Czech Christmas Cookies

Some of our favorite recipes from your Bridge editors!
Tip: Visit Expats.cz Food & Drink for great tips on Prague restaurants, Czech cuisine, and more

Written by IWAP Members
for Bridge Magazine

We have the Dutch to thank for the word “cookie” — it derives from “koekje,” meaning “little cake,” a reference to the possible origin of this irresistable treat as a small test sample for cake batter. The Chinese fortune cookie is said to have been invented by soldiers sending secret messages to foil the invading enemy as far back as the 12th century. Italians created biscotti for sailors to take with them on their worldwide voyages of discovery beginning in the 13th century, and accompanied Christopher Columbus on his journeys to the New World. But when it comes to Christmas cookies, our German neighbors rightfully stake their claim to fame.

 

Pre-Christmas holiday rituals found cookes preparing baked goods made of such tidbits as nuts, spices and dried fruits in the Middle Ages. With the celebration that became the basis of our western Christmas holiday traditions, Lebkuchen became the first traditional Christmas cookie. According to the following excerpt from McCall’s magazine:

 

“By the 1500’s, Christmas cookies had caught on all over Europe. German families baked up pans of Lebkuchen and butter Spritz cookies. Pappakakor (spicy ginger and black-pepper delights) were favorites in Sweden; the Norwegians made krumkake (thin lemon and cardamon-scented wafers). The earliest Christmas cookies in America came ashore with the Dutch in the early 1600’s…but it wasn’t until the 1930’s that whimsically shaped cutters made of tin became less expensive and more abundant — and the Christmas cookie boom began.”

 

Some of our favorite recipes, with happy holiday wishes from your Bridge editors!

 

German Honey Cookies

(200 cookies)

 

Combine:

3 oz. Each: citron, candied orange peel and candied lemon peel pieces

1 cup (225 g) chopped almonds

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

3 tablespoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon cloves

3 1/3 cups (800 g) confectioners sugar

Beat and add:

6 eggs

¼ (60 g) cup orange juice

Bring to boil and cool until lukewarm:

1 (1/2 liter) pint honey

2 tablespoons water

Stir into egg mixture with:

5 cups (1100 g) flour

1 tablespoon soda

Cover the dough and let it stand for at least 12 hours.

Heat oven to 350/175 degrees.

Drop batter from a teaspoon on greased baking sheet. Decorate with almonds. Bake until light brown. If you wish, you can decorate cooled cookies with a lemon glaze made of 1 ¼ cups confectioners sugar, ¼ cup lemon juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

 

Pfeffernu(umlaut)sse

(3 dozen cookies)

Preheat oven to 350/175 degrees

 

Cream together:

½  (115 g)cup flour

½ cup (115 g) sugar

2 eggs

Sift and add:

1 cup (225 g) flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon soda

½ teaspoon each: ground pepper, nutmeg, cloves, allspice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cardamon

1-3 drops oil of anise

¼ cup (60 g) ground almonds

1 ½ tablespoons grated lemon peel

¼ cup (60 g) chopped citron

 

Drop the dough from a teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Space cookies 5 cm apart. Bake 10-12 minutes.

 

Cinnamon Stars

(4 dozen cookies)

Preheat oven to 300/150 degrees

 

Whip 5 egg whites with 1/8 teaspoon salt

Gradually add 2 cups (450 g) confectioners sugar and whip well.

Add: 2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Whip constantly.

Fold 1 pound (450 g) ground almonds into half the mixture. (Hold second half for top glaze.)

Lightly dust a pastry board with confectioners sugar. Pat dough to 1/3 inch/1 cm  thickness. Dust palms with confectioners sugar while working with the dough. Cut the dough with star cutters. Glaze with the reserved half of the mixture. Bake on greased cookie sheet 20 minutes.

 

I am not a great cook, but just in case you need it, here is my recipe for making hazelnut cookies…

 

Ingredients:

dough

300g flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

140g sugar

2 packets vanilla sugar

a little salt

2 eggs

100g butter

 

topping:

200g butter

200g sugar

4 tablespoons water

200g ground hazelnuts

200g chopped hazelnuts

200g chocolate icing/frosting

 

Prepare the dough with the ingredients listed above, then set aside for 30 minutes to cool in the fridge. After this spread the dough evenly on a baking tray. – Heat up the butter, sugar, water and vanilla sugar in a pan, so that the ingredients melt and bring to the boil. Add the ground and chopped hazelnuts stir and set aside to cool. Afterwards spread the mass onto the dough and bake for 20 – 25 minutes at a temperature of about 200 – 220 degrees C. These times might need to be adjusted according to your oven. Straight after baking, cut the mass into medium size triangles and brush the edges with the chocolate frosting/icing.


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