Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without Christmas cookies. After all, how would Santa maintain his energy during his night-long trip, if no one left out a plate of cookies for him? When my daughter and her friends were looking for something to do the other day, I suggested they bake Christmas cookies. Narrowing down which Christmas cookie to bake was easy for my daughter. The recipe for Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies, a holiday family favorite of ours, is one of the first recipes I received from my mother-in-law after I first got married. No, her family did not originate from Yugoslavia and no, I don’t know the history behind this beloved recipe. I do know, however, that the combination of the buttery cake/cookie crust, slathered with red currant jelly, and topped with a delicate lemony-nutty-meringue is worth savoring. Some recipes were meant to be kept in the family, but others, like this one, beg to be shared! Happy Holidays!
Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies
Adapted from a family recipe
Bottom Layer Ingredients:
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2½ cup flour, sifted
Middle Layer Ingredient:
1 cup blackberry or currant jelly, stirred
Top layer Ingredients:
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground walnuts
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar thoroughly. Add egg yolk and salt.
3. Sift flour and stir into butter mixture. Pat dough into a 9-inch by 13-inch pan.
4. Beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually add 1 cup sugar. Continue beating until egg whites are a meringue consistency.
5. Fold in ground walnuts and lemon extract. Set aside.
6. Spread slightly whipped jelly on dough crust and swirl meringue over the jelly layer.
7. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
8. Bake for 40 minutes.
Makes 3 dozen squares.
1. Please note there are two ingredient entries each for sugar and for nuts. I have italicized the measurements in the recipe text to avoid any confusion.
2. After baking, these cookies must be allowed to completely cool in the pan. They are much easier to cut once cooled, since the jelly will not be as “oozy.”
3. When cutting these cookies, remember that the meringue layer is fragile. The meringue will crack, but that’s okay. It’s part of the charm of these cookies!
4. Since they are a little messy to serve and eat, I always serve these cookies in muffin/cupcake papers. See photo.