Hungarian vintage cookies part 2: Pilot biscuits
As you might remember, a few weeks ago I already wrote a post about Győri Keksz, the Hungarian cookie factory. I thought the series should be continued with another emblematic product of the company. Generations have grown up enjoying pilot biscuits, that could also be called as the Hungarian oreo: a cookie sandwich made of yellow and brown disks filled with nougat cream that everyone likes.
The story of pilot biscuits began in 1960. József Telekesi was the factory’s production manager and he initiated to broaden the product range with a new item. He was likely to take the idea from the survival kit of the fighter and bomber pilots who went into battles during the World War II. The survival kit contained crackers and chocolate, which were presumably the source of inspiration.
During the first few years the product was made with a cocoa biscuit and a sponge cake disk, but the size of the sponge cake disk always varied, which was not tolerated by the packaging machines, for this reason sponge cake was replaced with linzer cookie. Pilot biscuits have been produced continuously since 1960, there were changes only in the packaging.
These cookie sandwiches can be reproduced easily at home. You need to make first a pale and a cocoa flavoured linzer dough for the cookies, then a nougat cream that calls for hazelnuts and dark chocolate. In this case the chocolate’s high cocoa butter content is more important than the high percentage of cocoa because using chocolate rich in cocoa butter in the nougat results in a better, creamy texture.
For the dough:
- 300 g (~2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 200 g (~1 cup) butter
- 100 g (~3/4 cup) powdered sugar
- 25 g (~3,5 tbsp) cocoa powder
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 100 g (~2/3 cup) hazelnuts
- 100 g (~3/4 cup) powdered sugar
- 2 tsp corn starch
- 100 g (~3,5 oz) dark chocolate, rich in cocoa butter
Mix flour with powdered sugar and salt. Add diced butter and egg, and knead until butter is fully incorporated and dough becomes smooth.
Divide dough into two equal portions. Add cocoa powder to one portion and knead to mix well. Wrap the dough balls in cling films and chill for an hour.
In a dry pan toast hazelnuts, then let them cool. Grind them with their skin on in a nut mill thoroughly to a fine consistency. (If you prefer to remove hazelnut skin, after toasting wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and rub them to remove loose skins, then cool completely.)
Mix powdered sugar and corn starch into ground hazelnuts.
Melt dark chocolate either in the microwave oven or over a pot of simmering water.
Mix sweetend hazelnuts into the melted chocolate until nougat mass is mouldable and pliant.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F, and line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a floured surface roll out the yellow dough until it’s 2 mm thin. Cut out the cookies with a 5 cm (2 inch) circle cookie cutter. Reroll scraps and cut out more cookies. Repeat the process with the brown dough ball, as well.
Place cookies on the prepared sheets, slide into the oven and bake for 7-8 minutes. (Don’t bake them longer as they can burn easily.) Let them cool on wire rack.
To glue cookies, form tiny balls from the nougat mass, flatten and place them onto the light colored cookies. Put brown cookies onto the filling and gently press together.