This winter is the first, since I’ve been dating my boyfriend, that I will not be having his family’s delicious Czech Christmas cookies (sušenky) to inhale. He’s left me behind in the Montana tundra while he basks in the lights and glory of the Karlův Most at Christmas. Which, now that I’m writing this, I realize will probably be for the best as I tend to really enjoy the tins full of them when they’re around.
I was worried when I was making them, as I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do a 3 generations old recipe (at least) any justice. They’re done, and I can’t stop eating them.
This is my favorite out of an assortment of always nutty, buttery, sometimes chocolatey, beautifully formed cookies that his family spends days making every holiday season. They are called hrozinkovy (rozinka = raisin), with some other title that I’m unsure of and would certainly butcher anyway. This one, ironically, has no butter(!). They get their moist and soft texture from thoroughly pulverized raisins, egg yolks, and a coating of lemon glaze while they are still hot.
The only “Christmas” cookie cutter I have is a rather large snowman, so I opted for… less traditional shapes. Squirrels, ducks, and owls – selected out of carrot, dog bone, pear, kangaroo, wiener dog, bat and pig shapes, most of which I’ve collected slowly from trips to Sur a Table, an awesome kitchen store that I spent too much money at with my industry discount when I was cooking for a living.
Hrozinkovy (Czech Raisin Almond Cookies)
For the cookies:
- 1 c. raisins, frozen and buzzed in the food processor (a note on this in the beginning of the directions)*
- 2 c. almonds, buzzed very fine in the food processor
- 1 c. sugar
- zest of 2 lemons (reserve lemons for icing)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2/3-3/4 c. flour
For the icing:
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 c. powdered sugar
*Before you start, a note on the raisins: the raisins become incredibly sticky and can be very hard on the food processor. To prevent jamming and gumming up of the food processor, first process the almonds, then roughly chopping the raisins in a cutting board to expose the sticky innards. Coat them with the almonds and the fine meal that is created when you process the almonds. After the raisins are coated, they will grind with much greater ease in the food processor.
In a small bowl, combine sugar with lemon zest, spices and salt.
Mix almond and raisin mixture with sugar mixture with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes. Add egg and yolks, beat on medium until dough comes together. Add flour in batches and combine well. Cover mixing bowl in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours, and up to overnight.
Before baking, prepare icing by adding lemon juice to 1 c. powdered sugar 1 tsp. at a time, mixing with whisk until it reaches the consistency of sweetened condensed milk.
Generously sprinkle additional flour on a wooden cutting board or other suitable rolling surface, and begin rolling half the dough about 1/8″ thick. Dough will be very sticky! Cut shapes with cookie cutters, and transfer to cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat (a Silpat, like this one, of which I do not own have… *ahem*).
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are beginning to brown.
Within 1-2 minutes of removing cookies from oven (enough time to put another pan in the oven), brush icing over hot cookies with a pastry brush. Allow to set on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire racks to cool and dry completely. Storing them in an airtight container with a piece of sandwich bread torn in a few pieces will keep them moist for the better part of a week.