Walnut Snails Recipe Inspired by a Famous German Pastry
How the Walnut Snails Recipe Made It to Mom’s Recipe Book
Mom’s walnut snails recipe is an adaptation of the Nussschnecken desert which is basically a sweet bun of Saxon origins, filled with nuts and cinnamon. Schnecken is the German word for snails, which suggests the unique shape of this finger-licking delicious walnut filled treats.
Given Transylvania’s Saxon heritage, our cooking and especially baking have seen a tremendous German influence over the centuries.
When I was a child, mom’s best friend was a German lady who used to bake weekly. She would always invite us to keep her company while she was dancing between the island in her massive kitchen and the oven, mixing ingredients and filling tray after tray. She was not dancing-dancing, but the elegant way she moved, her precision and amazing skills made it look like dancing in my awe-filled eyes.
Of course, the good lady always shared her recipes and many baking secrets with mom, who later shared everything she’d learnt with her kids – my sister and I.
Essentially, my mom had learned how to bake from Frau Francu – that was the lady’s name. Mom filled her first recipe book with mostly German recipes during that time, such as this delicious apple cake, one of my favourite desserts for special occasions.
I used to sneak into Frau Francu’s large kitchen and count the seconds until the first batch of whatever cake she was baking would come out of the oven.
Because I was born without patience, I could never wait for the cakes to cool properly. I would always pinch at least one and run outside to cool it in the wind (lame excuse, I know!)
I fondly remember how Frau Francu would bake four or five different and complex cakes in half a day every Saturday. She would always giggle as I was sneaking in to pinch samples from her trays. The lovely lady had no children and loved to see me around, as impish as I was.
If I regret one thing from those good old times is that whenever Frau Francu wanted to teach me German, I would bolt out the door pretending that I needed to play in her vast garden.
I regretted that the minute the Romanian Revolution of 1989 changed our contemporary history and freed our country of communism. I was very young, still a teenager, but I would have had a chance to move to Germany a few years later and radically change my life.
Now, a few decades on, the only thing that is still preventing me from doing just that is again the fact that I can’t speak German. Although I am fluent in five other languages, I’ve lost the train to learn what should have been the most important foreign language to me.
Ironically, now I have the liberty to choose where I want to live, but the language barrier still makes the choice difficult. Ugh, one day …
Mom’s Walnut Snails Recipe – Ingredients
The adaptation mom made of Nussschnecken means that instead of getting the giant, fluffy snails the size of a dessert plate, she would make them smaller and would not smother them in sticky sirup, so we could eat them the same way we’d eat biscuits.
I would always bake these treats around the festive winter season or at Easter time and all family anniversaries. We can never have enough of it!
Ingredients for the dough
400 g flour (I always use white organic)
100 ml melted organic butter
100 ml melted organic coconut oil
2 organic egg yolks (you will use the whites later, for the filling)
80 g organic coconut sugar (about 6-8 tbsp)
5 g dried yeast (1 tsp)
½ tsp ammonium bicarbonate
3-4 tbsp tepid unsweetened almond milk (to activate the ammonium bicarbonate)
Organic orange zest
A pinch of salt
Ingredients for the filling
150 g ground walnuts
2 tbsp organic cacao powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 egg whites + a pinch of salt
Rum oil essence
The dried yeast requires a warm temperature and time to activate. For this recipe, use the lukewarm milk to activate the ammonium bicarbonate first, then pour it over the yeast mixed with sugar and one tbsp of the flour quantity. Cover with a dry towel and leave aside for about 20 minutes. When the time is up, you will observe that the yeast had dissolved and the pre-dough had increased in volume.
Secondly, any dough that uses melted oils needs refrigeration to solidify the oil molecules and make it easier to roll the dough. When your dough is ready, cover it in cling film, press it down to allow a quicker and thorough cooling and place it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, you can prepare the filling.
As the title suggests, this recipe includes allergens.
Mom’s Walnut Snails Recipe
- Large bowl/small bowl
- Baking tray
- Parchment paper
- Roller pin
- Hand held electric mixer
For the dough
- 400 g organic white flour
- 100 ml melted butter (cooled a bit)
- 100 ml melted organic coconut oil (cooled a bit)
- 2 pcs egg yolks (the whites needed for the filling)
- 80 g organic coconut sugar (approx. 6-8 tbsp)
- 5 g dried yeast (approx. 1 tsp)
- ½ tsp ammonium bicarbonate
- 4-5 tbsp tepid almond milk (unsweetened)
- 1 pcs orange zest
- A pinch of rock/sea salt
For the filling
- 150 g ground walnuts
- 5-6 tbsp organic coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp organic cacao powder
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 pcs egg whites (beaten stiff)
- A pinch of salt (for the egg whites)
- 1 vial rum oil essence (or 2 tsp rum)
Prepare the dough
- In a bowl, use the lukewarm milk to activate the ammonium bicarbonate first, then pour it over the yeast mixed with sugar and one tbsp of the flour quantity.
- Cover with a dry towel and allow the yeast to activate for about 20 minutes.
- Add the tepid butter and coconut oil, egg yolks, orange zest and salt and mix until all ingredients incorporate nicely.
- Add the sieved flour gradually and keep mixing using your hand.
- Cover the dough with a piece of cling film, press it down and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
- Divide the dough in two parts and roll each in a 2-3 mm thick sheet.
Prepare the filling
- While the dough is cooling, in a bowl mix the ground walnuts with sugar, cacao powder, cinnamon and rum.
- Separately, add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whip until stiff. Use a large bowl and start with a lower speed until the egg whites foam, then increase the speed to maximum and continue whipping until they become firm.
- Slowly incorporate the egg whites into the dry ingredients.
Prepare the snail shapes
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/356°F/Gas mark 4.
- Place parchment paper on the baking tray.
- Place half of the nut filling on the first dough sheet. Spread evenly, leaving about 2 cm filling-free at one edge.
- Roll the sheet and cut 1 cm thick slices.
- Transfer the slices onto the baking tray, leaving enough space in between them.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the dough turns golden brown.
- Allow the first batch to cool and repeat the baking process until all the walnut snails are ready.
- Optionally, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
I hope you enjoyed reading this recipe. If you would like to see more, please check the Savour the Flavour section of this website or follow my Pinterest recipe board. Have fun baking!