The World's Best, Time Saving, Cookie Making Kitchen Utensils
My Tools: Cutter, Pastry Brush, Bowl Scraper and Rolling Pin
The Finishing Touch - A Powdered Sugar Strainer
Baking is an Art
A little background
When my grandmother came to America from Croatia, she brought back a boatload of recipes with her from "The Old Country". As time went on, those recipes got distorted somehow. A little of this was replaced for a little of that. A new technique was replaced for an old technique. Before we knew it, the old family recipe was looking more and more like the new fangled recipe!
When I came to Croatia "for a visit", I decided to learn once and for all how to make those recipes in the traditional sense of the word. It hardly seemed fair that in 500 years' time, a recipe could stay true to itself until the turn of the 20th century when it began taking a completely different shape and form.
Two Essential Dalmatian Desserts
Because of the warm climate, coffee and dry cookies agree with the people as a light dessert after lunch or dinner. In fact, people shun dessert but like something sweet on the weekends or for special occasions. The two links below are for two Dalmatian Desserts, CVITI and HRUSTULE which are served pretty much "automatically" for every important event, be it Wedding, Baptism, Funeral, Graduation party, even Birthday. When in doubt - CVITI and Hrustule.
They are actually quite different. Cviti (which means flowers) are baked in the oven. With the strange addition of ammonia, it adds tiny bubbles to the batter and rises up while baking - something like a ghost on Halloween. Pale colored, if prepared correctly, they are not too sweet and practically dissolve in your mouth. These are cookies for grown ups or children with eclectic taste buds.
Hrustule, on the other hand look like tiny ribbony strips that are practically see through when you throw them into the hot oil. They fry up quickly, crinkling up. Made with lemon and egg, they are very fragile. Powdered sugar is sprinkled on top. They are delicious and also dissolve in your mouth.
What Baking Tools Can't YOU live Without?
Using the Zig Zag Wheel Cutter for CVITI
Freshly Prepared Dalmatian Hrustule
How to Use these Utensils
When the cookie dough is rolled out - evenly of course to ensure uniform cooking time, the zig-zag wheel is used to make the shapes of the cookies.
I end up making a circle. The cvita look like a peace sign, two fingers upwards, or if you wish, a V shape. I make a slim triangular shape with the wheel of fortune, as I like to call it, one after the other in a circular pattern so that none of the dough is wasted.
The zig zag edging is much more attractive than a straight edge. It shows the cookie's depth and makes it look finished, not raw. Like a lacy edged doily, it seems tastier to eat when it looks so nice and refined.
For the Hrustule, the wheel is also used. Rolling out the dough very thinly (and again before frying, I roll it once more), the dough is cut into long strips about 1-1/4" wide. A man's thumb is a good rule of thumb (LOL) when estimating the width. Once the pastry dough is "sliced up", it will be sectioned off, on the diagonal. The center of each ribbon piece needs to be pierced in the center. Through this hole, the ribbon will be pulled through. This makes a bow tie effect. The entire bow tie is fried quickly to prevent burning and left to drain.
- CROATIAN HRUSTULE
Light and sweet, these crispy Dalmatian wedding cookies are a traditional favorite. Fried quickly in hot oil, they are made with eggs, rum and lemon rind, and later dusted with powdered sugar.
- CROATIAN CVITE - a Croatian cookie recipe
This is the traditional recipe for Dalmatian cvita, served at weddings, baptisms, birthday parties and such. It contains lemon, anise, powdered sugar and breaks in the mouth if prepared correctly. There is no other cookie in the world like it.
Quality Tools for Long Term Use
- Easy to hold in the hand
- Not get jammed (like the cutting wheel). Bad quality tools stick and don't turn easily
- I prefer wooden tools but this is a matter of taste and preference
- The plastic scraper is a kitchen staple, but when I use expensive ingredients like liqueur, extracts and natural flavorings, every spoonful is important.
- For the pastry brush, a wooden handled brush with horsehair is for me the best choice. It washes easily and the (otherwise black nylon) brush strips don't fall out. (YUCK!)
- Most of these tools cost a bit more but have been good investments, because I have been using them consistently for the past five or more years. Reliability is important.
Using the Pastry Brush
After the Cvita are properly baked, they will need to be cooled down on a rack for an hour or so.
When the kids are in bed, I prepare a plate of regular sugar and powdered sugar. Dipping the pastry brush into a small bowl of Liqueur, each cookie needs to be "painted" and face down inserted into the powdered sugar mixture. The topping dries on nicely and the cookies are a sweet treat. They last a long time - up to a month - because they are dry. I keep them in a sealed tin container.
People who live along the coastline don't like rich creamy desserts. First of all, there aren't any meadows, just mountain and sea, so cows don't fare all that well here. Goats are more rugged and know how to survive with whatever bush they can chew on.
Dalmatian women are known for being tall, exotic looking (light skin, dark eyes, many blondes but also many Greek - looking features). They are also famous for being good women, good cooks, being feminine but also lionesses, knowing how to keep the family under control. In other words, who is the boss? The WOMAN!
Joke - where do the Dalmatian women keep the money? On the table - so grab it - if you dare! The are said to control 3/4ths of the home - the kitchen, the money, and the children leaving the fourth section - the bedroom - for the men. But I tend to think they control that section as well!
Wood and marble rolling pins
And now for a song....
The Song - A Tentative Translation
He met her on the beach on vacation. She is a Dalmatian, of course, and he is a city boy. With the Dalmatian (or Dalmatinka as the grammar goes) - she is the boss! He is mesmerized - but - what she says, goes! And there you have it!