Our Christmas cookies today can be traced back to Medieval European recipes. From the Lebkuchen in Germany, Krumkake in Norway, to the Papparkakor in Sweden, traditional Christmas cookies have many flavors. It wasn’t until the early 16th century that the Dutch brought Christmas cookies to America. The original flavors of Christmas cookies are still celebrated today during the holidays.
Lebkuchen (Pfefferkuchen or Honigkuchen)
This German gingerbread cookie can vary in ingredients, names, and ranging in taste from spicy to sweet. The most popular shape for the cookie is round and is typically glazed or coated in dark chocolate. The ingredients usually include: honey, anise, coriander, cloves, ginger cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts (almond, hazelnut, or walnut), and candied fruit.
Krumkake (or Krum Kaka)
This Norwegian waffle cookie is popular in Norway, as well as in the American Midwest by Norwegian immigrant descendants. The Krumkake dough contains flour, butter, eggs, sugar, and cream. It is baked on a two-sided decorated iron griddle and then shaped on a conical rolling pin, while still hot. The cookie can have a sweet filling or can be used as an ice cream cone.
Pepparkakor is a thin gingersnap crisp and is a traditional Christmas Swedish treat. They are eaten year-round but are round in shape and usually not home-made. These cookies can be shaped as little men and women, pigs or hearts, and are decorated with frosting. The ingredients include flour, baking soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, butter, water, dark corn syrup, and white and brown sugar.
These Italian waffle cookies can be made hard and crisp or soft and chewy, depending on the ingredients and preparation. Pizzelle were originally made in south-central Italy, in the Abruzzo region. The batter is poured on a Pizzelle iron (like a waffle-iron) containing a snowflake imprint on both sides, then cooked by hand over a stove. You can now find these irons that use no stovetop, just electricity. The ingredients usually include flour, eggs, sugar, butter or vegetable oil, and flavoring (lemon zest, anise, or vanilla).
Repostería is a Mexican shortbread-like cookie that’s lightly baked, then rolled in a cinnamon-sugar mixture. These cookies are served with coffee or hot spiced Mexican hot chocolate. The ingredients usually are: baking powder, baking soda, flour, cinnamon, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and shortening.
Known in the U.S. as Spritz, these German cookies are made with flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. They turn out to be buttery, crisp, fragile, and somewhat dry. The Spritz dough is squeezed through a press with patterned holes. This is a common German treat during Christmas, and parents usually spend afternoons baking with their children for 1-2 weeks.
Sugar cookies (Amish sugar cookies or Nazareth sugar cookies)
These classic cookies were created by the Moravians who settled in the Nazareth area of Pennsylvania during the mid-18th century from Germany. The ingredients include butter, sugar, confectioner’s sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, and salt. These can be decorated with icing and cut out into many Christmas shapes.
These are only a few of the cookies found in family traditions around the world. Let Cookies by Design help you to make a new family tradition. Our Hanukkah and Christmas cookie bouquets, baskets, and boutrays will make a perfect gift for a loved one or as a decorative piece to your holiday feast!