Christmas Baskets

My mum used to simply call them Košíčky (Baskets) and that’s how these dainty cakes are recorded in my old hand-written recipe book. Mum always made them for Christmas, because she knew they would be winners and none of us would make excuses to avoid helping. It was quite a lot of work, granted, but there was also a fair chance to get a sneak lick of the cream or the chocolate icing when Mum wasn’t looking.

I can’t remember when was the last time I baked Košíčky, but it seems long enough to dust this old classic off and give it a new twist. The good thing about Christmas Baskets is that you can bake the pastry well in advance, and do the cream and icing a couple of days before Christmas. And that’s what I did.

In the recipe below I only reduced the amount of sugar for the pastry, but changed the ingredients for the cream/filling. If you want to give it a go, make sure you have enough cake moulds. As you can see in the photos below, I used a pack of fluted tartlet pans (60 mm diameter).

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Christmas Baskets

Christmas Baskets
Makes about 60

For the pastry:

  • 100 g ground nuts (I used walnuts)
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 150 g butter
  • 50 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ sachet baking powder (about 7 g)
  • flour for dusting

For the filling:

  • 450 g thick yoghurt (Greek is perfect)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1½-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • jam (I used home-made blackberry one)
  • canned or fresh fruit to decorate

For the chocolate icing:

  • 100 g cooking or dark chocolate
  • 50 g margarine or shortening

Method:

I like to have my nuts freshly ground before baking, although they can be bought at the store these days. In Slovakia, walnuts are by far the most popular for baking.

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I use my old, but very reliable hand grinder to grind walnuts.

To make the pastry, put all the ingredients in a large bowl and combine well until a smooth, soft dough has formed. I always knead the dough by hand, but a food processor is fine as well, I guess. Cover the bowl with a dishtowel and let the dough rest for an hour in a cool place.

Prepare the cake moulds and start filling them like this:

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and bake each batch for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool down and remove the baskets from the moulds by tilting them gently, as seen in the photo below:

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The baked baskets slide out of the moulds easily. Store them in an airtight container or start filling them straight away.

Spread a little of the jam at the bottom of each basket.

To make the filling, mix the yoghurt with the sugar and the cinnamon in a bowl. Fill in each basket with the yoghurt mixture and level the surface. Put a piece of fruit in the middle. Cover with the chocolate icing.

To make the chocolate icing, follow the instructions here.

Let the baskets rest in a cool place for at least 24 hours, in which time the pastry will have absorbed all the flavours and softened.

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A very happy and peaceful Christmas to you all!

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