In anticipation for the start of the festive season, we tried our hand at making traditional Licitarsko Srce! We absolutely love the Croatian tradition of making “gingerbread” (they technically aren't gingerbread) cookies and hanging them on Christmas Trees. Traditionally, young men gave these heart-shaped cookies to women they were fond of as a sign of affection. The licitar can be purchased at many souvenir shops around Croatia and in particular Zagreb.
Photo Source: https://www.licitar.hr/en/about-licitars
While on our road trip around the US and Canada, we had the opportunity to make these ourselves and later realised that this was a pretty long process. If you are interested to try to make these yourself, ensure you allow around 1 week for the entire process to be completed. It wasn’t until we were half way through the recipe, that we fully understood how lengthy the process is.
Glaze: (Since gelatin is quite expensive, we only made half of this glaze recipe which was enough for all of our licitars)
Decoration: (we cheated and ended up buying pre-made cookie icing to speed up the process, however I would like to make the decoration by scratch next time 😀 )
Yield: 60 Croatian Licitars
Timeline Process based on our experience:
Mix together dough ingredients and let stand about eight hours.
Knead the dough again and roll out on table with rolling pin. Cut the gingerbread with the gingerbread moulds. At this step, we created a hole at the top of the licitar using a straw in order to put the string through at a later stage. Place the cookies on greased and floured baking pan. Preheat oven to 300ºC / 500ºF and bake gingerbread several minutes (I baked them for 10 minutes). After baking, remove excess flour from the gingerbread and leave to dry for several days.
Soak gelatin in water, mix well and cook in double-boiler until thick. I had trouble getting it to be thick and was later told that there is a specific temperature that the glaze needs to be for optimum glazing. This is the tricky part so if you have the chance to get this to the right texture please comment in the section below of how you achieved this result.
Add red colour. Put a string through the hole in the cookie and dip the smaller licitar shapes into the glaze, remove them and hang them to dry (at least one day). Add glaze to larger licitar shapes using a pastry brush.
We dipped all of the licitars into the glaze and double glazed them a few hours after the first glaze. We hung these on a handmade stand (photo below)
We found hanging the licitars a bit of a difficult process. We created a handmade stand (photo below) and strung string from pole to pole which we then tied the licitars too. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
How to easily remove Licitars (point 2 above)
Photo: Licitars are stuck together
Photo: A "gooey" licitar (Point #4 above)
To decorate the licitar, combine the ingredients and fill a pastry bag and add the desired nozzle. When the decorations are dry, the licitar is finished. In the end, if you don’t like the creation, you may freely eat it!
We cheated at this point due to time constraints and purchased pre-made cookie icing. Once decorated, the cookies needed to dry for at least 4 hours before stacking. If you are transporting these, we separated the dry cookies with parchment paper and ensured these were stored at a cool temperature. They melted onto the parchment paper when they got too warm.
We hope this recipe and tips and tricks make your licitar making easier! It is very rewarding and something really nice to give to your friends and family as gifts! Good luck and let us know how you go 😀
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🇭🇲🚗 We are excited to be back in Australia and attending several Croatian Festivals leading up to Christmas! We can't wait to see everyone again 😍