Bulgaria's cuisine contains a unique blend of flavors reflecting the country's position in Southeast Europe. Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern influences combine with the country's native Slavic traditions. Many people say that they can detect influences from further afield as well such as a bit of Hungarian cuisine, a taste of Italy, and just a hint of the Mediterranean.
Maslenki are jam-filled Bulgarian Christmas cookies beloved by children. In Bulgaria, they are traditionally made with lard, but you can substitute butter if you wish. Be sure to find the best lard you can, unhydrogentated and organic is best.
This recipe makes a beautifully pliable dough that doesn’t spread while baking, so you can place the cookies very close together on the baking sheet. Maslenki can be stored and enjoyed for up to a month. The longer they stand, the softer they become.
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup lard
4 cups white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
your favorite jam
Beat the eggs well. Add the sugar and beat until light and foamy, about 5 minutes.
Melt the lard (or butter) and let cool slightly. Temper the egg mixture by pouring a little of the lard into the eggs and mix well. Then slowly add the remaining lard to the egg/sugar mixture.
Combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture to create a firm dough. Divide into 3 balls. Roll out each ball until it is 1/4-inch thick. Use a knife or cookie cutter to cut into 2" sqares. Place on baking sheet.
Bake in an oven preheated to 375°F for 8-10 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool completely. Add a teaspoon or so of the jam to top of each cookie. Dust with powdered sugar.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Recipe courtesy of Mother Linda's Olde World Cafe and Travel Emporium.