Traditional “Mucenici Muntenesti”

Every year on March 9th, Holy Martyrs Day is celebrated by Christians around the world (more details here). Mucenici is a Christian feast for the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste (the lake where the Martyrs were condemned to death), and a traditional holiday in Romania and Moldova.

It also coincides with the start of the agricultural year.

Two varieties of mucenici can be prepared, depending on the region. For example, my grandmother lives in the northern part of the country and she prepares the Mucenici Moldovenesti, which are twisted breads shaped as number 8 and sprinkled with sugar and grated walnuts. The dough is sweet and it’s similar to that of cozonac (traditional sweet bread baked during the Christmas Holiday).

I was born in the southern part of the country, and my mom makes the local Mucenici Muntenesti. Those are the ones I am used to eating.

Last year I started making them at my house too and I enjoy making them just as much as eating them 🙂 They are one of those desserts that you can never have just one bowl full!

 

Mucenici Muntenesti

Ingredients:
– 4L  water
– 300g white sugar
– 1tsp salt
– 2tbsp vanilla extract
– 2tbsp cinnamon powder
– 300g plain or vanilla cracknels ** the tradition is to make these from scratch, in the shape of 8, but I’m not so good with that and to tell you the truth, I like my improvisation better. This time around I found available the plain taralli (Italian specific cracknels). The traditional ones are also available to be purchased frozen.  
– 200g grated walnuts or pecans
Note: some people, like my dad, like it more syrupy so he adds a bit more water

 

Directions:
– add the water to a pot (5-6L pot so there is space left for cracknels to be added and enough room to stir easily without making a mess)
– add the sugar, salt, vanilla extract and stir gently from time to time (the stove should be on medium heat)
as the water starts to heat up, but not boiling, add the cinnamon powder and keep stirring from time to time (the cinnamon powder tends to stick to the sides of the pot as the water gently boils – use the spatula to gently scrape it off)
– let the water boil for about 3-4 minutes and add the cracknels. Keep stirring and gently submerge them in the syrup
– turn the stove down a bit and cover the pot
– add the grated walnuts or pecans
– continue to stir and make sure all cracknels get soft and the grated nuts are evenly incorporated in the syrup
– after about 15 minutes turn off stove and move to the side. Leave the cover on and let the pot cool slowly

 

*** Mucenici can be served warm or cold. I prefer them cold

 

BON APPETIT!

 

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