fruit and nuts. Continue reading