Exploring Croatian Recipes: Christmas Baking - Orascici (Little Walnuts)

December 11, 2022 - Christmas baking in Croatia starts as soon as December rolls around. The goal is for the Christmas dessert table to be as bright and colourful as possible, full of cookies and cakes and everything in between. Boxes of various little treats are gifted to family, freinds, nieghbours, brought to office parties, schools and kindergartens. Sweet treats are a key component of Croatian Christmas traditions. They bring a lot of joy to both the visitors and the hosts, and the process of baking them is the perfect tool for families to come together and enjoy moments of bonding. Today we explore one of the oldest Croatian recipes to find itself on Santa's list - orascici.

Orah means walnut in Croatian. While walnuts are the main ingredient used to make them, the diminutive orascic (little walnut) refers to the shape of these treats. The cookies are baked in a special type of metal mold which has the shape and the texture of a walnut half. The halves are then filled and glued together to form a whole nut. It is slightly ironic that they are called little though, since most of them turn out bigger than actual walnuts. They are incredibly fun both to make and look at, and no matter how many there are, always the first kind to vanish from the plates.




- 300 g flours

- 125 g butter

- 100 g lard

- 100 g ground walnuts

- 150 g icing sugar


- 100 g butter

- 200 g icing sugar

- 200 g ground walnuts

- 50 ml milk


1 Soften the butter and combine all the ingredients into a soft dough.

Grease the molds and dust them with flour to create a barrier, otherwise the cookies might stick.

Fill out the metal molds, leaving an indent in the middle (follow the shape).

Bake the cookies at 180 °C until golden (they will rise once they start baking - when they fall back down they're ready to go).

Unmold the cookies while they're still hot.

2 Soften the butter and combine the ingredients for the filling, using warm milk to bind them.

Fill out both halves and stick together to create walnuts. 

* This is the traditional recipe, using traditional techniques and ingredients. The metal molds can be found at most Croatian markets, baking and vintage shops, as well as online. If you cannot find them, you can cut out any shape and use the same filling to create sandwich cookies of the same taste. Butter can be used instead of lard.

Pro-tip: orascici are best made up to 10 days in advance and stored in tin boxes.

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