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St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) Czechoslovakian Moon Cookies

A Recipe of Thanks for Generosity

from John and Anne Patterson, Baltimore, Maryland, and the Kitchen Sisters, Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson

 

Sketch of crozier and miter with St Nicholas words
Return address on box
Photo: C Myers

Czechoslovakian Moon Cookies
Photo: John Patterson

Frosted cookies, ready to cut into moons
Photo: John Patterson

Full moon cut at beginning of row
Photo: John Patterson

Crescent moons being cut-out
Photo: John Patterson

Full moon, surrounded by crescent moons, ready to serve on St. Nicholas Day
Photo: John Patterson

NPR.org, December 24, 2004

"My name is John Patterson. I'm calling from Baltimore, Maryland. In [St. Mary's Episcopal Church] in Abingdon, where my mother was a member of the Ladies Altar Guild, they took on adopting an immigrant family, the Jaraslava Pouska family. They found a house for them, furniture, and so forth. And as a thank-you gift, Mrs. Pouska would come every year, just after dark on December 5th, the eve of St. Nicholas Day. She would sneak up to the house, and we would hear a loud 'boom, boom, boom' on the door. No matter how fast we dashed, we never saw who delivered the wrapped carton with a return address that simply stated, 'Saint Nicholas.' Inside, there would be a special tin of Czechoslovakian moon cookies and a poem to members of our family. It was a tradition the Pouska family had brought with them from the outskirts of Prague to our small American town.

"At Mrs. Pouska's funeral we learned that she had left each member of the Altar Guild the recipe for Czechoslovakian moon cookies in her will. In my twenty-five years as a teacher, I have told this story each year to my students and given each of them a Czechoslovakian moon cookie on St. Nicholas Day, a day that truly speaks of the generosity from one to another. Now, when those former students invite us to their weddings, we give them the recipe and a serving tray for Czechoslovakian moon cookies. From a simple tin of cookies Mrs. Pouska's generosity and thanks has spread from family to family, from teacher to student, and friend to friend, one moon cookie at a time."

The Pattersons share the recipe, writing: "This is a gift of thanks for generosity from Jaraslava (Jerri) Pouska to the family of origin of John Patterson and his wife, Anne, and their own family, his students, their friends of the heart, their family of choice, and now all those who listen and hear that this is a way to extend the gift of thanks for generosity."

We hope that you can honor the Pattersons' request that those who make these Czechoslovakian Moon Cookies do so with one purpose in mind—to give them to others as a token of generosity and thanks.

     6 oz. chocolate bits
     ½ cup English walnuts
     ¾ cup butter
     7/8 cup of sugar
     4 eggs, separated
     1 3/8 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a 10x15x½-inch jelly roll pan. Grind chocolate bits and walnuts to a powder in a food processor or coffee grinder. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add egg yolks, nuts and chocolate powder, mix.

In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Carefully fold egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, then lightly fold in the flour (do not over mix). Spread batter evenly in the well-greased pan (batter will be about ¼–½-inch thick). Bake until lightly browned (10–15 minutes or when a toothpick comes out clean).

While cookies are baking, make the frosting

     2 tablespoons butter
     ½ pound confectioners sugar
     drops of almond or vanilla extract, Stroh rum from Austria or rum flavoring
     1 tablespoon milk, or more if needed

Cream butter and sugar together in a small bowl. Flavor with drops of extract or rum to taste. Add milk, using more if needed to make frosting creamy, but not runny. Set aside.

Spread frosting on warm cookies so frosting soaks in a bit, but forms a nice glaze. Cool completely. Use a thin-edged glass or deep 2¾-inch cutter, to cut crescent moon shapes. Start at one corner and cut one "full moon," then move over about ½-inch to cut a crescent moon. Continue until each row is finished.

Give as a gift in a tin in layers, divided by waxed paper or aluminum foil, with a full moon in the center and crescent moons in a circular fan surrounding it, or give as one layer on a serving plate.


From Hidden Kitchens by Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson, copyright © 2005 Rodale Press. Used by permission. Purchase from amazon.com, amazon.ca or amazon.uk.

Listen to John Patterson's call to the Kitchen Sisters on NPR (needs RealPlayer).

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