Slovak medovníky is translated as gingerbread, but it is a very different cookie, in my opinion.
Medovníky can but doesn’t have to have ginger in it, never has molasses, and has a much drier texture than gingerbread cookies. Instead of molasses, medovníky are sweetened with honey.
They are sold beautifully and elaborated decorated by artists wielding an icing bag. More medovníky cookies are made and given around Christmas time, as they are full of warm spices. The cookies can be hung as a tree decoration, as I have done here with the decorated cookies.
The cookies themselves aren’t super sweet, probably because they are usually caked in icing. I actually like them plain and are perfect tea or milk dunking cookies.
There are a couple of notes to be aware of:
These cookies are best if made in advance and left to ‘age’ for a few days or longer to soften. If you try them after baking they are rather dry and hard; let them sit in a airtight container preferably at least a week and they will much improve. I realize there are only a few days before Christmas, but I think they will still work.
Butter in Slovakia is not salted, however, feel free to use salted butter. Slovaks never put salt in their sweet baking and my North American taste buds miss it. If you want the true Slovak taste, leave the recipe as is, but if you want a Slovak cookie that tastes good to someone used to North American goodies, add a pinch of salt.
Please please please use butter, not margarine or shortening. If you have to be dairy free, try coconut oil.
Flour in Europe is available in various grinds. Normally these cookies only use the finest grind, but I used a mix to approximate all purpose flour (half finest, half medium grind).
Here is the recipe for medovníky spice mix. There is both a quick simple version and a more elaborate flavourful version.
- ½ cup (125 g) butter
- ½ cup + 1 Tbsp (180 g) honey
- 1¾ cup (220 g) powdered sugar (I used powdered rapadura)
- 3 eggs
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 3 tsp medovniky spice mix
- 5 cups (600 g) all purpose flour
- 1 egg
- Heat butter, honey, and sugar in a small pot until just melted, stirring constantly.
- While warm but not too hot (so you don't cook them) add the eggs and mix.
- In a bowl mix dry ingredients and pour in the warm mixture. Mix dough until incorporated. The dough will be somewhat sticky.
- Cover and cool in a cold place (the fridge) for a few hours or overnight.
- Roll out the dough about 4mm (1/64 inch) thick, using only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. Cut out with desired cookie cutters. Transfer to a greased or lined cookie sheet.
- Beat an egg and brush the cookies with the egg with a pastry brush.
- Bake at 180C (355F) for about 10 min, or until golden.
- When cool, store in an airtight container for a few days up to practically forever.
- Leave plain or decorate with your favourite icing (I mixed egg whites with icing sugar). Classic medovníky are often decorated only in white, with lots of curls and dots.