Translating Pauline’s recipes is like assembling a puzzle. Her recipe for Muškacony, for example, contains ingredients missing exact measurements, vague baking instructions and words sprinkled in from several languages. The recipe seems to originate from Vojvodina, was written before modern stoves were used and is not often made these days. I’ve heard that Pauline, her sister-in-law Karolina and others from Pivnica made these many decades ago.
Prezli is the Hungarian word for “breadcrumbs”, and udesena is the Croatian word for “sublime”; she wrote “a sublime pattern is filled with dough”; I think she means a mold. According to one source, the cookies are called Muškacony because they are shaped like a woman’s finger and are supposed to help the man “last a little longer.” Pre-Viagra solution from Vojvodina Slovaks, I guess (must have worked – they had lots of kids back then).
- 1 ¼ cups white sugar
- Two egg whites
- 1 tbsp vinegar (I also saw a variation with rum)
- 1 ¼ cups ground nuts (such as walnuts)
- ½ cup or so of prezli (Hungarian for breadcrumbs) – mix with 1 egg yolk
- Powdered sugar
- Whip the egg whites until stiff, slowly adding in the sugar as you whip
- Fold in the vinegar, ground nuts and enough prezli to mix into a soft dough
- Form the dough into small logs the size of your middle finger (Instead, I baked mine in a log and then sliced the log, as you do for biscotti; I am afraid this change in shape may have eliminated the “performance enhancing” aspects. Will have to test it out.)
- Place the cookies on a greased baking tray and “bake on a mild fire” (or 300 degrees, if you have a modern oven, for 20 minutes, or until firm)
- Roll them while warm in the powdered sugar
This recipe was passed on from Zelka in Australia, whose Slovak family is also from Pivnica. Her mother reports that this version of the recipe was made by wealthier families and that it was a cookie made for holidays, such as Christmas. These cookies are chewier, whereas the recipe above results in cookies that are drier and harder. In reviewing her recipe, it sounds very much like the almond crescent shaped cookies that I loved growing up in Montreal.
Add 1/2 tsp ground cloves and 1 tsp cinnamon to the mix described above, reduce egg whites to 1 (and don’t whip it), substitute icing sugar for the white sugar and eliminate the prezli and vinegar. Put the sticky dough into cook molds, such as the shape of ribbons or as above, and bake at low heat as in the original recipe.