Christmas Baking

Once Advent rolls around, I start thinking about Christmas and, of course, cookies. I think I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas baking. Baking the cookies I remember from my childhood is a tradition I don’t want to change. But sometimes I take the flavors and switch things around. Besides, if I made all the cookies I wanted to, I’d be up to my ears and we’d be eating them until Easter! But if I make cookies to give away as gifts, then I can go overboard keeping a few for myself so I can try them all!
I’d like to share a few of my favorite recipes, ones I have been making for years and some new favorites.

Lemon hearts: I remember making these with my mother as a little girl. We always made them for Christmas and to me they are the ultimate Christmas cookie.

Linzer cookies: There is nothing like biting into a hazelnut dough filled with spices and reaching the raspberry jam in the center. These have been on my baking list for a long time. I usually use this recipe, using hazelnuts instead of almonds.

Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti: one that recently made it on my favorites list! The anise in the recipe reminds me of the cialde (Italian anise wafers) my aunt makes every year for Christmas. The recipe I use is this one, omitting the dipping in white chocolate. The recipe is straightforward and very easy. The first couple of times I halved the recipe as not to have 3.5 dozen, but the next time I’d go for the full recipe. It doesn’t make nearly that many, unless I was doing something wrong!

Hazelnut balls: One bowl wonder and ready in a matter of minutes. Also eaten in a matter of minutes. This is from ‘A Piece of Cake’ by Leila Lindholm, which I also shared with Jillian one year.

Which cookies do you make year after year?

Lemon Hearts

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 100 g sugar
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch baking powder
  • 200 g ground almonds
  • A bit of powdered sugar to roll out the dough
  • 100 g powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice

Preheat to 180°C (or 160° in a fan oven) and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixer until light and creamy. Add the baking powder. Carefully mix in the ground almonds. Roll out the dough on a flat surface to a thickness of about 5 mm. Using a hear shaped cookie cutter, cut out hearts and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar until creamy.

Immediately remove the hearts from the baking sheet, by carefully pulling the parchment paper off of the sheet. Then brush the glaze onto the hearts and let cool.

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.

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