A Very Romanian Christmas

Viviana's Kitchen

Merry Christmas from my family to yours! Wishing you all a wonderful day full of love, laughter, mimosas, and delicious food.

Yesterday, I spent the vast majority of the day baking pastries for Christmas and I used my own website for a couple recipes. However, I noticed that I somehow never shared the recipe I use for Romanian cozonaci, which are sweet egg bread pastries filled with either poppyseed filling or a walnut and rum-soaked white raisin mixture.

They’re traditional in Romania for holidays like Christmas and Easter, but they’re not exclusive to the holidays.

Here is a link to the recipe I used, and for those of you too lazy to hop to another webpage, a break down below:

Romanian Cozonac

INGREDIENTS (for the dough)

1.5 cups lukewarm water
1.5 Tbsp granulated yeast
1.5 Tbsp salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1.5 cups (3 sticks) melted unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
7.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water)

DIRECTIONS (for the dough)

  • Mix yeast with a tablespoon of water, then mix with salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter with the 1.5 cups of water in a large bowl.
  • Mix in the flour but do not knead. I used a stand mixer here.
  • Once everything is incorporated, cover and let stand for 2 hours to grow.
  • After two hours, prep your work center with some flour (or oil) and knead the dough, then divide into 4.
  • Rollerpin it out into a large sheet and spread poppyseed filling or half of your walnut mixture, and then roll up and form into whichever shape you’re baking.
  • Bake dough in whatever form (loaf, brioche, cozonac) in the preheated oven at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes (until golden brown) with the rack in the middle position.

INGREDIENTS (for the walnut filling)

200 g walnuts, finely ground
100 g brown sugar
2 egg whites
3 Tbsp cacao
1/3 cup rum or brandy
1 cup white raisins to be plumped in the liquour

DIRECTIONS (for the walnut filling)

  • Plump raisins in rum for at least one hour – I do it over night to maximum flavor.
  • Beat egg whites to soft peaks
  • Add sugar, beat.
  • Add cocoa, beat.
  • Add walnuts and the rum-soaked raisins and mix.



Cocoa Almond Pumpkin Cheesecake

Viviana's Kitchen

I felt inspired to cook a little over a week ago and spent one of my days off making vegetarian enchiladas as well as today’s recipe: Cocoa Almond Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Of course, I found this recipe on the internet’s best recipes database, Foodgawker, and I made some tweaks, as usual. I didn’t have almond flour on hand, so I ground fresh almonds in my blender for the crust. I also added cardamom instead of nutmeg and ginger to the cheesecake part, as well as real cream cheese instead of making the vegan version.

Check out the original recipe by clicking here, and my version down below.


Cocoa Almond Pumpkin Cheesecake

– 2 cups almond flour OR ground almonds
– 3 tbsp cocoa powder
– 3 tbsp sweetener (coconut sugar)
– 1/4 tsp baking soda
– pinch of salt
– 4 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
– 1.5 cups pumpkin puree
– 1 cup cream cheese
– 1/4 cup sweetener (coconut sugar)
– 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
– 1.5 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 tsp cardamom powder

1. Preheat oven to 300F.
2. Combine dry ingredients for crust.
3. Add coconut oil and combine.
4. Press crust into 9 x 9 baking pan.
5. Bake 15 minutes.
6. Blend filling ingredients with an electric mixture, about 3-4 minutes.
7. Pour filling over cooled crust.
8. Refrigerate 3-4 hours, serve chilled.