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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

H for Hungary ~ Vaníliás Kifli

Event: BM #44    
Choice of country: Hungary  / Magyarország
Capital City: Budapest
Official Language: Hungarian

For "H" nation, I am hopping back to Europe and presenting these delicious and "melt in your mouth" textured Hungarian walnut cookies. One common thing I have noticed among the nations I have tried cooking from this month is that they were all invaded and ruled by foreign nations at one or other point of time in history. I know it's not a staggering fact considering that most of the nations in the world have gone through the same plight. Hungary is no exception but what is remarkable is that this nation had lost 71% of it's territory, 58% of it's population and 32% of ethnic Hungarians after World War 1. It further suffered significant damages and causalities in World War 2. 
I was in no mood for any extra history lessons after learning that and straight away jumped into the food section. Hungarian cuisine is mainly influenced by it's primary ethnic group, the Maygars and so is also known as Maygar cuisine. The nomadic lifestyle of that group and the importance of livestock has influenced the Hungarian cooking style. Traditional dishes are primarily based on meats, seasonal vegetables / fruits, fresh bread, dairy products and cheese. The mixing of different varieties of meats is a traditional feature of Hungarian cuisine. Other characteristics of Hungarian cuisine are the soups, desserts, pastries and stuffed crepes. Two remarkable elements of Hungarian cooking which attract foreigners are cold fruit soups and vegetable stews. Paprika, lard, yellow onions and sour cream are commonly used ingredients in cooking. (Source:Wiki)
I assert not to go by the simple looks of these cookies. They are dangerously addictive and extremely delicious. These deceptively simple and "plain Jane" looking cookies are called "Vaníliás Kifli". The word "vaníliás" refers to the vanilla flavor used while the world "kifli" stands for the crescent shape of the cookies. These cookies are said to have been created in the shape of the Turkish crescent moon symbolizing the celebration of the Hungarian victory over Turkish army in one of the wars. These crescents are commonly made during Christmas and are very well known in other European nations such as Austria, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia as well. These are similar to Russian tea cakes or the Mexican wedding cookies in texture and taste.
These are made primarily with walnuts in Hungary while almond substitution is more common outside Hungary. The cookie dough is somewhat fragile to shape and the baked cookies are rolled in icing sugar once they come out of the oven. The cookies are somewhat bland without the sugar coating. Originally lard was used in preparation but the modern versions have replaced it with butter. And there is another version of kifli which are a crescent shaped pastry and not to be confused with these.

Ingredients: (Makes 18 kifli or more if you make them smaller and thinner.)
1 cup all purpose flour
3 tbsp ground walnut
1/3 cup softened butter
1/3 cup icing sugar (or finely ground sugar) + extra for dusting
1/2 tsp vanilla

Note: According to the original recipe, if you are using almond meal instead of ground walnut, add 2 tbsp more butter and 2 tbsp extra almond meal to the above ingredients.
* Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and just mix enough to
 form a dough using your hands.
* Cover and let it rest in a cool place (not the fridge) for about 30 minutes. (I think I kept in refrigerator for about 10 minutes and left it on the counter for the remaining time since it was a hot day.)
* Grease two baking sheets or line them with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180 deg C / 355 deg F. 
* Divide the dough into two equal portions and shape them into logs of about 1 inch diameter. Cut the log into 2 inches sized pieces and shape each piece into a crescent.
 * Bake for about 8 - 10 minutes or until lightly golden.
* Remove them from the oven and dust them with icing sugar.


Priya Suresh said...

This crescent shaped cookies are seriously and dangerously very addictive and attactive as well.

Varadas Kitchen said...

Cute shape. Very nicely made.

Pavani N said...

Those cookies look so cute.. Perfectly made Suma.

Usha said...

Crescent shaped cookies are cute and looks delicious

Manjula Bharath said...

Those crescent shaped cookies looks seriously addictive and tempting :)

Srivalli said...

Lovely cookies Suma, nice reading about the history..the food is so much so better..

Kalyani said...

Interesting cookies without baking soda / baking powder.. looks delish.. bookmarking this Suma !!

vaishali sabnani said...

The cookies look really good. Love that sugary affect.

Harini-Jaya R said...

Lovely crescent shaped cookies.

Sapana Behl said...

Nicely made , love the sugar coating on the cookies.

Chef Mireille said...

so many similarities despite borders. I made the almond version few months ago in the Greek version of this, kourambiedes - walnut version must be equally delicious

Gayathri Kumar said...

I have made this with almonds so many times and every time I struggle to keep my hands away from the cookie jar. As you have mentioned they are so addictive. The use of walnuts is new to me. They look awesome!!

Priya Srinivasan said...

Cute looking cookies suma ! Anything dusted with sugar is always addictive! Lovely clicks!

Archana Potdar said...

These are delicious and addictive. I know from experience.