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Perece z Gastanu – Chestnut Pretzels

Perece z Gastanu

Perece z Gastanu literally translates to “Dough with Chestnut” and is also known as Chestnut Pretzels.   These are dense savory cookies, not too sweet, and delicious served warm with a cup of Turkish coffee.   They remind me of biscotti, but are a bit more moist and flavorful.  A variation of this pretzel recipe is to put the chopped nuts in the  batter, and then to sprinkle with icing sugar.


  • 5 oz butter
  • 5 oz sugar
  • 1 lb cooked sweet chestnuts, boiled and then mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • 1 egg white
  • Handful of nuts, such as hazelnut, almonds or walnuts – chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with canola oil lightly.


  1. Carve an X on the flat sides of the chestnuts (or they will explode in the next step)
  2. Place them in cold water on the stove, bring to a simmer, then remove a few at a time and peel the chestnuts
  3. Mix the butter, sugar, chestnuts and flour together in a food processor until well blended (Pauline would have done this by hand, grinding the chestnuts through a seive)
  4. If the dough is crumbly, add a few drops of water and process again until the dough can be formed into a ball
  5. Form the dough into long, rolled pieces, about 1/2 inch thick
  6. Take the ends of two pieces and twist together .  Or braid 3 pieces together if your pieces are thin enough (I couldn’t get it thin enough).
  7. Cut the twisted or braided pieces into 1 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal.
  8. Whisk the egg white gently.
  9. Smear egg white onto top of pretzels
  10. Sprinkle with chopped nuts
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the pretzels start to turn golden colored.
Perece z Gastanu – Chestnut Pretzels
6 Comments leave one →
  1. Zelka Cani permalink
    July 30, 2010 9:04 am

    Hello Dear Tonya. I was amazed at this recipe as it is something my mum makes. I was reading the actual hand written recipe and understood every bit of it. This is actually not a cake but the word ‘perece’ is translated literally ‘pretzel’ and the written recipe actually states that the dough is plaited into pretzel shapes. The chestnuts are not roasted, they are infact cooked in boiling water in their shells. They are then shelled and the cooked chestnuts are passed through a seive which mashes them. Translations of the original recipe are as follows (the hand writing is like my mum’s). Uvarenych (cooked in water), ‘ocistenych (shelled), ‘cez sito prepasiranych’ ( put through a seive to mash) ‘robia perece’ (Form into pretzels) and in the end you then sprinkle the tops of the pretzels with chopped walnuts and you bake them. Slovak is a complex language as many confuse the Slovak language spoken in Slovakia and the Slovak spoken in Vojvodina, they are 2 different languages and if one uses a Slovak dictionary, it is most likely the Slovak country version as a Slovak dictionary from Vojvodina does not exist to my knowledge and many words that are used in your grandmother’s recipes would not be found in a Slovak dictionary because they would use different words for many of the words used in Vojvodina. It is confusing. I went to Slovakia twice and had a hard time understanding their language and I speak fluent Slovak as my mother is from Pivnica and that is the slovak I know. Also the Slovak dialect of Pivnica is different to that of Hlozan or Bacsky Petrovec, the dialects vary so much throughout the whole of Vojvodina. I am more than happy to help with any translations you are not sure of. Regards, Zelka.

    • July 30, 2010 9:09 am

      Well, I better get back to work and edit this recipe! I will send you something in a few minutes via email…

  2. Zelka Cani permalink
    July 30, 2010 9:41 am

    Tonya, glad to help and I look forward to hearing from you. I have a passion for my Slovak heritage just like you do and our families come from the same part, Pivnica. Slovak is a great culture and I was bought up in it. Even though my family moved to Australia we have kept it all going and I am so thankful now, as I get older, that my parents taught me the Slovak language as my first language as I can read my mum’s recipes and cook/bake them. From town to town in Vojvodina the recipes are the same but with slightly different twists to them. My mother-in-law is a great Slovak cook, she does not even use a recipe for anything. My husbands family still live in Vojvodina in Bacsky Petrovec. I have just received a cook book which was made up by ladies from the town of Hlozany/Glozan, they are very old original recipes to teach the young ones the old ways. I have ordered a few more of them and would be more than happy to send a copy to you. My mum was excited as some of those recipes she lost and was in a frantic cooking mode to try them all and they bought her back to her childhood. How wonderful to go back to where your roots come from.
    A pleasure to have come to know you Tonya. Blessings. Zelka.

  3. Lidija permalink
    October 10, 2010 3:05 am

    I wonder if chestnut puree would work in this recipe (I Have a can sitting in the cupboard since last Christmas 🙂 ) as it would be rally quick to make them. I have never had this pastry beofre but I love chestnuts and this looks really easy. I am surprised the revipe does not contain any raising agent (yeast or baking powder) but I guess chestnuts achieve that.

    • October 10, 2010 9:21 am

      I almost wrote to you before I started on the recipe yesterday to see if you had made this before. I’ve never seen chestnut puree before in stores, but did come across it in this recipe for a Chocolate Chestnut Torte that sounds delicious:

      I rarely see anything made with chestnuts in North America except roasted chestnuts sold on the streets in NYC, and chestnuts used in turkey stuffing at Thanksgiving.

      I wonder if the puree would be too watery. If you try it, I would not use the water I suggested and maybe add more flour. The ground chestnuts I made contained a little moisture after boiling, but not too much. The dough really needed the water to bind together.

      • Lidija permalink
        October 10, 2010 10:33 am

        Feel free to write any time. In England, chestnut puree is easily obrained in cans and vacuum packs, especially before Christmas. I try to make a cake with chestnuts and chocolate every year for Christmas as our children don’t like Christmas pudding. The recipe you sent sounds really delicious. I think you are right about the water in the puree, I will have that in mind when I try this out.
        PS. Brussel sprouts, chestnuts and pancetta as a side dish to Christmas turkey-delicious.

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