Sometimes, you realize things about your family years later. During Christmas growing up, we’d always get a box of German cookies. There was an assortment of shortbread, sugar cookies and a different looking gingerbread. My mom always made her own version of all of these, so it was somewhat unusual to have this particular box of cookies. Sure they tasted okay, but it seemed redundant.
Recently, I came upon a recipe for Hungarian gingerbread, mézes puszedli, and it suddenly made sense. This dome-shaped cookie with royal icing was very similar to the gingerbread in that box all those years ago. My dad was looking for a taste of home and it was one of those recipes that perhaps he didn’t learn from his mother before emigrating to Canada.
When I made this recipe last week, it immediately took me back to being an eight year old, sitting under the tree, playing with tinsel, listening to relatives talk Hungarian to my dad. I’ve played around with the recipe a little more to make it resemble the cookie I remember even more. The little cracks on the top are intentional, but I’ll give options for both if you want a smoother topped cookie. Enjoy!!
- 3 cups spelt flour (or whole wheat flour)
- 3-1/4 cups soft white flour (pastry flour)
- ¾ cup honey
- ½ cup golden syrup (if you want a smooth top to your cookie just use this amount of honey instead along with the other honey)
- ⅓ cup icing sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 cup softened butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 1-1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 3 tsp baking soda
- 2 egg whites
- 1-1/4 cups icing sugar
- A few drops of lemon juice
- Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Start to stir together with a wooden spoon, then get in there with your fingers and start to blend the ingredients into a soft, yet slightly sticky dough. It'll take a few minutes but it will come together.
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Take balls of dough, roughly 2cm/1" in diameter and place them on the prepared baking sheets roughly 2cm/1" apart. The cookies will spread slightly while baking, but not too much. Bake in the preheated oven for 9-10 minutes. Transfer to some paper towels to cool. While they cool slightly prepare the icing.
- Place a pot of water over medium heat. When the water comes to a simmer, place a metal or glass bowl over it. Add the egg whites and whisk until it gets frothy. Add the icing sugar and whisk until combined. Add the lemon juice and whisk until medium peaks form. It should have the texture of a soft marshmallow.
- Dip the tops of each cookie in the icing and allow to set on parchment paper for several hours. They can be frozen for up to a month or refrigerated for a week.