by | Dec 21, 2013 | Desserts

Szaloncukor is a traditional Hungarian Christmas candy, a real Hungarikum, which means that this candy is special, unique and only characteristic of Hungary. It was originally made of fondant and covered with chocolate. It’s wrapped in shiny coloured foil, then hung on the Christmas tree as decoration by using strings or small metal hooks. The candy‘s name comes from the German Salonzuckerl and its literal translation in English is parlour candy because the Christmas tree usually stood in the parlour.

The French started to make the ancestor of this fondant dessert in the 14th century. Its recipe was spread in Hungary when German craftsmen migrated there in the 19th century. German wealthy families erected Christmas Tree in the entrance hall of their homes and decorated it with sweets wrapped in shiny paper. The whole manufacturing procedure was manual until the first fondant-machines appeared at the end of the 19th centrury. These steam powered machines worked in the chocolate factory of Frigyes Stühmer and produced the popular candies for Café Gerbeaud. The last part of the procedure to be mechanized was trimming the end of the papercover with fringes.

Store-bought szaloncukor – photo:

The most famous pastry shops produced a large amount of candies before the holidays, using 25 to 30 kg of chocolate per day. Forms were dipped into sifted rice flour and liquid fondant was poured in these cavities. When the fondant set and dried, candies were packed in tin foils. At this time paper mills provided a wide range of tin foils, nearly 1000 varities were available. Of course, there were people who couldn’t afford to buy szaloncukor in the confectionaries, so many of them prepared it at home.

Mass production of these candies begun at the turn of the century. The industrial products didn’t win the housewifes’ approval at the beginning, however, the graded improvement of quality, appealing packing, large selection and lower prices quickly convinced the customers. Confectionaries made only special hand-made candies.

Store-bought szaloncukor – photo:

Between the First and Second World War the production of industrial fondant candy significantly reduced as poverty was widespread. This period forced families to make the Christmas tree decorations on their own. In the ’50s mass production gained ground again. Now there is a wide variety of different kinds of candies, including jelly, coconut, hazelnut, and lots of other flavors that meet the requirements of each class of society.


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Hungarian cottage cheese

This is what Hungarian túró looks like

You often ask me what kind of cottage cheese (or curd cheese or farmer's cheese - call it what you want) I use in the recipes. In Hungary the store-bought cottage cheese is dry and crumbly as you can see in the picture. So if a recipe calls for túró, I mean this type. If you can't obtain túró, you can try to make your own from whole milk. Click on the link below.

Metric system vs cup

In Hungary metric units are in use, all the recipes on this website are based on this system, so a kitchen scale is necessary. Since I’m not familiar with cup as a measurement unit, I convert grams to cups by using an online converter. The values in brackets, therefore, are only approximate volumes, so, please, double-check them before you start cooking.

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