Christmas baking is all about flavors and fragrances. These recipes often contain spices, nuts or dry fruit, citrus zest to intensify the aroma and, most importantly, butter. Every country has its own typical set of cookies and their recipes vary from one country to another. In the following lines, you will discover the best cookie recipes from different parts of Europe.
Vanilla Crescents (typical in Austria, Czech Republic)
- 340 g of cold unsalted butter
- 100 g icing sugar
- 420 g fine flour
- 160 g grounded walnuts (or hazelnuts)
- vanilla sugar or icing sugar with vanilla to cover
All the ingredients are mixed together into a firm dough that needs to be kept in the fridge for several hours, ideally overnight. After spending a few hours in the fridge, the dough is divided into small balls, which must be molded into small half-moon shapes. Bake them at 160°C for about 12 – 15min. The warm pieces of heaven can be coated with vanilla sugar.
Weihnachtsstollen (Germany, alternative to it exist in other countries also)
- 4 1/3 cups flour
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2.5 ozs. yeast
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. butter
- 3/4 cup sugar or honey
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup candied lemon peel
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1 lemon, grated for rind
- 1 3/4 cups raisins
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup Confectioner’s sugar
First and foremost, make a soft batter using warm milk with salt, sugar and yeast. Cover it with a tea towel and leave it in a warm place so that it can rest and raise, then add flour, butter and spices. Prepare a soft dough and leave it again to raise in a warm place. Shape the dough into stollen and bake them at 350-400°F for 50 – 60 min. They should have a nice golden color when they’re ready. Brush them with melted butter and dust them with Confectioner’s sugar. Repeat the process because if there is one thing that we should know about Stollen, this is it –these cookies should have a thick, white layer of Confectioner’s sugar.
Spicy speculaas with a unique taste of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg,ginger, cardamom, anise, and white pepper (Alternative of Gingerbreads can be seen also in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic)
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- Confectioners’ sugar, for surface
Mix all the ingredients together until you have a soft dough. Allow it to rest in the fridge for about one hour, then roll out the dough. It should be about 5 mm thick. Press the mold firmly onto the dough, flip over, and gently roll over the dough with a rolling pin. Flip over, and press onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat, but keep in mind that the spacing between the cookies should be of about 1 inch. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Place 1 batch of cookies in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 250 °F. Cookies must be baked for 55 to 65 minutes, until they have a golden color around the edges. Let them cool on sheets on wire racks.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, or almonds)
- Powdered sugar for rolling
Mix butter, sugar, vanilla in mixer, then add flour to reach dough consistency. Add nuts. Make small balls and place them on the baking sheet. Bake cookies in the preheated oven at 375 °F for about 7 – 8 min. When they are baked and slightly cooled, coat them with sugar. You can repeat the process after the cookies are completely cool.
Salted Caramel Cookies
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1 large egg, yolk and white separated
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp buttermilk
- 1 1/4 cups finely chopped pecans
- 15 caramels
- 2 1/2 Tbsp heavy cream
- Flaky or coarse sea salt
Mix flour, cocoa powder and salt, then set the mixture aside. Whip butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a bowl until fluffy. Separate egg yolks from whites. Mix yolks with vanilla and mix it with buttermilk. Then slowly add the dry ingredients until you have a firm dough. Cool the dough in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. When chilled and firm, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Whisk egg whites. Chop the pecans finely and place them into a ball. Shape the dough into small balls, drop them into egg white and coat them in nuts. Then put them on a baking sheet. Bake them for about 10 – 12 minutes. After they have chilled, prepare the caramel. You can simply heat the caramels and mix with cream or prepare it from scratch. Add a spoon of caramel in the middle of each ball and sprinkle with salt.
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