Meet some of the most unique cookies that hail from my childhood—walnut-shaped cookies called oreshki. Oreshki means “nuts” in Russian. In this particular case, it means “walnuts.” How are these cookies and my childhood related?
Well, long ago, when I was much younger and growing up in Azerbaijan, the country was part of the Soviet Union. Which means that I, just like all other Soviet-born and -grown people, was exposed to many Russian foods that traveled through the 15 republics and consequently, adopted by most.
Among them are sweets of all sorts, including these famous Russian cookies. Soviet Union is no more (viva la independencia!), but some Russian-imported foods are still common in Azerbaijan, and they are still loved and baked.
What’s so unique about these oreshki cookies? Everything. Their shape first and foremost. They are shaped like real walnuts! And then their filling. They are filled with luscious dulce de leche mixed with crunchy walnuts. And the shells combined with the filling yield that amazing taste. When you bite on the oreshki, first, you feel a pleasant crunch and wonder what it was, then the cookies melt in your mouth. Oh my! And they are so good with tea!
I recently served oreshki to my friends who had never seen or tried them before and they all said these cookies were indeed something unique and the filling was mystery to them. Blame the mystery, for the cookies soon became history (it rhymes!).
How is that walnut shape is achieved? For that, fist we make the “walnut” shell halves. The shells are stove-baked in a special mold called oreshnitsa (walnut-maker) in Russian. I brought mine from Baku. And it is made in Russia. Where to find oreshnitsa elsewhere? Do a google search for any of the following key words and you will find many places that sell it: oreshnitsa, Russian walnut cookie mold, or walnut-shaped cookie mold.