Schtange od Oraha - which translates to sticks of walnuts in Croatian were my very favourite cookies when I was a little kid. They look like logs with snow on them.
My best friend Kim's mom made these along with my other favourite Almond Crescent Cookies every Christmas and I couldn't wait to eat them. Auntie or Teta Mitcica (Teta Meet Seet Sa) as everyone called her was/is an amazing cook and baker. These cookies are a simple walnut and egg white cookie with a lemon meringue hard icing on top. There are very few ingredients and they create a chewy, nutty cookie with a hard icing. Auntie said that she always made these after she finished her other cookies because you turn off the oven and then put the cookies in and let them stay in from 3-8 hours to dry out slowly just like a meringue. Her cookies were much prettier than mine but, they taste like childhood!
You will need:
- 250 grams walnuts -ground in food processor = 1 cup and 2 1/2 tbsps
- 250 grams sugar = 1 cup and 2 1/2 tbsps
- 2 egg whites
- zest of lemon
- juice of half a lemon
- icing sugar to roll out
heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Step 1: weigh the sugar and walnuts. If you do not have a scale then look at the container your walnuts come in (mine was 300 grams) so you can roughly determine it or you can measure approximately 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tbsp once ground.
Step 3: zest the lemon into the sugar. Squeeze half the lemon through a sieve to catch any pulp or seeds.
Step 4: in another bowl whip the egg whites with a hand mixer for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the sugar and zest into whites with mixer running. Whip on high for another minute, then add lemon juice and continue whipping on high for another 4 minutes.
Step 5: divide the meringue evenly into two bowls. Stir the nuts into one half.
Step 6: sprinkle a generous amount of icing sugar (also called confectioners sugar or powdered sugar) on the counter. You are using the icing sugar instead of flour to form your dough. This is a very sticky and wet, loose dough. You make sure there is enough sugar to pat down and form a log that should be the length and width of a finger. You will use lots of sugar to avoid sticking.
Step 7: cover a cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Carefully with a large knife slice into fingers and using another knife slide off the knife with the help of another knife. I find it easiest to chop a slice and tip the knife to move to the cookie sheet and then I use the other knife to slice off the dough from the knife (like cutting off the cookie from the knife) I also wash and dry the knife after each slice because it will have some sticky dough left on it. Once I have placed all my sticks on the sheet I then used a small off-set spatula to carefully spread the icing on each cookie. I think in future I will put the meringue in a Ziploc bag and slice off a corner and just pipe on a small amount and then smooth with a spatula.
*Kim told me that her mother puts the icing on top and then slices but, I find this way more difficult and not as clean as putting on the icing after they are sliced.
Once you are ready to bake the oven should be set to 350 degrees F. Turn OFF the oven, wait 5 minutes then place cookies on the middle rack and leave them in the turned off oven for 3-8 hours to dry out as the oven cools. I did it for 8 hours and found they are hard and I prefer them to be in the oven for approx 3 hours so they stay more chewy like a pavlova type of meringue. They are sweet, nutty and lemony and to me they look like snow on logs.