I still remember standing on a step-stool with my brother back at our old condo in Vancouver, British Columbia. We must have been four and eight at the time. We’d impatiently wait to grab a piece of dough or take the spatula out of mothers hand before she could even scrape the bowl clean of any chocolate or icing. Our faces left covered in flour or jam, sometimes even a little dough as my brother and I would playfully try and get it on each other’s noses (you get the picture). My mom would roll out the dough, hand us each a cookie cutter, and challenge us to get as many cookies out of it as we could. If we were going to snack on raw dough and get dibs on testing the first batch, we had to earn it! We were the three musketeers in the kitchen. It wasn't just about baking though, it was about; bonding, moments of uninterrupted bliss, my mom laughing rather than constantly working, learning valuable lessons from her, and a time to be thankful for what we had. I can't express in words just how much I cherish those times.
Now, my family has spread all over the world. Half of my family is in Australia, my Sister In-Law is from Brazil, my relatives are all in Czech Republic, and my other half of the family is in Fernie, British Columbia. So, you can imagine getting all of us together for the holidays is next to impossible. Although we do try, we find ways to bring memories into our homes and relive those memories so that it feels like we're all together!
When the holidays approach I'm quickly reminded of how much baking I have to do. Do I ever get it all done? Absolutely not. My Mom was a cookie wizard and I'm still not sure how she managed to whip up over a dozen different kinds of cookies each year. However, I make sure I find time to at least make my favourite classic Czech cookie. It's easy to make, deliciously satisfying, and something almost all of my friends enjoy (the ones that don't...you know who you are...I'll convince you otherwise soon enough ha ha).
So, if you're in a rush and want a delicious cookie recipe, follow my childhood memory below (jam-filled "linecké cukroví"):
3 Egg Yolks
Mix the ingredients together and knead the dough until you form one large ball. Then, take portions of dough and roll them out as thick or thin as you'd like. Take a cookie cutter of your choice (I use a tree for the holidays) and get as many cookies out of one rolled out piece of dough as possible. I always find a cookie cutter that comes in 2, one that just cuts the shape and the other that cuts the shape and a hole in the middle. I like my jam to peak through!
Next, bake! At 180C, pop those babies in for about 4-5 minutes - or until lightly brown on the bottom. Take them out to cool onto a wire rack.
Once your cookies have cooled, grab your favourite jam and sandwich two cookies together. You can always swap for Nutella if you prefer. Whatever tickles your fancy.
Finally, fill a bowl or dish with icing sugar and lightly toss one cookie at a time to get a dusting of sugar. Not only does it make your tree cookies look as though they're snow covered, it adds that extra touch of sweetness that my sweet tooth craves. If I could, I would drizzle chocolate and sprinkle them with little peanut butter chips - I need help. Note: It is often a bit quicker and less messy if you toss the cookies in the sugar prior to jamming 'em!
I hope you love these delicious cookies as much as I do. Perhaps it can become a new tradition for you as well! Even if it's not baking, find something you can do each year to remind yourself of the love and laughter that surrounds you. We tend to get busy throughout the year but this is definitely a time to reflect, be grateful, and to cherish your loved ones and your traditions.
Wishing you all a wonderful and happy holiday!
PS: I made snowman cookies as well, an attempt at my mother's creative spin on a Czech classic (vosí hnízda). If you want the recipe, see below:
Cookie: 300g ground almonds (or walnuts), 300g icing sugar (I know, it's a lot), 1 egg white, and 1-2tbsp almond Baileys. Mix the ingredients together, knead the dough, leave to cool in the refrigerator, and then make your cookies using a special mould;
Filling: I whisked 250ml of coconut milk with 100g sugar over medium heat (the sugar was unnecessary, mental note) and then let it cool down before I mixed it with 125g of butter, 1 - 1/2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut, and 1-2tbsp of rum (traditional recipe is: 200g butter, 1 vanilla sugar (13g), 2eggs, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, and 1tbsp of rum). Pipe your filling into the cookie; and then,
Coating: I melted white chocolate with a bit of butter and almond milk. I then poured the chocolate over each cookie, allowing it to drizzle down the sides - unevenly coating the cookies. Finish it off with a sprinkle of shredded coconut and allow the chocolate to cool by placing them in the fridge. After 10 minutes, grab a nilla cookie and add spread a bit of the filling over it and then place your chilled cookie on top. The chocolate should still be a bit sticky so that will help the nilla cookie stay put. Voila! *keep in a chilled area, not refrigerated*