Breskvice are among the most popular Croatian festive cookies. Even when Christmas is over and Easter has not yet arrived, these arresting sweet bites find their way to our table. Be it a wedding, a birthday party, or an anniversary of some kind. So, keep this recipe close at hand and use it year round.
The resemblance of breskvice to the real fruit is so uncanny that all you want is to keep gawking at them. It’s their pink colour and their daintiness that shout perfection.
But there’s more to peach cookies than their apparel. They are buttery with a rich chocolate filling. As they melt away in your mouth, you are hit by the tart notes of the plum marmalade. Wait a bit longer and the final aroma kicks in: whiffs of fragrant fruit packed into that colour pink.
This is what peach cookies are like: first they make you swoon, only to show you there is more underneath their pretty dress.
Making breskvice has the power to galvanize the whole family. Mothers and daughters can sit for hours carving out holes in the delicate pastry. Precision is important because the care put into this cookie often travels to the loved ones. Many people give away breskvice as a present. And only those who saw them in the making know what they are really receiving.
Andrea Pisac, who has authored two top-selling Croatian cookbooks in English, shares her recipe for the Croatian favourite.
For approximately 50 peaches; baked in two batches
500 g [4 cup] all-purpose flour
2 whole eggs
200 g [1 cup] sugar
100 g [½ cup] lard
100 g [½ cup] butter
1 tbsp vanilla-flavoured sugar
½ tbsp baking powder
70 g [2 ½ oz] dark chocolate
100 g [½ cup] butter
2 tbsp plum marmalade
70 g [¾ cup] ground walnuts
Cut out crumbs from short pastry (see preparation)
Splash rum (about 2 tbsp)
200 ml [¾ cup] milk
Raspberry, cherry or strawberry extract (it needs to give red colour)
Granulated sugar for coating
For shortcrust pastry, whisk baking powder into flour to distribute evenly. Rub in butter and lard until you get a crumbly mixture.
Add sugar, vanilla-flavoured sugar and eggs. Bring the pastry together in a bowl. Wrap in cling film and chill for half an hour.
Breskvice are bite-sized need cookies. Use a tablespoon to roughly measure out the dough. Then, weigh every spoonful and make it precisely 10 g. The looks of these cookies is their forte so go all out with this step.
Roll each piece of pastry into a ball between the palms of your hands.
Place them on a lined baking sheet and fan-bake in the preheated oven at 180 °C [350 °F] for 10-12 minutes. They should turn out pale with a tinge of golden colour on the edges. Do the same with the second batch and let them cool completely.
Peach cookies are assembled from two pieces and each has a small hole. For me, a melon baller has proved the best carving tool but you can also use a short sharp knife. Be extra gentle because the pastry is fragile.
Keep the cutout pastry crumbs in a bowl to add to the filling!
Melt chocolate and butter and combine them with pastry crumbs. Add a splash of rum. Lastly, stir in plum marmalade and mix everything into a smooth paste.
To assemble a peach cookie, put enough filling to cover the hole and some more. Dress both halves of the cookie. Join the two halves and press them together.
For the decoration, pour some milk in a bowl. Mix in your flavouring of choice. It can be strawberry, raspberry or anything that will give an intense pink colour to the cookie’s final look.
Depending on the strength of the flavour extract, it might take a few tries to get the colour right. The colour needs to be strong enough to come through the layer of granulated sugar.
Have a bowl of granulated sugar ready too. Dip each side of the cookie into the coloured milk. Set aside. Do this in batches of ten: this rhythm allows a cookie to dry just enough to accept sugar coating.
If you sugar coat a cookie too soon, their moisture could dissolve sugar. A peach cookie needs to have visible sugar crystals on the surface – like drops of dew!
Peach cookies can keep for a long time, even up to two weeks. Store them in a container in a cool place, not in the fridge.
Andrea Pisac has authored two top-selling Croatian cookbooks in English – Croatian Desserts: 50 authentic recipes to make at home and Croatian Classics: 100 savoury dishes to delight your family and friends.
You can buy them via the link HERE