12 Ukrainian Cookies You Need to Taste
From luscious cream-stuffed horns to mouthwatering sweet walnuts, Ukraine has quite a few delicious bite-size cookies to brighten up your day, make a nice company to your morning coffee, or impress your guests.
Ukrainian cookie cuisine stands out due to rich but non-cloying taste and a nice balance of base and filling. If you ever visit the country, try these cookies in a coffeeshop or find them on supermarket shelves.
You might also want to bake some of them yourself and treat your family and friends. I bet at least a few out of these 12 delicious Ukrainian cookies will become your go-to cookies.
1. Horishky (Walnut-shaped cookies)
The walnut shape of these cookies has become the most popular although I remember pine- and mushroom-shaped ones from my childhood too. My grandma wouldn’t allow any major holiday to pass by without horishky, so it was our default cookie back in the day.
These pastry scallops are baked in a special mold (which you can easily get on Amazon). The ready and cooled scallops are stuffed with a mixture of condensed milk, butter, and halved walnuts and coated in powdered sugar before serving.
P.S. We used to eat up most cookies before letting them cool down. I’m not sure you’ll resist the temptation either.
2. Trubochky or horn-shaped pastries
If cookies had families, a trubochka (one horn-shaped cookie) would be a sister of horishok (one walnut-shaped cookie). They used to be served together, in one large bowl, both powdered with sugar and stuffed with a condensed milk mixture – my most beloved filling.
The key difference between these two desserts is the dough. While we use shortbread pastry for horishky, we need puff pastry for trubochky. It makes horishky harder and more reminiscent of classic biscuits and trubochky softer, like Italian cannoli.
Disclaimer: I could never choose trubochky over horishky or vice versa. They’re my top two for life.
3. Hrybochky (Mushroom Shaped Cookies)
As you’ve noticed, Ukrainians like shaping their cookies in a fancy way. I think that comes from earlier – there were few options for buying ready cookies, and women were going out of their way to ‘design’ interesting desserts to please their kids.
Hrybochky are great in that they look quite realistic. Their tops are topped with dark ganache, the stems are covered with white chocolate glaze, and the roots are dipped into poppyseed syrup. If you’ve been planning to make cookies with kids, consider this a sign you should.
The decoration process takes longer than the baking process, but it’s fun and engaging.
4. Khrustyky or crunchy things
Also known by the romantic name of ‘angel’s wings’, these are deep-fried, light-weight cookies that thaw in your mouth the very second your tongue touches one.
Khrystyky are a real find for people with no sweet tooth (are there such people anyway?) because they have no creamy filling. They are basic – you make the dough, shape it, oil-fry it, and powder the cool things with sugar.
I know it seems too easy to be yummy, but you’ll change your mind as soon as you’ve tried your first khrystyk.
By the way, if you’re lucky enough to travel to Ukraine in Christmas season, you’re very likely to be treated to these cookies. The festive recipe might as well contain a few drops of bourbon.
5. Kiflyky (Crescent Rolls)
These flaky cookies are the go-to cookie for people without a baking talent. They only require four ingredients – flour, butter, sour cream, and jam – and the trick lies in wrapping the rolls the right way.
Once you’ve kneaded the dough and let it sit for a few hours, roll it out and cut out squares. Stuff the squares with the jam of your choice (originally it was black currant jam), make tubes, and bend them into crescents to bake.
If you feel creative, you might as well add crushed walnuts inside. Voila – that’s easier than sweating over varenyky.
6. Meat Grinder Cookies
Don’t skip this one if you’re a vegetarian – these cookies have nothing to do with meat contrary to what the name suggests. Well, the name originates from the shape: there were old meat grinding devices women used to ‘grind’ ready dough for the spritz-like form.
It’s fun and easy to make these, and you can always regulate the degree of sweetness. Have your cookies plain or make a cookie sandwich by spreading home-made jam between two pieces. My grandma would classify the latter as a holiday version.
7. Zirochky (star-shaped jam cookies)
Think of zirochky as sweet sugary sandwiches with tart filling. These cookies are almost the size of a real sandwich indeed and are very similar to the famous Linzer cookies.
They consist of two dough discs, the upper one with a straw-made hole and the lower one intact. In between, you generously spread your preferrable jam (My granny always uses tart varieties like raspberry or cranberry) and cover both layers with powdered sugar.
As you let the sweet sandwiches sit for about an hour, the dough discs soften a bit, swallowing the moist of the jam. This is the perfect point to serve them.
8. Medivnyky (Honey Cookies)
That’s a traditional cold-season cookie recipe. It exists in many countries, albeit with some variations. The Ukrainian honey cookies are typically baked with cinnamon and cloves and covered with a sugary egg-white glaze.
Ukrainian honey cookies have always been made in shapes of stars. You can now find all kinds of cookie cutters though, and contemporary kitchen enthusiasts give a new life to this years-old recipe.
9. Vivsiane (Oatmeal Cookies)
Each country seems to have their own recipe for oatmeal cookies. Why not? They’re tasty, filling, and easy to make.
The secret of Ukrainian oatmeal cookies is in their plainness – they are never made with chocolate chips or any extras. You only need rolled oats, butter, flour, soda, sugar, eggs, and vanilla for the flavor.
With these basic ingredients, you somehow arrive at a heavenly taste. Perhaps, that’s because you also add a pinch of love.
10. Rohalyky (Walnut Rolls)
These walnut and jam filled rolls always remind me of Sunday visits to my granny. She’d make a few batches, and we kids would eat at least a dozen each, no jokes.
I can never get the recipe quite right although you one only needs flour, milk, yeast, and sugar for the dough and nuts and jam for the filling. I guess my grandmother had some secret ingredient she never revealed. And well, the homemade jams were to die for – perhaps they made all the difference in the end.
P.S. You can potentially do with any jam and all kinds of nuts, but the traditional recipe calls for walnuts and strawberry preserve. My grandma would kill me for using almonds in her recipe.
11. Cinnamon Twists
If I asked my grandma to pick her top two baking ingredients, those would be jam and cinnamon. She adds them everywhere she can, and that’s for a reason – there are the quintessence of Ukrainian sweets and desserts.
Cinnamon twists or cinnamon scuffles were always reserved for winter in our family, and they make a great marriage with hot chamomile tea indeed. What I like about these cookies is that they’re easy to make and always turn out great.
12. Snow Cap Cookies
If you want to really impress your guests, or if you’re a fan of the Kyiv Cake, this is your magic answer. Snow-cap cookies are meringue caps layered over a shortbread base. While it seems simple, meringue isn’t something every kitchen enthusiast can get right the first time around. The taste is totally worth all the effort though.
Imagine this perfect marriage of lightweight meringue whipped egg and crunchy undertones! Snow cap cookies can become a beautiful centerpiece of your festive table.
It’s my firm belief that the Ukrainian sweet cuisine is unfairly underrepresented in the world. As you can see from this list, it features fantastic cookies that can compete with Italian and French ones just like that. What is especially great is that most Ukrainian cookies are easy to make and can be tested as your go-to recipes, bake-together choices, or potluck options.
As soon as you’ve tried making a few of these, you’ll get more confidence in replacing ingredients, experimenting with jams and nuts, and playing around with shapes. Twist the recipes and make them yours or stick to the traditional Ukrainian recipes to feel the spirit of the country. Either way, you’ll be glad you stumbled upon this list.
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