A Hunky in Distress!!!

Mzes-szvek-nagy-pirosI received an email from a Duquesne Hunky Blog reader that is requesting some information about a particular cookie that he husband remembers from his youth in Duquesne. The  cookie is a mezekalac and from the research I have done, is basically a Hungarian version of gingerbread.

If anyone can help Linda out, please add your recipe as a comment to this post. I have found a Youtube video, featuring a Hungarian Rachael Rae,  that illustrates how to make the cookie, but unfortunately its in Hungarian and I’m lost at the first word!

Time to pull out the ol’ cookbooks and recipe cards to help a friend out and perhaps expose a whole new group of us this this tasty delight!

Hi,

My guy, my significant other, grew up in Duquesne–he’s 64 years old, and has talked about cookies they would buy at Easter time at the orthodox church they attended  and how those cookies would disappear immediately with 3 boys in the family. He has referred to them as ” mezekalacs”. I have rustled up a couple ” mezekalacs” recipes on the internet and they are spice cookies. He says these are nothing close to the  ” light and airy” cookies he remembers from his childhood.

I’m trying ever so hard to locate the recipe. Does this sound familiar to you at all or do you know anyone I could contact? I’d love to be able to surprise him with just the right thing.

Thank you much,

Linda Whalen

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18 Responses to A Hunky in Distress!!!

  1. debbie kuchma says:

    I just heard from linda……she found the bakers ammonia in the ethnic section in giant eagle……she made the cookies and will be presenting them tonight…….thanks everyone for there input…..

    • Llinda Whalen says:

      This was the strangest baking experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve always been a baker! As Debbie posted, I found the baker’s ammonia in the mediterranean part of the ethnic foods section at Giant Eagle. Smelly, smelly, smelly kitchen! For a person who likes to eat cookie dough, this was a problem as the dough was inedible. But, the smell baked out just fine and the cookies had a texture unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. They are, indeed, light and airy, with just a teeny hint of crispness on the outside. I feel I need to work on the powdered sugar icing a bit, as it tasted raw to me right after I iced the cookies. Several days later, I don’t notice that so much. When my Duquesne Hungarian guy bit into them, they were pronounced ” just about it “! I’ve been searching for this recipe since last October and am thrilled to have located it. And I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the DuquesneHunky.com and Debbie Kuchma. Thanks to everyone else who posted, especially Lou A. for the scientific explanation. I googled baker’s ammonia, too, as I was curious about it and curious if this meze kalacs recipe is an ” antique” recipe. I learned that many Old World recipes use the baker’s ammonia and it’s used in crackers and anything you want to have a crisp to it. Thanks again to all of you. I am grateful for your help and your kindness.Linda

  2. missbtisme says:

    In reading about baker’s ammonia on Wikipedia, the entry said substituting baking powder can be done, but the results will not be as airy and light. If these cookies need baker’s ammonia, it can be obtained on amazon.com.

    Now I am intrigued by the stories and the image of those beautifully decorated cookies and want to try to make them. Two batches, with different leavening agents. For, um…science…. 🙂

    • Lou A. says:

      “For, um…science…” Everybody is right! Baking powder is sodium carbonate. Baking soda is sodium BICARBONATE, and Baker’s ammonia is AMMONIUM carbonate. Three different leavening agents; all used to produce bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. The different compounds do react at different rates and produce different amounts of gas during the preparation of the goodies in question.So want lottsa big bubbles, not so many little bubbles, something in between? Ah, that where the baker’s experience and expertise as well as cost, storage, tradition and local availability come into play… now, let’s eat!

  3. C Pobojeski says:

    Sorry Debbie I didn’t read all the comments first. You were the person I was thinking of. I know you still make them.

  4. C Pobojeski says:

    Mezes in Hungarian means honey. We had these for sale often in St Mary’s Church in Duquesne which was primarily Hungarian. I have a friend who still makes them, I will try to get a recipe.

  5. Llinda Whalen says:

    Debbie has it right–it was indeed St Mary’s Byzantine Church. Anyone else have the recipe? Thanks to all. Linda

  6. IThis is where i found the recipe with the picture what they look like
    http://traveltohungary.com/english/articles/article.php?id=103

  7. Eileen Thomas Smith says:

    I can attest to Debbie Kuchma’s delicious mezes kalach recipe that she probably got from our Aunt Mary Szabo’s recipe.who is 93 years old and lives in West Mifflin.She brought it to our Lorincz Family Reunion two years ago and it was a big hit. Good hint from Lou concerning using baking soda instead of baker’s ammonia.

  8. Ray says:

    Found this on the internet….sounds close…..do not know! Link below:
    http://www.food.com/recipe/hungarian-honey-cakes-m-zeskal-cs-367989

  9. debbie kuchma says:

    I have the recipe from my nagmama ( hungarian for grandma) …..i make them every october….that is when our church ST MARY’S BYZANTINE CHURCH on the top of Kennedy would make them …..they are light and airy and are decorated with different colors of powder sugar icing…and when i was young i can remember the special ones would have special pictures on them cut from cards…..i think these are what he is thinking of…the only problem is the recipe calls for bakers amoina….which is hard to find, back in the day you would be able to buy at any pharmacy, but my son found it on line and ordered it for me……. it also says that you should use 2 whiskey glasses of oil…LOL…Contact me at d.kuchma@comcast.com and i will give you the recipe….hope this helps

    • Lou A. says:

      FYI – as an “experienced” pharmacist, I can tell you that BAKING SODA can be substituted for “baker’s ammonia.” And, measuring 2 shots of oil is as accurate as 2 ounces. We Hunkies use what we have! The ammonia for the leavening was a common ingredient years ago, cheaper and less likely to absorb moisture and clump up; I used to sell the ammonia in bulk decades ago when I first began practicing.. and what household doesn’t have a shot glass? This all makes me feel old, but glad I might be able to contribute something.

    • Llinda Whalen says:

      Debbie Kuchma- I keep trying to email you but my email keeps coming back to , telling me I have errors in the transmission. I am so excited to have found this recipe! Would you be so kind as to send it to me at cerb324@aol.com? Thank you so much!

      • Bob Chermonitz says:

        Llinda, Debbie is married to my cousin and I had the same problem until I found Comcast is .net Not .com Use the comcast.net & you’ll get thru. I did. 🙂

      • Linda Whalen says:

        Bob,

        Thanks…I’ll give that a try! Glad to know it wasn’t just me!

        Linda

  10. Margaret Shandor Miles says:

    I don’t know that cookie but my mother (Peg) was well known as a Hungarian cook and baker of all things, especially cookies. I have all of her recipes (or most of them). She moved to 711 Catherine St. when a late teen/early adult and lived in 2 places in Duquesne until i was 5 when we moved to Pleasant Hills.

  11. Lou A. says:

    Well… just maybe they are Licitar, a traditional CROATIAN cookie…

    http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/bulgariaandthebalkans/a/licitars.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Licitar

    or maybe some else entirely since most of eastern Europe shares quite a bit of culinary expertise. Just go to any Hunky wedding and sample the cookie table. Same ingredients, different recipes, sizes, shapes and subtle flavor differences. But everyone knows
    NUTTIN’ SEZ LUVIN’ Like SUMPIN FROM D’OVEN.

    Seriously though, ‘light and airy’ leads me to Krostule and palachinka, essentially funnel cake and crepes. As I’ve said, the Magyars Slovaks, Rusyns, Poles, etc all swapped recipes for 100s of years, and of course, OURS is better… 😉

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