Bajadera

When my husband and I were first dating, we found it hilarious that he (Serbian) and I (Polish descent) had grown up eating so many of the same foods - galumpki/sarma, poppyseed sweet bread, matzo ball soup.. But there’s one food he had that I wish I had grown up eating and am glad he introduced me to - Bajadera.

Pronounced “bye-ah-dare-uh”, it’s a mix of dark chocolate layers, buttery nutty nougat, and a dark chocolate ganache on top. There’s not that much sugar in this recipe, so each piece is a deep, rich chocolaty taste that can make you stop and just say “mmmm”.

We usually save it for holidays like Christmas, New Year’s and birthdays, but you can make it whenever you damn well please.

I first learned how to make it when we were talking about Christmas foods, and I asked him what was something that he really loved and missed having. He found a Youtube video of a Yugoslav lady cooking the layers, weighing them out into plastic bags, rolling out each layer, cutting the bags carefully open, and then flipping them one onto the other like a book. Even though she made it look easy I knew I was in over my head. Still - I gave it a go. It was nowhere as effortless as hers, but it tasted divine.

Honestly I couldn’t even hardly take a picture of the finished picture without someone trying to grab one off the plate.

Lately I tried a new method that involves much less cutting and throwing out plastic bags, is quicker, and honestly no one minds the messy edges that get cut off - that just means more scraps to eat sooner.

  1. Cook the 2 types of layers over the stove and let cool.

  2. Roll out using plastic wrap into approximately the same size.

  3. Stack and let chill.

Once you’ve made them, we usually keep them in the freezer. We find it helps keep them fresh and also out of direct sight.

Bajadera Sassi Kitchen

Since this is a Serbian recipe, we use Lane (or we call them “Plazma” biscuits). You can get them online at Parthenon Foods and on Amazon, or in any Eastern European store. If you can’t find them don’t worry - just substitute Nabisco vanilla wafers or good ol’ fashioned graham crackers.

Bajadera Sassi Kitchen
Bajadera Sassi Kitchen
Bajadera Sassi Kitchen
Bajadera Sassi Kitchen

Once the doughs are cooled, you’ll divide each pot into 2 so that you have 4 layers total (not counting the ganache).

I tried rolling on the inside of a baking tray first so that the edges would stay the same, but realized it was easier to roll it on the flat side.

The tricky part is lining up 2 layers and flipping it onto the previous layer. Just remember:

  1. Trust in the power (and amount) of butter. It’ll hold to the cling wrap.

  2. Worst case scenario is you mush them together and eat them like that. Still delicious.

If I have some spots where dough is missing, I very often take some from one corner where it’s overlapping and squish it on, placing some plastic wrap between the dough and my rolling pin so it doesn’t stick.

When you’ve got all the layers stacked on, put your cookie sheet in the freezer to chill. This time of year, I sometimes just stick it outside.

Make your ganache but make sure to cook it at a low heat, you don’t want the chocolate to burn. I used an offset spatula to spread it on, but you can use any old spatula or even a butter knife.

Put back in the freezer to chill, and then cut any way you’d like and serve.

Like I said - you won’t be able to keep little (or big) hands off them.

Bajadera Sassi Kitchen

Bajadera

Light-colored layer:

1/2 c. milk

2/3 c. sugar

3 1/2 T. butter

1 1/2 c. ground nuts

2 1/8 c. ground Plazma biscuits

Dark-colored layer:

1/2 c. milk

2/3 c. sugar

5 1/3 T. butter

1 1/2 c. ground nuts

4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

2 c. ground Plazma biscuits

Chocolate ganache:

4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

1 T. sugar

3 1/2 T. butter

1 T. water

For the light colored layer, place the milk, sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the ground nuts and biscuits. Place back over low heat, stirring with your spatula until you can see that the dough is coming together, sticking to itself rather than the pan.

For the dark colored layer, place the milk, sugar and butter in a second saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, chocolate and Plazma biscuits. Place back over low heat and stir until the dough comes together.

Let both saucepans cool, either in the fridge or in the frosty outdoors.

When the dough has cooled, divide each dough in 2.

Starting with the dark-colored dough, place the first half of dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and roll out in a rectangle to a 1/4 inch thickness.

Grease a 2nd baking sheet or put down parchment paper or wax paper. Slide your layer of dough over to the edges of the greased baking sheet and remove the top layer of plastic. Holding the outermost edges, flip it like a book onto the baking sheet.

Roll out 1/2 of the light colored dough in the same way. Line it up with your dark chocolate layer, and flip like a book.

When in doubt, refer to the Youtube video I mentioned as a visual guide ;)

For the ganache, place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook on low heat just until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined. Spread over the bajadera layers and place bake in the freezer to chill.

Cut and serve.

Enjoy!