I started baking christmas cookies in November. Not even the end of November, but as soon as the trees had lost all their leaves and the temperature showed that autumn was coming to an end.
I take holiday baking very seriously. Last year I had set myself the goal to bake 24 different christmas cookies before the 24th of December. And well, I nearly succeeded…due to some miscalculations I ended up defeated and with only 23 different cookies. It’s still touchy…
This year, I probably won’t even make it to 4 different cookies by Christmas Eve, because my cookie boxes always appear to be mysteriously emptied within a couple of days… Okay it’s not a mystery. I have found an open box of cookies next to a sleeping Jason on more than one morning.
I take it as an indication that they are freaking delicious!
The first cookies I made are also the easiest and tastiest. I call them Butter Cookies and they are super popular in Austria around this time of the year, but I think they might also be known as Sugar Cookies or Shortbread in other parts of the world. Anyway, they are definitely loaded with butter and sugar and taste simply heavenly.
- 300g all-purpose flour (2 cups)
- 2/3 cup icing sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g cold butter (7/8 cup)
- Preheat your oven to 180C.
-Mix together the flour and icing sugar in a bowl.
-Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the egg yolks and the vanilla into it. With a spoon (or your hands) mix it all together until the yolks are well distributed.
-Cut the butter into small cubes and add into the bowl. Work fast to combine the butter with the flour, the butter should stay cold. Form smooth ball of dough but don’t overwork the dough.
-Wrap the dough with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
-Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Aim for a 3mm thickness. Cut out cookies with cookie cutters and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
-Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookie are just about to start browning on the edges.
-After they have cooled you can decorate the cookies with a chocolate glaze.
The second recipe I’d like to share with you is the quintessential Austrian Christmas cookie. We call it Vanillekipferl which means vanilla crescent, and they are very similar to Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cookies. They have a very fragrant vanilla scent, and they are melt-in-the-mouth buttery, with a hint of crunchy hazelnuts.
Let’s get started!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
- 1/3 cup icing sugar
- 125 g cold butter (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 75g icing sugar
-Preheat your oven to 160C.
-Combine the flour, hazelnuts and icing sugar in a bowl.
-Cut the butter into cubes and add into the bowl with the vanilla extract.
-Use your hands to knead all the ingredients together into a ball of dough. Work fast so the butter doesn’t get warm. (At this point you could refrigerate the dough and make the cookies later/the next day)
-Use your fingers to roll the dough into 5cm long rolls, bend them into a crescent and place them onto a baking paper lined tray.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tips of the crescent are just starting to brown.
-Put the remaining icing sugar into a bowl. After the cookies have cooled down, roll them in the icing sugar until well coated.
-Put the cookies in a pretty box to give away to loved ones or eat a shameful amount of them yourself while watching Home Alone followed by Home Alone 2.