Cookie baking is happening right now, all over the world. So this time of year, I like to share traditional Christmas cookies from around the world, to share old-fashioned cookie traditions we can bring into our own kitchens. This year, I focused on Europe. Come join me!
Italian Christmas Cookies
I spent a month in Italy this year, so I had to start with this country. So, first up are these Italian Christmas Cookies from Cakes Cottage. They're lightly sweet and perfect for dunking in espresso. Also known as Zuccarini in Naples, some nonnas swap out water for lemon juice in the icing. That's how I make them too, and I like to add a little anise.
Amaretto is a favorite after dinner drink of mine, so I'm definitely making these Chewy Amaretti Cookies from Kitchen Sanctuary. This classic Italian treat features almonds, and is a traditional cookie in both Sardinia and Sicilia.
And we can't celebrate Italian Christmas cookies without sharing a recipe for these traditional Pizzelle from Culinary Hill. This cookie requires a Pizzelle Iron, and boasts flavors of either anise or lemon. But feel free to switch them up to your own taste.
Another holiday cookie with Italian roots is the Florentine Cookie. Some call them Lace Cookies, as in this recipe, or Almond Lace Cookies. Here's a fabulous tutorial on how to make these gorgeous cookies, and make them into a cookie sandwich, by Sally's Baking Addiction.
Scandinavian Christmas Cookies
Called struva in Sweden, Rosettes are deep-fried cookies of both Swedish and Norwegian origin, and very popular during Christmas. Just heat an intricately designed iron to a very high temperature in oil, dip it into batter, and then re-immerse in the hot oil to create a crisp shell around the metal. Here's a some information on the Rosette Iron (affiliate link):
Immediately remove the iron again, and watch the rosette separate from the iron. Dip into sugar or frosting for a little gilt. Check these Rosette Cookies out at That Skinny Chick Can Bake, and get a tutorial!
Have you ever had Pepparkakor (also spelled Pepperkakor)? If you like ginger cookies, you need to try this Swedish traditional Christmas version. They’re crispy, crunchy, and lightly spiced with ginger, cloves and black pepper. Check out this recipe from La Pêche Fraîche for beautiful Classic Pepparkakor cookies.
Joulutorttu are traditional Finnish Christmas cookies made in a shape of pinwheel and filled with a delicious prune jam. Check out this recipe for Joulutorttu from Lavendar & Macarons.
German Christmas Cookies (and One Christmas Cookie From the Netherlands)
A common Christmas cookie from the Netherlands is Speculaas. Although, to be fair, I should mention these cookies are also found in Belgium, Germany and Austria. Essentially, Speculaas is a shortbread dough laced with spices reminiscent of ones Dutch ships brought back from the Far East, that's pressed into wooden molds. The original molds displayed figures or scenes associated with Christmas, although today there is much more variety. The molded dough is carefully removed, and baked. You can purchase wooden molds if you want to try them out. And now check out these Speculaas from Grown to Cook.
A popular German Christmas cookie is Lebkuchen, a soft gingerbread cookie for grownups (there's a little liquor added). The spices are a little different from the traditional gingerbread cookies you grew up with, and you finish them with a egg wash. Here's a authentic recipe for Lebkuchen from Leelalicious.
And then there are Pfeffernüsse (Pepper Nuts) cookies, that have white pepper as an ingredient. Yes, you read that correctly. White pepper. They also have allspice, cardamom and ginger in them. Here's a wonderful recipe for Pferrenüsse from T & Tea Cake. A word of warning, don't throw these cookies together at the last minute. The dough requires a long overnight nap in the refrigerator.
Springerle cookies look related to Speculaas, as they both have pictures embossed on their tops. Springerle cookies, however, are made with intricate cookie presses, or an embossed wooden roller that's rolled over the dough. And the traditional version is anise flavored. Here's a recipe I recommend you trying for Springerle from Butterlust.
And here's a picture of some Springerle molds to use as cookie presses, and a typical embossed roller (affiliate link).
Austrian Christmas Cookies
Onto Austria for Vanillekipferl, vanilla flavored crescents made from a short crust pastry dough. Short crust pastry dough is tricky as it falls apart easily. Go to Masala Herb's post on Vanillekipferl and read her tips for eliminating those problems.
And we're all familiar with Linzer cookies. I think of them as the original sandwich cookie. Go read Wanna Come With's post that includes step-by-step instructions with photos for making Linzer cookies.
Other Christmas Cookies From Europe and Beyond
From Russia, we have Russian Tea Cakes from Crazy For Crust. Soft as pillow, feel free to make these tea cakes with hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, or walnuts.
Have you ever made Melomakarona cookies from Greece? This gooey – honey Christmas cookie, strewn with crushed walnuts, is amazing. Here's a great Melomakarona recipe from Scrummy Lane, with process photos and tips so your cookies come out just right.
So there you have it. Fifteen new holiday cookies to try this year. I don't know about you, but I want to make them all. Please let me know if you make any of them, and what you think!