Poland, for those who don't know, is 99% Catholic. What that means is that Christmas is serious business. It's celebrated like nowhere else I've lived. It's all about family and sharing the event of the birth of Christ. For children, it's still about presents but for adults, well...they spend their holiday drinking, eating, and napping.
Christmas in Poland begins on the 24th at the sighting of the first evening star. Families head to church for mass and then return home to eat and open presents. It can turn out to be an all night affair. It was during this all night affair that I first tasted Moczka.
The area where I lived was called Silesia. It's in the southwestern part of Poland, near the Czech border. It's known for coal and salt mines and German architecture influences and a dialect called Slask (which no one else in Poland can understand). It is also known for Moczka. Pronounced Moch-ka, this is actually a sweet dessert soup. Yes, soup. It's unbelievably good and good for you. Actually, it can be TOO good for you if you eat too much of it. You'll see why when you read the recipe.
Zofia and I spent a few wintery afternoons together talking about
life in Poland during Communism. Her husband, Zieslaw, worked in the
train-yard and lost a finger on the job. When her three children were
young, Zofia would have all of them stand in line with her so that the
family could get more bread at one time. She told me that they used
Russian newspapers as toilet paper because the newsprint didn't come off
as easily as the Polish newspapers. She was funny, and feisty, and a
fierce protector of her family. She gave me this recipe and I made it
the first Christmas I returned home from Poland.
Zofia's Moczka Recipe
- 1lb. loaf of Gingerbread
- 2 and a half 12oz bottles, or 1 liter of caramel beer or ale.
- 14oz pitted prunes,
- 7oz raisins
- 5oz chopped blanched almonds
- 8oz of figs
- 8oz walnuts
- 8oz of dates
- 1 jar of plum compote
- 1 bar of dark chocolate
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- Sugar to taste (Vanilla Sugar if available.)
Optional additions: Pinch of ground clove, 5oz of dried cherries, 5oz hazelnuts
How to prepare:
The gingerbread should be dried out a bit. Grate it and add it to a pot with 1 liter of caramel beer or ale. Leave it to sit overnight. Chop plums, figs, and dates finely. Pour boiling water over raisins in Pyrex or mixing bowl and leave to swell, then drain. Grind nuts in a mortar or pulse in food processor. Mix all dried fruit together, put in pot and cover with water and cook until tender, stirring constantly.
Once tender, combine gingerbread mix with cooked fruit mixture in one pot and add a jar of plum compote. (Think plum jam or plum preserves.) Grate the chocolate and add it to the soup. Sweeten with sugar to taste.
Dissolve butter in a pan and add flour to make a roux. Add to Moczka and mix together.
Can be served warm or cold.