As I mentioned with the Polish Pierniczki, you don't have to be skilled with royal icing to decorate these cookies! Involve the children and let them decorate the cookies as you would sugar cookies- using the store-bought frosting. It is traditions like this that are dying here in America, because we don't pass these on to the up and coming generations! (My grandma made several different kinds of cookies, but I never remember her doing the perniky for ANY holiday!) So, whether you are of Slovak descent, or not, you should try making these! They truly are not hard to make at all. Plus they last a long time, are super cute and festive, and incredibly delicious!
Yield: About 4 dozen+ (depending on sizes of cut cookies)
***This recipe is adapted from the "Czech American Cookbook" from Nebraska 1986
Ingredients for Perniky dough:
1- 16oz. bottle of honey (1#)
1/2 cup of hot water
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temp.)
2 egg yolks
zest of 1/2 an orange or lemon
1/4 t. allspice (4 whole)
1/4 t. cloves (a few whole)
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cardamom
1 star anise (whole)
1/2 t. anise seed
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 T. baking soda
4-5 cups of flour
Optional: Egg wash (1 egg white, splash of water)
Royal Icing: **May need to double or triple this
1 egg white
1 1/2- 2 cups of powdered sugar
1 t. rum or orange extract
Additional items for decorating: parchment triangles, tips, gel colors, or dragees.
1) In a double boiler, combine the honey, water, and brown sugar, until sugars are dissolved. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.
2) When sugars are cooled, add the butter, egg yolks, and zest until well mixed. If using whole spices, (star anise is only found whole!), add the whole spices to a coffee grinder and grind well. If there are still larger flecks that remain, use a sifter to add to the dough, and discard any larger pieces of spice that was not ground. Stir in the baking soda and flour, until a nice dough forms. Because of the honey, the dough will be a bit tacky! Once the dough seems to have had enough flour added, divide the dough in half, flatten, and wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple hours, or overnight.
Note: If you cannot find whole star anise, omit from the recipe, and just use the other spices listed.
3) When ready to roll out, preheat oven to 350F. Remove one half of the dough, and roll out on a clean and floured surface- making sure to add more flour as necessary when rolling. Roll out to 1/4 in. thickness, and cut out desired shapes using cookie cutters. Place the shapes on a parchment or silpat lined sheet trays, and then transfer the trays to the refrigerator for 10min. prior to baking, (to help keep the shape). Remove from the refrigerator, if you would like a glossy finish, then egg wash the cookies at this time, then place trays in the 350F oven for 10-12min. Remove cookies when golden brown, and allow to cool before frosting.
4) You can finish cookies by using purchased tubes/ cans of frosting, or make the recipe above for royal icing by simply whisking the egg white, and powdered sugar slowly to adjust thickness. Add the rum or extract at the end. Decorate your cookies as you wish, and have fun with it!! Enjoy them with your family, or give them out as gifts or treats to friends and relatives! ***These can actually last weeks if stored in an airtight container.
"Stastne Velikonoce" or Happy Easter!!