Christmas Cookie Heritage

Cookies Christmas

There is no other time of the year that brings out the baker in everyone than Christmastime. And the item to bake has been and always will be: cookies! There does not seem to be any other baked item that brings back the smells and the memories of Christmas more than cookies. When asking almost anyone they can tell you how their earliest memories of Christmas include the wonderful aromas of baking cookies. So this holiday if you are looking for a great way to make those memories with your family, bring your kids in the kitchen, break out the cookie recipes and get started on making some delicious memories. Just don’t forget the ice cold milk!

A great way to include Christmas cookies in your holiday celebration is to include cookies from the country of your family’s origin. Since cookies are such an integral part of Christmas celebrations around the world there are literally hundreds of recipes to choose from. This is a delightful way to introduce your children to some of your family’s heritage and have delicious cookies to eat when you are through. Here are a few wonderful examples:

Australia-If your family hails from Down Under (or even if you just want to visit there) consider making these delicious cookies. It is fun to note that despite the name, Christmas is a summer holiday in Australia.

White Christmas

3 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup coconut
3/4 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
60 g (2 oz) mixed candied fruit, chopped
60 g (2 oz) red and green candied cherries, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
125 g (4.5 oz) white vegetable shortening
125 g (4.5 oz) white chocolate chips

Brush a 9 x 13″ pan with oil. Combine Rice Krispies, coconut, powdered milk, powdered sugar, and all fruit in a large bowl. Melt the shortening with the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Combine chocolate/shortening and Rice Krispies mixture. Press into the prepared pan and refrigerate until set. Remove from the pan; allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

China-For an exotic addition to your Christmas celebration try these fun cookies. Christmas is widely celebrated in China by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Chinese Almond Cookies

*A northern China variation of this cookie uses pine nuts instead of almonds.

1 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose floor
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
5 dozen whole blanched almonds
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat shortening with granulated sugar and brown sugar until creamy. Add whole egg and almond extract; beat until well blended. In another bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking powder; add to creamed mixture, blending thoroughly. To shape each cookie, roll about 1 tablespoon dough into a ball. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets, then flatten each slightly to make a 2″ round. Gently press an almond into center of each round. Place egg yolk and water in a small bowl; beat together lightly with a fork. Brush mixture over top of each cookie with a pastry brush. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to racks and let cool. Store in airtight container

Germany-There is no other country that celebrates Christmas with more cookies than Germany. For a traditional German touch to your festivities try this surprisingly yummy cookie!

Berliner Kranser

1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 hard cooked egg yolk, sieved
1 raw egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 slightly beaten egg white
1/3 cup (14) sugar cubes, crushed

Beat butter for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in flour. Cover and chill one hour. Preheat oven to 325 F. Work with a small amount of dough at a time, keeping the rest chilled until needed. Using about one tablespoon of dough for each cookie, roll into six inch ropes. Shape each rope into a wreath, overlapping (form a cross) about 1 inch from the ends. Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with crushed sugar cubes. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 – 17 minutes or until golden. Cool about one minute before removing to a wire rack.

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