Such as it is. When I made these last year, I neglected to write down the recipe or yield. You’ll be happy to know I now have a notebook in my kitchen for just this purpose.
I had every intention of making Ůly this year, and I may still. But by the time I do it, and post the recipe, Christmas will probably be past. So I’m going to go ahead and give you the rough directions, and, when I make the cookies, I’ll write it up properly.
The cookie has three components. The first part is the beehive. For this you’ll need a special mold, and it’s not easy to find. I’ve found them in the past at Slovak-Czech Varieties, but they seem to be out now. You might try contacting them in case they have a few spare ones hiding.
340 g (12 ounces) walnuts
320 g (1-1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
2 egg whites
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and grind to a paste. Now it gets tricky.
My mold is wooden, and I found that I needed to dust its insides liberally with cocoa, in between each cookie shaping. Take a small ball of the paste (it will depend on your mold how much you need) and push it into the mold,using your thumb to make it an even thickness all around, and to be sure the paste takes on the shape of the mold. You want the thickness of the sides to be somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inch.
Then, by hook or by crook, get the paste out of the mold. You’re on your own here—mine seemed to come out with a little coaxing and tapping. I have no idea how much easier or more difficult the plastic molds are. Some actually have hinges and swing open. Presumably they’re easier to use.
Allow some time for this. I think it took me a couple of hours (but I’m kind of slow at such tasks). Let the Ůly air dry on a cookie sheet for about a day.
The second part is a butter cookie base. For this you might use Lillian Langseth-Christensen’s recipe for Souvaroffs, originally published in Gourmet in December 1984, and reprinted in the new The Gourmet Cookie Book (a very pretty and tempting book). The Ůly are generally cut into circles; a daisy or crinkled round cutter might also be nice. I’m planning on using this recipe this year, with the added rum (natch).
The third component is the filling. My mother-in-law fills hers with a chocolate filling, but I remember her mother-in-law using a rum filling. Perhaps that was just wishful thinking? For this, I used the pastry cream (it’s beaten slowly into butter and sugar) recipe included in my Gourmet story about cookies in Czechoslovakia. The Pink Cuts recipe (cake and pastry cream) is available on Epicurious. I added rum to taste.
But you could use any buttercream filling.
Once you have all three components, you assemble the cookies. Fill each Ůly with the pastry cream, and dab a little extra onto the bottom edge of the nutty exterior. This will serve as cement. Carefully affix to a cookie base (they break easily!). And enjoy.
I’ll try to let you know how my Ůly turn out. Good luck with yours!
Remember last year, when all my kids were away for Christmas? Well this year they’re all home. Being all together again makes for a house full of fun. Fun and noise and mess and chaos and loud dinners.
It also means five adults (or five adultish people, and I count myself as only adultish on many days) living on top of one another in one modest sized house. With one bathroom. I mention the bathroom purely for literary effect—it actually is rarely a problem for us, but I’ve noticed the idea of one bathroom does seem to strike terror in the hearts of many.
So blogging is on a bit of a hiatus. Consider this a quick catch-up.
First, about those cakes. I’m ashamed to say I’ve only baked six of them so far, the Caramel Cake, Punschtorte, Zigomar, Rum Baba, Heirloom Banana Layer Cake with Prune Plum Filling and Seafoam Icing, and Persian Love Cake. I will be baking Pavla’s cake after Christmas, to celebrate Pavla’s birthday (she was my husband’s grandmother). Still, that’s only a 70%, which is barely a C.
I think I’ve earned some extra credit though. I’ve made a bunch of birthday cakes (David Lebovitz’s banana cake with mocha frosting from his newest book, Ready for Dessert; a Blum’s Coffee Crunch, Flo Braker’s Eggnog Pound Cake, to name a few). And I’ve made some other cakes just because.
I’ve also eaten a few cakes this year. Or at least some pieces of cake. So all in all, I’m going to give myself an 88% for the year in cakes, high enough to feel like I did a decent job, but clear that there’s room for improvement in 2011.
Cakes in 2010 also led to a new friendship. Joanna has a cookie blog called Carpe Cookie, but we talk cake more often. The first time we met we chatted in a café, finishing each other’s cake sentences. Neither of us care for cream cheese frosting, and we both think brown sugar and butter is just about the finest combination that exists (she browns the butter as well, and I like to tuck in a little bourbon to that mix).
One other 2010 resolution that I think I’ll pull off: reading a book a week. It seems like a lot to many people, and just a normal year’s reading to others. I’ve just finished book number 47, so I have five to go. At this point I’m reading novellas and other short books, which is only slightly cheating.
Number 47 was M.F.K. Fisher’s Consider the Oyster. I was gratified to see that she loved the Ramos Gin Fizz at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans—I did too! In fact, I had them at the Roosevelt twice. I was also amused to read that she had two abominable Ramos Gin Fizzes away from the Roosevelt. I did as well (one tasted suspiciously like an Orange Julius, but not in a good way).
Now that it’s December 15th, my thoughts have long since turned to eggnog. I started Thanksgiving morning at Coffeehouse Northwest. They open up Thanksgiving morning and give away drinks—the tips all go to charity. I enjoyed a fortifying ‘rum nog’—hot eggnog with a shot of rum. Steamed to an accompanying chant of ‘rum nog rum nog rum nog’ by the baristas. The nog, and especially the conviviality of Coffeehouse Northwest, made for a warmer day.
Last year I finally made Ůly cookies, the Czech beehive cookies filled with rum buttercream that I wrote about in my first big break in Gourmet Magazine (‘Think Pink’, November 2006). I’d planned on getting a recipe up here this year, but haven’t made them yet. So I’ll put up a vague recipe instead…in the next couple of days. I had tracked down a mold for the beehive at the online shop Slovak-Czech Varieties, but they seem to be out now. I think they get them each year, so check back with them.
Finally, the blog will be only off and on for the next month. After New Years I’m heading to Key West for the Key West Literary Symposium, The Hungry Muse: an Exploration of Food in Literature. It’s hard to write this without getting a little dizzy from the excitement. Here are just a few of the speakers: Calvin Trillin, Ruth Reichl, Diana Abu-Jaber, Judith Jones, Molly O’Neill, Jonathan Gold, Mark Kurlansky, Madhur Jaffrey, Roy Blount Jr. Well, you get the picture.
And did I mention Key West? In January? I think it will be a fine ten days.