It was about 20 years ago when her son, Daniel, was learning Ukrainian dancing that Marcia Moroz started making Ukrainian dancer cookies. Moroz volunteered to do the Christmas goodie bags for the young dancers in her son’s class.
“I asked my son what he thought would be good to put in the treat bags. He said, ‘Gingerbread Cossacks!’ I said, ‘Sure, as long as you help.’ I designed a cookie cutter and we went to work on the project. And, of course, the Gingerbread Dancing Cossacks were a big hit with the kids.”
Moroz continued to make the cookies for family and friends at Christmastime. After Daniel grew up and became involved with the B.C. Ukrainian Cultural and Dance Festival, he encouraged his mom to make the cookies for the festival dancers.
Moroz changed the recipe to sugar cookies as the festival was held in May, and added a female dancer to make a “Poltava pair.” Later a “Hutzel pair” and a “baba” were added, making a total of five different Ukrainian cookie “people.” She named them Krazy Kachka Kookies.
“The cookies have become a tradition at the event and the dancers look forward to the annual sugar fix,” Moroz said. “I still switch to the gingerbread recipe at Christmas but use the sugar cookie recipe the rest of the year.”
Marcia and her son made their own cookie cutters by bending metal strips and into the shape of dancers.
“If people don’t have access to a metal supply they could buy a cookie cutter that is similar to what they want and use needle-nose pliers to bend it into the desired shape,” said Moroz.
A favourite gingerbread or sugar cookie recipe can be used to make the cookies, which are decorated with frosting and sprinkles. Or the following basic gingerbread cookie recipe can be used.
Basic Gingerbread Cookies
Makes approximately 5-6 dozen
250 mL (1 cup unsalted butter), softened
125 mL (1/2 cup) brown sugar, packed
75 mL (1/3 cup) molasses
150 mL (2/3 cup) light corn syrup
1 L (4 cups) sifted flour
7 mL (1 1/2 tsp) ground cinnamon
2 mL (1 /2 tsp) ground ginger
5 mL (1 tsp) salt
5 mL (1 tsp) baking soda
2 mL (1/2 tsp) ground cloves
Heat oven to 180º C (350º F). Using a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and corn syrup until well combined. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the remaining ingredients; mix together.
Turn dough onto a clean surface and knead 5 to 6 times to blend in the flour. Divide dough in half. Form into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for approximately10 to 20 minutes or overnight. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to less than 2 mm (1/8-inch) thick. Cut with floured cutters. Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes until a dark brown colour. Be careful not to under-bake. Decorate with royal frosting (recipe below).
500 mL (2 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
25 mL (2 tbsp) meringue powder*
40 mL (3 tbsp) warm water
*Meringue powder is available at bulk or cake-decorating supply stores.