Vanilice (Serbian Jam Cookies)
Traditional, bite sized Vanilice (Serbian Jam Cookies) that literally melt in your mouth. These cookies have a nutty flavour with a soft jam filling. In the Balkans these cookies are a staple in the “sitni kolači” (small cakes) dessert category. Perfect for any occasion and super easy to make.
Vanilice ((pronounced VAH-ny-ly-TSEH)) have a special place in my heart ❤️. They are the one cookie we had in our household every year. Yes, literaly every single year 😊. Traditionally, Vanilice are prepared for New Years eve celebrations, our Orthodox Christmas or a Slava. Vanilice are simply soft, nutty, sweet, delicious and more importantly – absolutely melt in your mouth!
What are Vanilice
Vanilice (Serbian Jam Cookies) are two pieces of shortbread-like cookies that are sandwiched with apricot preserve or jam and pressed together lightly. Then, the delicate cookie sandwich is rolled in powdered sugar and served. One unique thing about this cookie is that the longer it “sits” the better it tastes. Trust me this part is very true 😊. Usually two days or more after baking these cookies taste the best! The crispy cookie simply softens from the moisture of the jam, turning the whole thing into a bite that actually melts in your mouth! I cannot even describe that to you. You simply have to taste them for yourself.
My version of this recipe
These little vanilla cookies traditionally use two ingredients that are not very common in non-European countries: lard and vanilla sugar. Those are the ingredients I find hard to get my hands on here in New Zealand, but my recipe is in all other aspects traditional.
The dough for Vanilice is made with butter, sugar, one whole egg, one egg yolk, juice and zest of one lemon, all purpose flour and grounded walnuts. This is a one bowl recipe, which means all of the ingredients are combined in one bowl to form the dough.
Traditionally women from the Balkans used their own homemade jams or preserves as the filling for Vanilice. Apricot jam is the most traditional route! But personally, I am a big fan of strawberries which is why in this recipe I have opted for this type of jam. If you are an expert in making your own homemade jam then take the lead and use that. Using your own produce makes this recipe extra special 😊.
Creativity during the making and decoration of Vanilice is another specificity of these cookies. The most usual shape is a circle, which holds jam in the middle of it. But, you can go wild and create other shapes such as stars, flowers and hearts which are very popular as well. You can cut out the middle of every second cookie so that you get a cute heart or flower middle. This exposes the jam filling and makes your cookie platter look even prettier.
Vanilice are traditionally filled with jam and coated in confectioners’ sugar which is what makes them stand apart as a traditional delicacy. If you wish, fill these bite sized treats with any type of jam, hazelnut cream or even Nutella.
You are no doubt going to be left with some left over dough which makes it a great opportunity to create some super tiny Vanilice. You can use any left over dough to cut out some mini shapes. Once they are baked use them to form the cutest Vanilice 😊.
Vanilice are a great combination of soft, nutty cookie and sweet jam filling which make you want to start eating them straight away. Depending on the occasion, you may have some cookies left over which is no bad thing. This is because you can store Vanilice from one week up to a few months.
You should store fresh Vanilice in an air tight container. Vanilice can be stored for one week. This means that you can dip into one whenever your heart desires 😊.
Left over Vanilice can be frozen. Yes, frozen! Simply once you have prepared the cookies, skip the step of rolling them in powdered sugar. Store them in an air tight container and freeze for up to two months. Once you are ready to serve the cookies, simply thaw them, roll in powdered sugar and serve.
These delicious, bite sized Vanilice (Serbian Jam Cookies) are the best cookies to make during the festive season. Vanilice become softer and tastier with time passing. In saying this, nobody ever witnessed them being too old because they are devoured quicker than you could imagine 😊.
Did you make this recipe?
Vanilice, Serbian bite-sized small cookies made as sandwich of two vanilla and walnut cookies held together with a dollop of jam, usually served around the Christmas. Please let me know how these Vanilice (Serbian Jam Cookies) turn out for you! Feel free to leave a comment below or reach out over on Instagram.
|200g unsalted butter at room temperature|
|4tbsp caster sugar|
|juice of one lemon|
|zest of one lemon|
|400g all purpose flour|
|100g ground walnuts|
|1/2cup powdered sugar|
|1jar strawberry jam or any jam of choice|