Christmas Cookies

Instead of making the cookies I make every year, I decided to try different ones. I made four kinds, but by the time I was ready to start the fourth batch I decided to revert to a cookie I make every year. Some things are too good to change!

In the weeks leading up to Christmas I start to make lists of cookies I could make. At the top of the list are my favorites such as lemon hearts, Linzer cookies and coconut macaroons. Then I roam around the internet and my favorite blogs for ideas. And my lists get longer. This year I kicked off the season by making chocolate bark. I have always wanted to make chocolate bark and this year I did. I had so much fun choosing flavor combinations and giving the bark away. The first thing most people asked was: Did you make the chocolate yourself? The second was: Wow- this looks like it’s from Läderach!  But my favorite comment was: Can I order a kilo of chocolate from you? Thank you! I had so much fun making the bark and will definitely be doing it again. The response was so positive.

I made white chocolate with dried cranberries and salted pistachios, milk chocolate with ground coffee beans, milk chocolate with toffee bits, dark chocolate with candied ginger, dark chocolate with freeze-dried raspberries and cocoa nibs, dark chocolate with salted peanuts and dark chocolate with dried cherries and coconut flakes.

But then I needed to make a decision about the cookies. I set a limit to four cookies and they had to be ones I hadn’t made before. I ended picking Yotam Ottolenghi’s Spice Cookies from the Jerusalem cookbook, Tammy Inman’s Chocolate cherry cookies from Wintersweet and Signe Johansen’s Cardamom Almond Twists from Scandilicious Baking. The fourth cookies I chose were ones I’ve made over and over. They are the only ones my husband explicitly asks for: Lila Lindholm’s hazelnut cookies.

The cinnamon-almond twists were chosen because I remember eating them while we were in Sweden and Norway. Plus, I have a soft spot for cardamom, cinnamon and almonds. It might by my Swedish heritage…

The spice cookies were chosen because Jerusalem is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks and every recipe is absolutely delicious. I chose the chocolate cherry cookies because I wanted something with chocolate and the addition of cherries (or in my case cranberries) sounded like a good idea.

The hazelnut cookies have turned into a tradition at our house and are so easy to make. All you need is a bowl and a wooden spoon.

We had a few neighbors over for coffee and cookies and these all went down beautifully.

Maybe you’d like to make one of these?

Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas!

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Ottolenghi’s Spice Cookies (slightly adapted)

Note: I left out the currants but I’d certainly put them in next time! 

Cookies:
125 g currants
2 Tbs brandy
240 g all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp best-quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg
125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 g superfine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 large free-range egg

Glaze:
3 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
160 g confectioners’ sugar

1. Soak the currants in the brandy for 10 minutes. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.

2. Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, and lemon and orange zest to combine but don’t aerate much, about 1 minute. With the mixer or beater running, slowly add the egg and mix for about 1 minute. Add the dry ingredients, followed by the currants and brandy. Mix until everything comes together.

3. Gently knead the dough in the bowl with your hands until it is uniform. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and roll each piece into a perfectly round ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing them about 2 cm apart, and let rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, until the top firms up but the center is still soft. Remove from the oven. Once the cookies are out of the oven, allow to cool for only 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack.

5. While the cookies are still warm, whisk together the glaze ingredients until a thin and smooth icing forms. Pour a tablespoon of the glaze over each cookie, leaving it to drip. Leave to set and then serve, or store in an airtight container for a day or two.

 

Leila’s Hazelnut Cookies

  • 50 g butter, melted
  • 200 g ground hazelnuts
  • 80 g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • hazelnuts for garnish

Preheat the oven to 175°C and cover a baking sheet with baking paper. In a bowl mix the ground hazelnuts with the melted butter, the sugar and the egg. Make little balls and and place on the lined baking sheet. Gently press one hazelnut on top of each cookie.

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 18 minutes until golden. Makes about 18 cookies.

Store in an airtight jar.

Chocolate Cranberry Cookies (Tammy Inman)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together for one minute.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in the cranberries and chocolate until dispersed throughout the dough.
  6. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake at 375° F for 10 to 14 minutes. The edges will be set but the centers will be soft when done.

 

Signe Johansen’s Cinnamon-Almond Twists

For the dough:
325ml whole milk
50g butter
500g plain flour
75g caster sugar
1,5 tsp ground cardamom
2tsp fine sea salt
7g dried yeast (1 packet)
1 egg, beaten
Filling:
75g soft butter
50g ground almonds
50g marzipan
50g caster sugar
3tbsp créme fraiche
1tsp vanilla extract
pinch of fine sea salt
To finish:
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
To make the dough first scald the milk with the butter by heating it until almost boiling. Let it cool to lukewarm. Sift the dry ingredients together, add the beaten egg and the milk and knead until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake, let the dough come to room temperature and in the meantime make the almond filling. Mix all the filling ingredients in a food processor until creamy. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 30x50cm rectangle. Spread the filling evenly on one half length ways and fold the other half over pressing the edges down to seal in the filling. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into about 20 strips. Pick them up one at a time, twist the ends in opposite direction a few times times, make a round shape, tucking the ends under and placing them on a lined baking sheet. When all done, place them in a warm place to rest and rise for another 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C, glaze the twists with a beaten egg and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

2 Replies to “Christmas Cookies”

  1. Judy Miles says: Reply

    Juliana, I begged your dad to send me the link to your blog, and he just did…your photography is inspiring, and your cookies look delicious….I’m making the chocolate ones tomorrow! Your ideas for chocolate bark are going to come around, especially using ginger and cocoa nibs. Thank you! (Kathy’s friend) Judy

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Judy! It’s great to see you here.

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