It was a Hungarian dinner I made for my dear partner Krassky (cooking with Gaggenau and Le Creuset) that made me fall in lovewiththese traditional Hungarian Christmas cookies. Not only me.Others, too, as guests were so desperate to eat them the next morning that they begged me to wrap some to take with them. And that, my friends, is the best compliment a chef can get.
Hókifli, made from simple sour cream dough, are filled with walnuts, egg whites, and sugar. I went a step further adding lemon zest into the dough and orange zest in the filling together with pecans, prunes, and tonka beans, substituting white sugar with demerara sugar. They are eggless, keep perfectly for weeks (in an airtight tin), and, if left out, disappear in hours: a wonderful treat, gift, or dessert.
400 g flour
250 g cold butter, pieces
1/2 organic lemon zest, finely grated
200 g sour cream or crème fraiche
60 g juicy prunes, cut into small pieces
100 g walnuts, crushed*
40 g pecans, crushed*
150 g honey
150 g demerara sugar
1/2 organic orange zest, finely grated
2 medium egg whites
Prepare the dough. Mix the flour and salt, add the cubed butter, and mix by hand to a crumbly texture, like breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and knead thoroughly until combined into a smooth dough ball. Cover and let rest for 40 minutes - 1h.
Filling. Mix all of the ingredients.
Heat the oven to 180° C and line a pan with parchment paper.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a long sausage shape (around 6 cm diameter). Or, you can roll it out 3-4 mm thin. If the latter, then cut out circles using an 8-10 cm cookie cutter. Place one teaspoon of filling on each round, roll it up, and stretch the rolls into crescents. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. If using the sausage method, cut the sausage into 5 mm pieces, press them 2-3mm thin, and do the rest as with the cut out rounds.
Place the pan into the oven, bake for 20-25 minutes until they begin to get some color. Take out, leave to cool for 10 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
*I like to crush them with a mortar and pestle to leave larger pieces too.
Recipe and pictures: Signe Meirane
Camera: Sony Alpha 7s