Some of my favourite Cookie Advent Calendar guest posts have a great story behind them - like this one from Peter in Chicago. His blog, which has the great name "The Roaming GastroGnome", embodies everything that I love - travel, food and family.
This recipe is a family tradition, but a dish that I've never heard of before, so I'm excited to try baking these myself!
You can connect with Peter by visiting:
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guest post by Peter from The Roaming GastroGnome
Nothing says Christmas to me like these “cookies” my Hungarian grandmother would make called porlos testa (TEE-sta). I suppose they’re more like a pastry but growing up they were my favorite, and still are. Porlos testa were really special because they were only made at Christmas, kind of like egg nog, and it seemed like everyone in her family made them. I’d get them at her house, at my great-aunt and uncle’s house where we had Sunday dinners, and at home because my mom learned how to make them. There are two kinds I'm aware of: one has a cheese topping and one has a prune/plum lekvar topping. My mother’s transcribed recipe mentions apricots so I suppose there's one of those as well but I don’t recall ever having any. Wouldn't matter if there were any on the table since the cheese ones are my favorite.
Porlos testa are extremely dense but are also extremely delicious. When you cut them up, make sure you cut them into smallish pieces. They’ll keep for a while in the fridge and make for a great addition to any cookie plate for the office or party. Cheryl brings some to her office every year and says the plate empties in 15 minutes. Even though I prefer the cheese ones both are really good with a cup of coffee.
The dough recipe is enough to make one big pan (13x9) and one small pan (8x8) and have strips of dough for the top. I make the cheese ones in the big pan (selfish reasons of course) and the prune ones in the small pan.
For the dough:
- 1 C shortening (Crisco)
- 2 C sugar
- ½ C sour cream
- 4 C flour
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp lemon extract
Cream shortening and sugar thoroughly, then add beaten egg yolks. Mix well. Sift flour and salt with baking powder. Alternate adding flour and sour cream to the mixture. Mix well. Add lemon extract. Form into a big ball cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for an hour.
For the cheese topping:
- 1 lb dry pot cheese/farmer cheese
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 whole eggs
- ½ C sugar
- 1 can of plum lekvar (12 oz) (you should be able to find this in the grocery store in the baking goods area)
Combine ingredients in bowl and mix well.
Butter/grease a 13x9 baking dish. Take dough and spread out in dish to ½ inch thickness. You can roll it out and place it in or press it into the dish with your fingers. Spread cheese mixture onto dough.
Repeat with the 8x8 dish, open up the can of lekvar and spread on top of dough.
Roll out some of the remaining dough and make strips to place in a criss-cross pattern on top of the filling.
Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until done. Cool and cut into diamond sections. Dust with confectioners sugar. These go great with coffee or tea.
The recipe and all photos used in this blog post belong to Peter Andros / The Roaming GastroGnome and should not be reprinted without his express permission.