Eva’s German Christmas Cookies

22 Dec

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I’ve never been much of a collector of anything.  In fact, I’m quite the opposite.  I am at my happiest when I am ridding my household of unnecessary items and slipping unused travel mugs into the trash behind my husband’s back.  My friend collects snowmen, my brother-in-law collects coins, my grandfather collected stamps and my father-in-law collects Marilyn Monroe wine (hey, whatever moves you).  But a glance though my personal belongings reveals no rhyme or reason to anything I own.  I don’t hang on to anything long enough to officially collect it.

Today, I was searching for a Christmas cookie recipe left behind by our German exchange student, Eva.  As I tore through my cookbooks and files, I realized that I have quite the collection of personal recipes from friends and family.  There were Argentinean cookies from a friend who I worked with more than 10 years ago, a Chai tea recipe from a college roommate, a cranberry chutney recipe from a dear friend who I haven’t seen in years and many more.  It’s not surprising that I have come into so many recipes.  I eagerly quiz people on their favorite dishes, family traditions and have no shame asking for recipes that intrigue me.  But each recipe I bring home is more than just the anticipation of new food. I also bring home a part of that person who will always be in my thoughts when I make that dish.

It’s amazing how my collection of recipes connects me to people long after we have crossed paths and allows me to remember conversations and occasions that I might otherwise have forgotten.  That’s why I love these Christmas cookies. These are from Eva’s family and are her favorite cookies that her Grandmother makes at Christmastime.  This is the most cozy, rustic, beautiful recipe because… there is no recipe!  Eva’s Grandmother makes these cookies from scratch and does not have the recipe written down.  So for Eva to make them for us last Christmas, she had to translate over the phone from her Grandmother and then try to recreate them on her own.  And for me to share these with you, I had to do my best to follow the recipe from that same note that Eva translated and left at our house.

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These cookies are hearty and spicy and make you think of gingerbread houses and small German villages.  I’m obsessed with them and have added them to the mandatory rotation of family Christmas cookies.  Like all recipes, I followed Eva’s notes and then made some of my own adjustments like adding some salt and vanilla and brushing with a glaze. I also used a scale and followed the grams but you can do a conversion.  I’m actually not sure if I did it the way Eva would ( I think she does something with sugar and honey instead of a vanilla glaze), but they tasted great, so that’s all that matters! Eva’s German Christmas Cookies

Ingredients

  • 400 grams spelt flour (about 3 cups, I weighed it so I’m making a guess based on conversions)
  • 100 grams almond meal (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 250 grams brown sugar (a generous 1 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Vanilla Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons milk (give or take depending on texture)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

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Combine flours, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl and set aside.  Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars on high speed for about 1 minute until light and fluffy.  Add one egg at a time and once fully incorporated, add vanilla.  With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, scraping the bowl as necessary.   You might find that you need to hand mix the dough to fully mix all of the flour. Divide dough into two portions, wrap in plastic wrap pressing into a disk and refrigerate for at least an hour. DSCN9495

Remove one disk of chilled dough and roll to about 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface.  Cut out desired shapes and place on baking sheet.  I tend to choose smaller sized shapes because the spice in these cookies is very flavorful.  Bake on the middle rack for 8-10 minutes.

IMPORTANT:  these are the type of cookies that need to come out before they look done unless you want them crispy.  Take them out of oven when top is dry and edges are barely beginning to brown.  Let rest on baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. DSCN9498

While cookies cool, make vanilla glaze by mixing all ingredients.  The consistency should be thick enough that it doesn’t run right off the cookie and can be easily brushed or drizzled on.  Glaze the cookies and sprinkle turbinado sugar if you want a more festive looking cookie.  Enjoy! DSCN9499

Eva's cookies from 2012

Eva’s cookies from 2012

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2 Responses to “Eva’s German Christmas Cookies”

  1. mydearbakes December 23, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    This is such a delightful bake! So pretty!

  2. Jeanette Christy December 23, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    They look so good but I bet they are a lot of work

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