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Keifles (Hungarian Cookies)

November 22nd, 2009

Another family favorite, making these little guys is not for the weeknight chef – it really takes a holiday to invest this much time.  That said, it’s almost impossible to screw them up!

Prep Time: ~3-4 hours (1 day ahead for dough)

Cook Time: ~2 hours

This makes about 14 dozen so I suggest you cut it at least in half. It takes me over 4 hours of baking for the entire recipe.

Dough – Make this the night before

  • 1 pound butter (cannot substitute margarine…..must be the real deal butter)
  • 1 dozen large or xlarge egg yolks (between the first 2 ingredients, a good excuse not to share them with anyone with high cholesterol!!)
  • 5 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream (I use regular …..why use lot-fat when you started with a pound of butter?)

Cream the egg yolk and butter, vanilla and sour cream. Put in a large bowl and add the flour (don’t add all of it at once so it will be easier to work with). Knead the dough until it pulls away from the bowl… about 20 minutes (at least when you are working with the full recipe).  Roll them into balls about the size of a large marble (but round!):  Refrigerate over night. I use a glass baking dish and cover them with saran wrap.

Filling – Do this the day of

You need a nut grater which is hard to find… if you have a cuisinart-type of machine, you may be able to get a blade for it to grate nuts, or perhaps a cheese grater will work. With a grater the nuts come out light and fluffy almost like saw dust, but with a cuisinart blade it releases more oils so the nuts seem heavier and maybe a little crunchier, but it will probably turn out ok either way. You may be able to find a nut grater on the internet, look for a ‘rotary nut grater,’ usually mounts to a table and has a handle you turn to grate.

  • 12 egg white stiffly beaten
  • 5 c sugar
  • 2 1/2 pounds grated walnuts
  • Juice of a lemon

Beat the egg whites, beat in the sugar to make a merange. Add lemon and then fold in the nuts. Here is the best part……taste it….add more sugar or nuts as needed to taste.

Baking

Now it is time to roll out the keifle. The important part is to ‘size’ the board and the rolling pin. To do this you have to sacrifice one of the dough balls. To start, take only 1 ball out of the refrigerator and roll it out on the board. Pull it up from the board and put it into a ball again. Roll it in the same spot, using the same are of the rolling pin. What you are doing is getting all the butter out of the ball and into the board and the rolling pin so that the dough won’t stick when you roll the others.

Once the board is sized in once spot, take 4-6 balls out of the fridge at a time. Start with fewer at first until you get the hang of it. The idea is that when the balls are cold, the butter is stiff and you can work with it. Once the ball softens it will be harder if not impossible to get off the board.

Roll out one ball so that the dough is thin and you can peel it off the board. It will take practice. If it is sticking to the board you are probably taking too much time rolling it or getting it too thin. Thick/thin – who cares? With these ingredients, how can you go wrong?

<2016 update> Make sure you don’t overfill them, or roll them too tightly!  Also, I like to press the rolling pin into one ball, then rotate it and roll it out.  I find this helps me get a wider shape which I think is better than long and thing.

I roll one of the balls out and lift it off the board and set it to one side. I do about 6 at a time and them I fill them. when you rolled them, they probably turned out to be oval in shape. Take about a teaspoon of filling and glomp it across the short end of the oval, in the center.

/——————————\

|      X                      |

|      X                      |

|      X                      |

\ ___X__________/

Where the X’s are the filling. Then gently flop the ends over the filling, place on the baking sheet (no need to butter the baking sheet).

Bake them

Bake at 350 degtres for about 16 minutes, maybe a little longer. You don’t want them pale, but a little golden brown.

I keep them in a tupperware container to keep them fresh. If you have room, keeping them in the refrigerator will help them stay fresher. As you probably remember, Grandma kept them in the breezeway!

Serve

Serve dusted with powder sugar.

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