One year I made cookies and sent them to people- I made them small so they’d be less likely to break in transit and you could try more. That was the last time I actually tracked how many I made. I made 14 gross, (14×144= ) but let’s admit it, they were small. On an average year I probably make about 25 kinds of cookies, and the batches average 2-6 dozen each so not counting peppernuts separately (which would be silly), I’m guessing I average 100 dz cookies during each holiday season, plus cakes and candy.
It’s OK, it takes me several days of cooking to do this (the theory is one per day, but that’s not how I do it.) I usually start early in December by taking all these recipes, taping a copy of one each to about 6 bowls, and run along them putting the right amount of butter in each bowl, then sugar in each, (cream them), then add the eggs, and other ingredients the same way- across the bowls. (Cookie dough is very forgiving, bless it!).
Also, you have to remember that in the old days when you ground your spices by hand, often these recipes would be started in November. The dough would intentionally be left to sit for several weeks to allow the flavor of the spices to dissipate throughout the flour, butter and sugar or honey. Honey makes these cookies last a LONG time. I’ve served nice soft lebkuchen at Pennsic that I made the previous yule season.
As each dough is done, I put it in a ball (or log), wrap it in plastic, transfer the printed recipe to that package (so I know which it is), and put it in the pantry to chill. Then I’m able to grab one prepared dough per evening, and make a batch of cookies per night. Or several if I’ve gotten behind which happens more often than I’d like. But I REALLY enjoy cooking so I’m apt to get excited by one recipe and want to do another at the same time.
The finished cookies go out into the back hall where most of the winter the temperature is between 32º and 40º, and there they stay, so I can put together a tray with an assortment at any time.
Each year I go through my recipes and the family each picks out the ones we REALLY, REALLY like and don’t want to skip. I make a file and print out those. I’ve included many of our favorite recipes below.
A word about my recipes- I made them for me, and they are rather medieval in style- lists of ingredients, not much instruction because I just need reminding which I’m working on at the moment. I’ve added a bit more to these. If there’s a cookie you’ve had here you’d like me to share the recipe for- please just ask.
Generally speaking the columns show two stages, first the sugar and butter and eggs, the second the flower and other dry ingredients. In most cookies one cremes the butter into the sugar- a kitchenaide is a real help with this! When that’s fluffy, beat in the eggs and any other wet ingredients. I usually put any leavening or spices in the bowl with the flour, give it a quick stir, add that, mix everything and put it off to rest. (Resting and chilling really helps.) For shortbread type cookies you can rub the flour and sugar right into the butter. A few others need special directions, but if there are no directions. I hope this will suffice.
The advantage of these is that you don’t store them for
weeks to wait for the flavor to develop, it is extracted by
boiling the spice to make the syrup. I do often put a couple of the star anise into the jar to make it prettier.
make syrup: 2 cups water and
5 heaping tsp star anise -boil 15 minutes
2 cups brown sugar – boil 10 more minutes
1 tsp vanilla
cut together: 6 cups flour
2 tsp soda
1 cup butter
roll into ropes, chill in freezer, cut, bake. I find it hard to make less syrup
time: 6-7 min temp.: 375º yield: 1/2 gallon
2 c sugar 1 c flour
3/4 c butter 3/4 c cocoa powder
4 eggs pinch salt
1 tsp peppemint (broken candy canes)
time: ~30 min temp: 350 º yeild: 9×13 pan
Here are pictures of some I couldn’t find separately: Russian Balls, a lone Lucia bun, Mint Trees, Lokis in the back, and Anise Peppernuts in the bowl, on the top tray, and Candycane cookies and Cinnamon horns on the bottom. I think that’s lebkuchen in the back.
These need to be made early and often, some sent to uncle Charley. I make them half the size mother did (it reduces breakage) and she used to crush candy canes and sprinkle them over the top.
1 cup powdered sugar 2 1/2 c. flour
1 cup butter pinch salt
1 egg food coloring (I prefer powder or paste)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp peppermint extract/ 1/2 tsp. peppermint oil/ 4 tsp. creme de menthe
optional- crushed candy canes
Mix the wets and ad the flour, divide in two and tint the smaller one with red food coloring. If you use liquid food coloring add enough flour to the red portion to bring it back to the same hardness as the white. When you start twisting them together, they need to match. Chill. I divide each ball in quarters, form those into balls and quarter those, and ball those. then I roll each ball into a rope and twist a red and white together. (If they’re not the same firmness, the softer one will tend to wrap itself around the harder one.) I roll this a bit, and form into a cane. You can sprinkle them with crushed candy canes before baking. It’s a great way to use up the broken ones from the year before- store them in a jar over summer (don’t lose track of where you stuck it!), and crush them in a strong paper bag with a hammer- it’s fun. I don’t use it because I prefer the texture of the shortbread alone.
time: 8-10 min temp.: 375 yield: 32 3″, 16 6″
CHOCOLATE BUTTER COOKIES
1/2 c sugar 1 1/2 c flour
3/4 c butter 1/4 c cocoa powder
1 egg yolk
1 tsp almond extract
Form into balls or bars, or roll and cut. Bake on ungreased sheets (I like parchment paper). Dust with powdered
sugar, or form into logs and drizzle with chocolate, or nuts.
temp: 375 time: 7-9 min yield: 3 dz
8 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
time: 12-15 min temp: 350 yield: 5 dz
MOTHERS KISSES /COCONUT MACAROONS
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 lg. bag shredded coconut
spoon onto greased sheets, decorate w/ half cherry (or craisin), bake, when
(alternately cool, dip in melted chocolate)
time: 10-12 min temp.: 300º yield: 2-3 dz
Melt ½ pound chocolate, warm peanuts (or almonds) and mix together- spoon out and cool in clusters. You can also melt chocolate and add other things: coconut, chopped nuts, orange peel. I’ve even heard of chocolate dipped bacon!
RABBIT EARS aka:
FATTIGMAN BAKKELS (Norwegian, KLENOR: Swedish, KLENJE: Danish, POLISH DONUTS)
The recipe I saw on TV in 1975 from Jim Haller of the Blue Strawberry restaurant always worked for me. Start oil or lard heating on the stove. Make a pile of flour on your counter, make a well in it and break a couple of eggs into it and start working them in, add a bit of powdered sugar (to taste), then enough cream to make it into a dough. When it’s all mixed, give it a couple of kneads, roll out and cut into strips. Cut the strips on a diagonal forming lozenge shapes. Cut a slit in the middle of each lozenge and pull the end through the hole. When the pile is done, (if you have spare hands, one can fry while the other forms). Fry them 3-5 at a time until golden. Sprinkle with powered sugar or cinnamon sugar. We’ve had these for Christmas breakfast every year since.
If you want amounts, I found this recipe:
1/3 c powdered sugar 1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 c whipping cream (1/2 tsp cardamom)
4 egg yolks (I use 2 whole eggs)
time: 1-2 minutes temp.: 365º yield: theoretically can be stored, but how do you keep them from being eaten?
FINNISH BUTTER COOKIES
I usually have to make about 4 batches of these. One of my friends made I think 8 batches one day because people kept eating them! Usually I just roll out ropes of dough the length of a cookie sheet, make a dent along it with a chopstick, bake it 20 minutes, then pour jam I’ve melted in a pyrex cup down the dent (which may need re-denting), and bake another 10 minutes. You can also roll them and cut rounds and make them into thumbprint cookies with jam (more work). In theory it’s a large enough recipe that you can divide it, put chopped nuts in one batch, jam on another, and leave another plain. The jam ones are favorites at our house. This year I used my three lobed cutter and put apricot, raspberry and blackberry or strawberry jam in each of three lobes. The kids called those Cloisoné cookies, and they are so pretty they are worth the effort.
5 sticks of butter
1 cup of sugar
5 cups of flour
raspberry fruit preserves
20 min plus 10 min at 350º
(the recipe is in St. Lucia Day)
GANESHA’S TREATS (shown in front of Kat above)
2 sticks butter 3 cups flour
2 cos sugar 1/2 tsp bk soda
2 eggs 3/4 tsp. cream tartar
1 tsp vanilla pinch saffron
mix and roll into balls roll balls in
cinnamon sugar for the holidays I use colored sugar.
bake 10 min, 375º 6 dz.
1 c sugar 6 c flour
1/2 butter 1 tsp baking soda
1 c molasses ~salt
2/3 c honey 2 tsp ginger
1 c buttermilk 1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg 1 tsp alspice
time: 8-10 min temp.: 350 yield: 18 men more with smaller cookie cutters
GREEN MAN NUT BALLS
1 c butter 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 c chopped pistachios
Mix, roll into 1 inch balls, bake. Decorate with:
icing: 1 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp grated lemon peel
Sprinkle wet icing with chopped pistachios
alt: melted chocolate sprinkled with chopped pistachios (“Because Chocolate.”)
time: 15-18 temp:350 yield: 4 1/2 dz (75 cal)
2/3 c sugar 1 3/4 c flour
1/2 c butter 1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs pinch cardamom (optional)
1 tbsp. thick batter on lightly buttered krumkake iron,
when they come off let them dry flat on a towel or roll into a cone on mold, fill with whipped cream.
time: 1 minute @ yield: 2-3 dz.
1 cup whipping cream for topping sweetened w/ powdered sugar
LINZER COOKIES I have occasionally made mini versions of many of our cookies, including these, for the Doll’s Christmas party.
1 c sugar 2 1/2 c flour
1 c butter 1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg 1/2 TSP. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix, chill, roll out thinly, cut rounds (or stars or whatever). Cut a round hole in the center of half of these. Place non-pierced cookies on greased cookie sheets. Bake. spread jam between matched cookies, and sprinkle w/ powdered sugar.
time: 8-10 min. temp. 350º yield: 3 dz.
LISA’S CINNAMON HORNS
1/2 cup. butter 2 cup. flour
1 egg yolk
3/4 c sour cream
Mix. Form two balls, chill, roll out, cut each into 12 wedges each.
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, roll up, bake.
temp: 350º time: 30 min yield: 24
LOKI’S (pictured at the top on wooden tray, center row 3rd from left)
3/4 cup brown sugar 2 cup flour
3/4 cup butter 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg 1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
Add 2 tsp. fresh minced ginger. Make log, roll in red sugar on waxed paper, use that to roll it up. Freeze the log. Chill, slice thinly, put a cinnamon drop or a piece of candied ginger in the center of each slice, bake.
time:12-15 minutes temp: 350 degrees yield: 6 dozen
MALTED MILK STAGS
2 cups sugar 4 1/2 cups flour
1 cup butter 2 tsp. baking pdr.
1/3 cup sour cream ½ tsp. baking soda
2 eggs pinch salt
2 tsp. vanilla
10 min @ 375º ¼” thick 5 dz.
1/2 c sugar 1 1/4 c ground almonds
9 oz butter 2 cups flour
2 eggs 1/2 grated lemon rind
roll 1/8 inch, cut with 1 1/4 inch stars, hearts, crescents
brush with egg yolk glaze and sprinkle with sugar before baking
time: 10-12 temp.: 350 yield: 1/2 gallon
MINT TREES (pictured at the top on wooden tray, bottom row on left)
1 c powdered sugar 2 1/4 c flour
3/4 c butter 1/2 tsp. baking soda
8 oz. cream cheese 1/2 tsp. mint extract
green food coloring
Roll the dough VERY thin, cut into trees. Watch carefully because they brown very easily. Spread melted chocolate on back of half and sandwich. (you don’t have to sandwich them, once the chocolate is set, the can be stacked. You can decorate with nonpariels or drizzle with melted dark and/or white chocolate, keep it melted by sitting the cup in a bowl of warm water.
time: ~6 min. temp.: 325º yield: 3 dz.
(pictured at the top on wooden tray, bottom row 2nd from left)
2 c honey 5 c flour
1 1/2 c brown sugar 1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp cardamom
2 eggs 1 tsp cloves
2 tbsp lemon juice 1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp lemon peel 1 tsp salt
1 c ground almonds 1 tsp soda
Mix, cure several days, if chilled enough you can roll and cut. If not, make balls with hands dipped in water to keep it from sticking. Traditionally baked on backoblaten ((thin sheets, I cut some from filo), I have found parchment paper also works fine. Decorate before cooking with almond slices and cherry in center, glaze with sugar glaze.
time: 10-12 min temp.: 375º yield: 40 store at least 3 wks, (will last a year in tin or jar)
RUSSIAN BALLS (pictured at the top on wooden tray, bottom row 2nd from right)
These we traditionally made for Thanksgiving, and we generally still have some around. If not, I can always make another batch. I made these for the cooking contest for the Masked Ball in AS 8 and won the prize- a whisk, with a red ribbon from the queen’s own hand. I don’t think I took the ribbon off except to wash it for decades. I was an “evil child”. In college I’d bring the plate around to the young men and ask sweetly “Want a ball?”
1 c powdered sugar 4 1/2 c flour
2 c butter 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla 1 c chopped walnuts
roll in powdered sugar when hot from oven
time: 7 min temp.: 350 yield: 1 gross
Left is my new mold with snowflakes. I have never had much luck with shortbread molds. A good shortbread is very delicate, and they tend to fall apart when I’m trying to get them out. This more colorful version is another mold- I’d filled the patterns in with colored sugar before pressing in the dough.
1/4 c superfine sugar 1 c flour
1/2 c butter 1/2 c rice flour
Bake in mold, or pat into a circle, prick with fork, and slice in wedges. (“pettycoat tails”)
time: 40-45 minutes temp.: 325 yield: 1
2 c sugar 4 c cake flour (3 ¾ AP)
1/4 tsp bk powder or 1/2 tsp bakers ammonia
1/4 tsp anise extract or 4 drops oil of anise
These are great for showing off hand made or heirloom molds. Mix, chill the dough a LOT, (dip your fingers in water to reduce sticking- but it will still stick). Dust molds with cornstarch, press dough in mold, cut out as molds require. Lay flat side down on anise seed covered cookie sheets. Let them sit overnight- this dries the top and preserves the design. Bake. The only direction the dough can expand is downward- this will make the classic “foot” on the cookie. Do not let brown. Designs can be left white or decorated with gold petal dust or food coloring.
time: 15 min temp.: 375 yield: 6 dz age 2-3 weeks
1/2 c butter 2 1/2 c flour
1/2 c sugar 1 tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten 1 tsp baking soda
1 c sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
Mix, knead well, Roll, cut, fill with 1 tbsp apple or Mohn
filling, pinch up form into little “3 cornered hats” and bake.
time: 20 min temp: 375 yield:
1 1/2 c sugar 3 1/4 c flour
1 cup butter 1 tsp soda
1 egg 1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp molasses 3/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp grated peel 1/4 tsp nutmeg
chill, roll 1/8 inch, cut into stars, decorate
time: 8 min temp.: 375 yield:~100
1 cup sugar 4 cups flour
3/4 c. oil 6 tsps baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, large
1 1/2 tablespoons anise or lemon extract (I split the dough and make half each, then used the two styles of decoration so people could tell easily which was which.)
1 tsp extract (and drip in hot water as needed) to
1 cup confectioners sugar to make icing smooth.
yield: ~4 dz cookies
Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the oil milk anise and eggs Mix together with a wooden spoon. With oiled hands roll into 1″ balls and slightly flatten top. Bake at 375º for 8 minutes. Dip cookies into icing while still warm. Decorate with sprinkles. Buon Natale!
Top row: Danzig Peppercakes between Basiler Lekerlie(dipped in chocolate and frosted), Mint Brownies, Chocolate peanut clusters, almond toffee, rum balls, spumoni cookies, lemon angeletti
Middle: Thor’s peppernuts, Ganesha’s treats, Lokis, Linzer cookies, spritz, anise angeletti, tiny sugar stars, Gingerbread men
Bottom row: Mint trees, Nurnberg lebkuchen, finish butter cookies,spritz, wishing stars, candy cane cookies, Russian Balls and Dagda’s Clubs.
(not shown, they’re either not made yet, or already gone: Chocolate butter cookies, Cinnamon horns, gnomes, krumkakes, fattigman bakkels, Black Magic Cake, Lucia buns and other Christmas breads.