Saturday, December 18, 2010

Savoring--Elegant Holiday Dessert Bar Recipe--Hungarian Pastry

When I made this dessert to bring to a holiday gathering, people raved about it, as always happens. Hungarian Pastry is elegant and festive looking and is melt-in-your-mouth yummy. The recipe is a family holiday favorite, originally given to my mother by a friend with Hungarian roots decades ago. Although we always called it Hungarian Pastry, it probably has an actual Hungarian name--if any of you know, please share its real name.
Preparation takes some time, but, in my opinion, making any kind of bar is simpler and less time-consuming than making cookies (all that placing individual dollops of dough and lifting them off the cookie sheet one by one :>). Made in a rimmed 10" x 15" sheet (sometimes called a jelly roll pan) and cut small, the recipe makes a generous number of bars--two platters full (the photo shows just one). One of the photos shows the kitchen tool that simplifies spreading layers--not the first time I have showed it to you. A staple in my mother-in-law's kitchen, we have these angled spreaders in several sizes. I used one about a foot long for this recipe. Then again, a kitchen knife will do.
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs (separated)
2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
dash salt (up to 1/4 tsp.; I use less)
1 tsp. baking powder
20 - 24 oz. jar raspberry (or other) jam
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1. Cream butter and sugar together well in large bowl.
2. Carefully separate the 3 eggs--put whites in a different, medium-sized bowl and set aside. Put yolks into the butter/sugar mixture.
3. Add vanilla and mix well again, until fluffy.
4. Sift the dry ingredients together (full disclosure; I don't bother to sift) and add gradually to creamed mixture, blending well.
5. Spread this soft pastry mixture on a 10" x 15" rimmed baking sheet and press out until firm and even.
6. Spread jam over the pastry layer, covering as well as possible. If jam is very thick, you can stir it first.
7. Beat egg whites until stiff and spread over jam with a light touch. It doesn't hurt if the jam and egg whites mix a little here and there, but they should be as separate as possible.
8. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes. Check toward end of time to keep nuts from burning. The egg whites will split here and there.
Cool in pan on wire rack. Then cut into fairly small bars (your call; I think I cut 64 bars, 8 across and 8 down).
May all your seasonal treats be sweet and beautiful. We joyfully and gratefully celebrate Christmas and wish all you other Christmas celebrators a merry and meaningful day. And we pray that all of you enjoy a happy and healthy New Year. Especially for those whose 2010 has been difficult, we pray for better times ahead.
Question of the day: What is your family's favorite holiday dish or treat?


  1. I think these are really called fat pills. My wife also makes a variety of fat pills. Calling them bad names seems to have zero effect on my intake. This looks reeeeealy good.

  2. These look delicious and the recipe seems pretty easy to make to. Thanks for sharing the recipe; I'll have to try it!

  3. Welllllll, I guess you are right, GQ; that's why I like to make a batch to take to a gathering but never just for us at home. Saved us four bars from this batch--enough to savor--too few to get fat on. I appreciate your visit.

    Great to hear from you, Anne; thanks for commenting. To me, the recipe doesn't seem hard, but it does take a little while to make the layers. Let me know how you like it.

  4. Oh My Goodness! I think the calories are jumping out the monitor as I type! Such a bautiful dessert must be too scrumptious for words! Thanks for sharing the recipe! Your photos are magnificient!

  5. Looks delicious.
    Will have to give it a try ..... and then go on a 50 mile bike ride. Ha ha!

    Mary, MELE KALIKIMAKA from Hawaii !!

  6. Rosemary, thank you for your kind words about the photos. Love it when you visit and comment!

    I appreciate your lovely greeting, Lisa. It's always good to hear from you, from your island Paradise.

    Hey folks, the calories are not as bad as y'all seem to think. These can be cut very small and enjoyed one morsel at a time. Also, they freeze well as long as they are very well-sealed. That puts temptation out of sight for a portion of the goodies. Moderation is key (isn't it always?!) I would rather eat an occasional super dessert than waste a single minute or calorie eating mediocre or packaged sweets.

    Sorry, that's my rant for the day. I eat very few sweets and really enjoy the ones I do eat, totally guilt-free.