Lard Cookies (Sádlovky)

An old traditional Czech lard-based version of a thumbprint cookie .

Most Czech Christmas cookies use butter, but these old traditional ones have always included lard. “Sádlovky” is simply the diminutive of “lard”, kind of meaning “Little Lards”. Lard cookies are about a simple as they get, with only a few ingredients, and easy to make. They are melt-in-the-mouth and let the beautiful flavors of cocoa (or vanilla) and the jam (or other filling) shine. To most Americans, like me, they look like a thumbprint cookie. As seen in the above photo, they are often filled with a bit of fruit jam, and sometimes a nut, but you can get creative with both the cookie flavor and filling. Nutella is especially nice in the cocoa versions. Continue reading

Coconut Chocolate Rum Swirls (Kokosově čokoládový vír s rumem)

It’s not even December, as I write this, yet I’m already planning my Christmas baking projects. I have new additions to my ever growing mega post Authentic Recipes for Czech Christmas Cookies and Sweet Breads (České vánoční cukroví). Four years ago, the post contained about 10 recipes. By Christmas, I may near almost 20. Earlier today, I made a yummy Christmas confection that I feature here.

Coconut Cocoa Rum Swirls (Kokosově čokoládový vír s rumem) are no-bake sliced confections almost like coins of fudge. The chocolate rum dough swirls around a creamy coconut filling that contains a touch of cream cheese (or farmer’s cheese – tvaroh). Though they may not be on every Czech Christmas cookie tray, they are an example of a newer one that reflects Czech tastes and the creativity of modern day Czech home cooks. The inspiration recipe was from a Czech cooking site, where they called it “Coconut Rum Madness” (“Kokosovo rumové šílenství”)! Continue reading

Czech Sauerkraut Soup (Zelňačka)

Delicious with rye bread and beer on the side.

It’s mid-September, and the temperatures in Czech Republic have dropped, making it feel like autumn already. As it has rained a lot, a nice big pot of warming hearty soup was on my mind. So, I decided to make and share the recipe for a classic Czech sauerkraut soup called “Zelňačka”. As I mentioned in my posts for Szeged Style Sauerkraut Goulash and Hopl Popl, sauerkraut is a powerhouse of nutrition with lots of antioxidants. Delicious klobása (kielbasa), spices, and optional mushrooms also provide a big kick of autumn flavors. For a small meal, in itself, the recipe serves five or six people. As a first course, closer to eight.

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Secrets to the Best Fried Pork Cutlet/Schnitzel (Smažený řízek)

Fried breaded meat cutlets (or schnitzels) are extremely popular throughout Central Europe. Actually, pretty much throughout the world. You can find these on pub (hospoda) menus throughout Czech Republic. Pork cutlets are a go-to meat choice, but chicken is also popularly used. Veal is not as common, as it is in Vienna (Wien), Austria. My picture above shows a pork cutlet. So you may ask why I post a recipe that so many people already make. My answer?

Here are valuable secrets for the best schnitzels ever!

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Leftover poppy seed or walnut filling muffins

What can I do with leftover poppy seed filling or nut filling? These muffins may be your answer! They are quick and easy to make and even freeze well. I had some of both of these fillings leftover after making filled Czech Christmas cookies. Other recipes that may leave such leftovers include Czech kolache (koláče), filled sweet yeast-based buns (buchty), or even strudel (závin).

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Psaníčka, Šátečky a Koláčky (Envelopes, Scarves & Koláčky Cookies)

Left to right: Koláčky, Envelopes, Scarves, & Triangles with various fillings

These filled cookies are another recipe including farmer cheese (tvaroh). The individual names only refer to the styles of folding the dough around their fillings – their shapes. The dough is the same for all. You can choose the filling(s) and mix and match between different folds/shapes. The main sweetness for the cookies comes from the traditional Czech fillings and later confectioner’s sugar dusting.

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Marzipan Stuffed Dates with Candied Fruit (Plněné datle)

Dates are popular treats at Christmas time throughout the world. It’s definitely the case in Czech Republic, where I’ve seen beautiful ones in holiday baking sections at grocery stores. Here they are stuffed with marzipan that has a bit of orange essence, and then top with candied fruit, another ingredient you see a lot of in Czech stores around the holidays. Though any candied or dried fruit works well, I particularly love to use the combination of candied orange peel and halved dried cranberries on top. If you have the marzipan ready and handy, these are quick to make.

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Masarykovo Cukroví (Masaryk’s Cookies)

No, I didn’t eat all of those cookies in one sitting. LOL! Just a couple.

These simple shortbread type cookies are sort of the Czech equivalent of Pecan Sandies in the US. The main difference is the use of whole hazelnuts/filberts, instead of pecans. Hazelnuts (called “lískové oříšky” in Czech) are quite popular in Czech desserts. They also add unique circles in each cookie slice. Beyond the time it takes for the dough to chill and cookies to bake, the preparation process is quick and and very easy.

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Plněné Ořechy (Stuffed “Nut” Cookies)

Would you like a nut…cookie?

Christmas cookie making gone nuts? Well, I guess you could say, “Yes!” These Plněné Ořechy (stuffed nut-shaped cookies) are usually reserved for more ambitious Christmas cookie making, but it’s quite a pleasure when they appear on the cookie tray. They are meant to look like a nut (most often walnut) and to celebrate their wonderful flavor. A final decoration with either chocolate on the ends, or simply a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, is optional. “Stuffings” can vary according to taste or nut shape. Here I continue the nut flavor, but with a touch of rum.

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History of Vánočka (Czech Christmas Bread)

“Vánočka” is a very large semi-sweet braided Czech Christmas bread that is the symbol of Christmas in Czech Republic. It’s a treat you can see in nearly every Czech household, just prior to and/or during the Christmas holidays. Its name derives from the very word for Christmas in Czech, which is “vánoce”.

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