Growing up in Germany, Christmas time always meant cookie time. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, our home would be filled with yummy smells of cinnamon, chocolate, oranges, and just delicious baking.
When we were very young, we would play in the snow and come inside for a hot drink and some home baked cookies – they tasted even better after being out in the crispy fresh air. We would take them to school and proudly share those treats with our friends. We would bake cookies and wrap them up nicely as a gift. Cookies were just part of Christmas.
Even now I still make cookies every Christmas, doesn’t matter whether I’m in Germany, South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand. Over time I’ve tired several recipes – usually when celebrating Christmas in a hot country, I made cookies that were a bit fruitier. I love getting creative and trying new things. Yet the good old traditional ones, such as Vanillekipferl, Spitzbuben, and Cinnamon stars are still a hit.
Below are a few of my favorites. I limited myself to five recipes, which was quite hard. As soon as I think of one another pops up, so I might just post some more cookie recipes separately (so the Christmas vibes can last a bit longer at the same time 🙂 ).
I hope you enjoy – both eating and making them (especially the actual making part, which I find sometimes is even more fun).
These yummies are almost melting on your tongue as soon as you take a bite. The icing sugar and ground almonds make them nice and fluffy on the inside. And the vanilla flavor just tops it off.
Makes about 70 cookies:
- 1 vanilla bean (or vanilla extract)
- 300g flour
- 100g ground almonds
- 190g icing sugar
- pinch of salt
- 200g butter
- 1 egg yolk
- vanilla sugar
- Scrape vanilla paste from the bean and add to flour, almonds, 90g icing sugar, salt. Combine with butter and egg yolk to a nicely solid dough. Put in fridge for ca. 1hr.
- Pre-heat oven to 140°C (fan bake) and prepare oven trays with baking paper. Half the dough and form into two rolls each. Cut each roll into 35 slices.
- Form each slice into a crescent shape and place onto oven trays. Bake for 12 – 15min or until slightly brown. Mix rest of icing sugar with vanilla sugar and toss baked cookies in sugar mixture so that they are completely covered.
I made those for my first Christmas in New Zealand. It was a very hot summer and I didn’t want to miss out on some homemade Xmas goodies.
The coconut and dried fruits make them a bit fruitier and fresher than traditional Christmas cookies, but at the same time add up to a delicious flavor combo.
Makes about 20 cookies:
- 120g flour
- 50g butter
- 50g brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 100g shredded coconut
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
- 30g pitted dates, diced
- 40g cranberries, diced
- 1 small lemon, zest and juice
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C (fan bake). Prepare oven tray(s) with baking paper.
- Mix butter, sugar, egg, and syrup until well combined. Add coconut and flour. Then slowly add the dried fruit and a bit of lemon zest as well as all of the juice. Mix well.
- Place drops of dough (tablespoon size) onto oven tray. They won’t rise much so you can place them quite close to one another. Bake for ca. 15min or until golden brown.
Simple cookies (plus your own creativity)
This is a classic. You can have so much fun when making these as there is no limit to getting creative here.
I like getting all my cookies cutters out and experiment around with flavors and toppings. Or simply keep it to the basics and they will still be a hit, especially for kids 🙂
Makes as many as you want it to be:
- 500g flour
- 250g sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla sugar
- 250g butter
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Knead all ingredients together (best to do by hand, so it gets solid and smooth at the same time).
- You can put the dough into the fridge for later, but can also use it right away. Pre-heat oven to 180°C (fan bake).
- Time to get creative: add food coloring, add some flavour (shredded coconut, cocoa, chocolate chips, ….) and get your cookie cutters out (or create some shapes yourself).
- Bake for 8-12min. Let cool and decorate, if you would like.
Some ideas for toppings:
- mix icing sugar with a bit of lemon juice and brush onto cookies; you can also use the lemon mix as a glue to place some sprinkles, shredded coconut, chopped nuts.
- melt chocolate (dark, milk, white, or a combination) and pour onto cookies (e.g. making stripes, diamonds, or little dots).
- top with mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon.
- brush cookies before baking with egg yolk – makes them super crispy.
One of my best friends in high school brought these along one day and I just had to get the recipe off her. I like the crispiness but at the same time soft texture due to the raisins.
Makes about 60 cookies:
- 350g flour
- 175g butter
- 250g sugar
- Pinch of vanilla sugar (or a little drop of vanilla essence)
- 2 eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 100g raisins (I always use more than that)
- 125g crushed almonds (or hazelnuts)
- Knead all ingredients together to a solid dough
- Split dough into 4 piles and make rolls of 4cm diameter. Cover with glad wrap and freeze for ca. 2hrs.
- Pre-heat oven to 190°C (fan bake) and prepare oven trays with baking paper. Use a bread slicing machine (or a strong sharp knife) to cut rolls into thin round slices – the thinner, the crispier the cookies will be
- Bake for about 8min or until golden brown.
Just making these cookies will set you into Xmas mood. The honey smells so great when heating it up and adding cinnamon and cocoa makes for a perfect Christmas taste experience.
Makes about 50 cookies:
- 100g brown sugar
- 70g honey
- 20ml (ca. 2 tbsp) milk
- 50g butter
- 250g flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 15g cocoa powder
- 2tsp vanilla sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 50g ground hazelnuts
- White chocolate (50-100g)
- Dark chocolate (50-100g)
- In a small pot add sugar, honey, milk, and butter and bring to boil until sugar has dissolved. Let cool down.
- Mix flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, vanilla sugar, cinnamon, and hazelnuts in a large bowl. Add honey mixture and combine well.
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line oven trays with baking paper. Roll dough out to 2-3mm thickness. Use star or heart shaped cookie cutters (or any other shape you like) and place onto baking tray.
- Bake for 10-12min and let cool down. Melt both chocolates and dip cookies half into white and/or half into dark chocolate. Sprinkle with extra chocolate for some final touches.