Miletínské modlitbičky or simply Modlitbičky are a less common type of Czech Christmas cookies but traditional nevertheless.
Modlitbičky (literally “little prayers” in Czech) was first made at the end of the 19th century in the Bohemian town of Miletín by the family of the famous poet Karel Jaromír Erben. The original sweet was a bit different from what we prepare today but the essence of it was the same. This sweet is prepared from gingerbread or perník and whilst originally the shapes were cut out from a sheet of gingerbread that cured for 6 weeks, we make the work easier at our homes and cut the shapes from gingerbread dough and use them right away.
Also, you will need walnuts, almonds and some marmalade. And Czech rum. That is probably the ingredient most difficult to get but believe me, it’s worth getting it. Moreover, you can use it to make other Czech Christmas cookies as well.
Don’t forget to check out all the Christmas recipes on Czechology!
Ingredients and Supplies
- 300 g/ oz of all-purpose flour
- 100 g/ oz of powder sugar
- 75 g/ oz of warm honey
- 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda
- 65 g/ oz of butter
- 3 tsp of gingerbread spice
- 1 egg
- whole almonds or almond halves, peeled
- rectangular cookie cutter with round corners – if you don’t have one, I’ll show you an alternative
- 200 g of ground walnuts
- 1 tsp of powdered cinnamon
- 3 tbsp of apricot marmalade
- 1 tbsp of strawberry marmalade
- optional: 1 tbsp of Czech rum (Tuzemák, Božkov)
- optional: 1 tsp of grated lemon zest
- optional: some grated gingerbread in case the filling is too liquid
- 2-3 tbsp of Czech rum
- 200 g/ oz of powder sugar
- 1 tbsp of hot water
How to make Modlitbičky
Start just like when you make gingerbread cookies. Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and knead. You can start with a wooden spoon but you’ll have to continue with your hands. At first, it might seem like there’s too much flour but just keep kneading and after some time you’ll see how the flour incorporates. The resulting dough must be nicely brown, firm and without any lumps. If you added some cocoa powder, it might be darker than mine, I don’t like adding it.
Wrap the dough in a plastic foil and let it rest in the fridge for at least two hours.
Roll out the dough to no more than 0,5 cm/0.2 in. If you don’t have the cookie cutter, you will be using a knife and in that case I recommend you to roll the dough as much into a rectangle as possible. If you have the indicated cookie cutter, it doesn’t matter that much but you can roll out a rectangle anyway, it will help you save space and use more of the dough on the first go.
Cut out an even number of shapes with the cookie cutter with round corners or…
…cut rectangles with a knife, try to make them the same size. Then you’ll need to round the corners. You can, for example, take a round cookie cutter and use it on the corners.
Place the rectangles on a baking tray and place almond halves on half of them.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/356°F and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. Let them cool down.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Mix ground walnuts, marmalade, cinnamon and rum (and the optional ingredients, if you’d like).
Put a spoonful of filling onto the gingerbread rectangles without almonds and cover with rectangles with almonds. You make a kind of gingerbread sandwich.
Press a little so the filling gets into all the corners. Then run around the edges with a spatula to wipe off any excess filling.
Put modlitbičky in the fridge for one hour and prepare the icing.
Whisk together powder sugar, hot water and rum and glaze the modlitbičky. Let the icing set and then store the cookies in a dry and cold place at least for a week, they will soften nicely.