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Cat and Dog enjoying cookies

Oh the sweet smell of baked goods at holiday time. The combination of sugar, butter, and eggs in the oven fills the air with a warmth that only comes once a year. While one can bake any time of the year, there’s just a certain feeling you only get when baking treats during the holiday season.

When Zuzana and I made a load of treats last year, she introduced me to an amazing cookie I felt deserved its own article here. Small sandwich cookies containing a sweet creme that make Oreos seem boring to the palette. Beyond their addicting flavor is their shape, round and rigid...like a walnut.

These magical cookies are called Plňené Oriešky (“pull-neh-neh or-e-esh-kee”), which translates to “stuffed walnut cookies”. Not much is really known about the origin of these tasty treats, but many signs point a birth in the Ukraine, where they are called “oreshki”. Regardless, these cookies are popular all over much of Central Europe every holiday season.

Traditional stovetop oreshki moldWhile the recipe isn’t too complex, getting a good mold is the real challenge. Traditionally, a stove-top mold like the one on the right is used. You can find them on Amazon or eBay, but I’ve been forewarned many of these are cheaply made and should be thoroughly cleaned before first use. Another idea comes from our friends at SlovakCooking.com, where they used a mini Madeleine pan.

For our oriešky, Zuzana and I got lucky with a local store called Dom itp. They had these wonderful little molds that did the job perfectly. My suggestion is to buy two sets to start, but move up to four if you’re going to bake oriešky every year.

Now then, if we have our molds in order, let’s bake some cookies.

Plňené Oriešky (Stuffed Walnut Cookies)

Plňené Oriešky (Stuffed Walnut Cookies)

Ingredients

For the cookie shells:

  • 10 1/2 oz of flour
  • 5 1/4 (1 1/3 sticks) oz of butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 oz of powdered sugar
  • 4 3/8 oz of crushed walnuts
  • 1 egg

For the filling:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 oz of powdered sugar
  • 3 1/2 oz of butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp of instant coffee (optional)

You will also need walnut molds (or something similar) for the cookies.

Instructions

Making the cookie shells:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour with the powdered sugar.
  3. Cut the butter into pieces and stir them into the flour/sugar combination.
  4. Add in walnuts and egg.
  5. Mix all the ingredients together until you have a wet dough.
  6. Working in groups, fill your available molds with a layer of dough.
  7. Bake the cookies in molds until the edges turn golden brown.
  8. Remove from the molds and set aside until you are out of dough.

Making the filling:

  1. On your stovetop, set up a double boiler.
  2. Place into the top pan the eggs and powdered sugar.
  3. Using a wire whisk or hand-held electric mixer, whip the ingredients until thick (7-10 minutes).
  4. Remove from the boiler and place into the refrigerator until fully cooled.
  5. When cooled, add in the butter and instant coffee (optional).
  6. Using a wire whisk or hand-held electric mixer, whip the ingredients until fully blended.
  7. Place everything back into the refrigerator until fully chilled.

Finishing up:

Simply make sandwiches with two cookies and some of the filling.

Quick Notes

If you need to find walnut molds for these cookies, you can find some from online retailer Dom itp. You can also look around on eBay or Amazon...or try using a mini Madeleine pan.

Filling Oriešky MoldsWhen you fill your molds, try to think more in terms of a layer of dough.  Press your thumb in so there's a dent that will hold filling.

If you've never used a double boiler, you will need a medium-sized saucepan and a second one built to go on top of it.  If you only have one, then try a metal mixing bowl for the top.  Fill the bottom pan halfway with water and bring it to a boil.  The idea is the top pan receives heat from the steam of the bottom pan.

The instant coffee (if you decide to use it) should be in its powdered form, not mixed with water.

Variations

The filling (with or without the coffee) isn't required.  You could also use other cremes, or even jelly/preserves.

Zuzana also melted some chocolate and dipped the cookies halfway into them, cooling them down in the refrigerator.

Tags: Ukraine, Slovak, Christmas, dessert, walnuts

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