I can’t think of a cookie recipe more simple and more delicious than the recipe for Czech plum cakes. These cookies only contain three ingredients and no added sugar and yet their flaky, light deliciousness knows no bounds. These cookies almost remind me of a quick and rough way to make puff pastry. The trick with these cookies is to handle the dough minimally and use the Czech plum jam if you can find it. The cookies are traditionally made with Powidl jam which is a rich, thick dark purple jam made in the Czech Republic from late harvest Italian plums. It can be hard to find but if you can locate this real jewel of a jam then utilize it in this recipe. Not only is it traditional to the cookies but it imparts a rich flavor and beautiful color. And now sit back and enjoy the recipe for these Czech cookies which are notorious crowd-pleasers.
Povidla Kolace (Plum Jam Cakes)
8 oz unsalted butter
8 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz all purpose flour
Plum jam (preferably Czech Powidl jam if you can find it)
Combine ingredients together on counter. Cut in butter and cheese until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Use your hangs to form the ingredients into a dough, folding the dough over as you press it together. When the dough is formed refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so the dough can chill and the gluten can relax.
Once the dough has cooled roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut the dough into 2 X 2 in. squares. Place a dollop of jam in each dough square. Press the opposite corners of each square together and pinch very tightly to form a dough purse. Space with room on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375 F for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Dust lightly with confectionary sugar and serve.
Remember when you wanted to be just like mom? Do your hair like mom and dress like mom and bake like mom? Well, I definitely do. My mother used to bake European delicacies professionally so as kids we usually had to step aside and let her do her thing. When we got to actually participate in making these delicate cookies it was such a treat. I remember the first time I watched my mom pipe the pillowy meringue on top of the Czech walnut cookies and thinking, I wish I could bake just like her!!!! Now, I’m a little older and hey, I still want to bake just like mom! Because Czech cookies are light and delicate and airy and you can eat them by the handfuls. And believe me when I say you will be able to put away quite a few of these cookies before you even blink! These cookies are also naturally gluten free so if you are keeping to a strict diet they will be your new best friend. They are beautiful but simple as the recipe below indicates. Enjoy!!!!
Walnut Cookie Base
210 g walnuts, hand ground
210 g confectionary sugar
1 tsp lemon rind
Preheat oven to 225 F. Grease cookie sheet. Grind walnuts by hand using hand grinder.
Combine on the counter with the confectionary sugar, egg, and lemon. Use a bench scraper or knife to combine ingredients and then form the ingredients into a dough with your hands. Chill the dough about 10-15 minutes. Dust counter with confectionary sugar and roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness. Use a round cookie cutter to cut rounds out of the dough and place rounds on cookie sheet.
4 oz egg white
8 oz sugar (superfine if you can find it)
Once cookie base has been prepared whip the meringue. Place egg whites in a kitchen aid mixer and mix for 20-30 seconds on high before gradually adding the sugar to the whites. It should take about 5-10 minutes to incorporate the sugar and the whites should be glossy and have a stiff peak. Use a piping bag to pipe the meringue on top of the cookie rounds. Bake cookies about 1 hour to 1.5 hours in a very slow oven. Cookies are done when the base is cooked and the meringue is crisp but not brown.