Every Christmas, my mom made aromatic spiced cookies, filled with raisins, and topped with a glaze. They were stored in a round tin featuring a jolly picture of Santa, and there were many nights I crept down into the kitchen to sneak a couple back up to my bedroom.
Unfortunately, the recipe for them is long lost now, and I've created my own tradition of trying to duplicate it. I haven't been successful (yet), but my path is littered with delicious spiced cookies that I've enjoyed almost as much. This year's spice cookie is known as Currant Cookies, or Currant Drops in Pennsylvania Dutch country. They're packed with currants, and often glazed. I added some allspice for the spice, because that's what I do. The interesting ingredient is sour cream, which may be at least in part what gives these cookies their soft, almost cake-like texture.
My first batch came out very flat - a result undoubtedly thanks to the butter. Since I prefer my spice cookies to have some height to them, I froze the second batch for a couple of hours to see if that would make a difference. It did. The finished cookies were gently domed as you can see. But if that's not important to you, feel free to nix that step - both batches were delicious.
Pennsylvania Dutch Spice & Currant Christmas Cookies
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and allspice in a medium bowl. Toss in the currants.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, until the butter turns a couple of shades lighter. Add the eggs, and mix on a medium speed for 2 minutes. Beat in the sour cream.
- Gradually fold in the flour mixture using a rubber spatula. Drop small mounds of dough on the parchment paper – I use an ice-cream scooper for this so they’re all the same size. It doesn’t matter how close they are to each other at this point. Freeze for 2 hours. This will help the cookies to hold their shape instead of completely flattening during baking.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F, and rearrange the cookies onto two baking sheets, at least 1 ½” apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Completely cool on a rack before icing.
- Note: Feel free to skip the freezing step if you don’t mind thin, flat cookies.
- Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl, and add the orange juice. Stir together and adjust for thickness as desired. If you prefer it thicker, add a little more powdered sugar; if you want it thinner, add a little more orange juice. Drizzle over the tops of the cookies. I have a squirt bottle I use, but fork tines work fine too!
- Note: I ice cookies on the cooling racks, and place a sheet of parchment paper or foil underneath to catch any extra drizzle. If I scrape up the excess drizzle before it hardens, I can add it back into the squeeze bottle to reduce waste.