Christmas is closely associated with spending time with your family, sharing gifts and love, and reminiscing on fond memories from your childhood.
One thing that can especially trigger those memories is the smell of just-baked traditional Christmas cookies coming from the kitchen. In many households, these are usually gingerbread cookies, spreading their sweet and spicy aroma throughout the room. However, Serbian Christmas cookies are a bit different but just as tasty, if not even more. Before we show you how to make them, let’s find out what makes them so special.
What Are Vanilice?
They are called “Vanilice” due to their predominant vanilla aroma but their actual taste is much more complex. The taste of sweet vanilla mixed with ground walnuts, and coupled with apricot jam, gives them their unique flavor that will make your mouth water just by smelling them.
In Serbian families, these Christmas cookies have been traditionally prepared for decades, usually by tireless grandmothers who were meticulous in making sure they are perfect every time. Each family has their own recipe that has been passed on from generation to generation, to the point that no one actually knows how old it is. However, every recipe for vanilice might differ just slightly and it all comes down to personal taste.
Today, we’re going to let you in on our very own special vanilice recipe so that you can enjoy them at your own home during Christmas time.
The Authentic Vanilice Recipe
The ingredients are pretty straightforward, and you don’t have to be a master of the cooking craft in order to enjoy this sweet delicacy. Apart from the things on the list, you can put in a little bit of love and creativity — it is Christmas after all.
For our recipe you will need:
- 500 grams of all-purpose flour
- 200 grams powdered sugar
- 2 small packs of vanilla sugar or 1 vanilla bean (if you can acquire it)
- 200 grams of lard
- 250 grams of granulated sugar
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- Squeezed lemon juice from a single lemon
- 1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
- 250 grams ground walnuts
- And lastly, homemade jam or marmalade
Start off by mixing the lard with the granulated sugar and the vanilla sugar. Once your mixture is stirred together nicely, add the whole egg (and the egg yolk) and continue mixing until everything blends in.
Afterward, you’ll want to add the lemon juice together with the grated lemon zest and the ground walnuts. Continue mixing while gradually adding the all-purpose flour until you end up with a consistent dough. This next step is important and requires a bit of patience. Leaving the dough in the refrigerator for up to an hour will give it just enough time to settle, and while it might slow down the process of making vanilice, it will definitely be worthwhile in the end.
After the dough has “rested” it’s time to spread it and use a small glass to shape your cookies before throwing them in a preheated oven. If you have a couple of unique cookie molds lying around the kitchen, by all means, use them and get creative.
Once you’ve baked them for about 20 minutes on 180°C, it’s time for our favorite part. Apply the homemade apricot jam, and finish them off by sprinkling powdered sugar on both sides, the top and bottom.
There you have it, all you need is a couple of simple ingredients, a little bit of patience, and some tasty jam to top it off. We hope you’ll enjoy these traditional Serbian Christmas cookies and share them with your loved ones. For more tasty recipes check out our blog.
If you’re looking for unique cuisine, head over to our Serbian Restaurant.