Thursday, December 14

Almost

Sinterklaas has left the country, our (gigantic) tree is up, shining and smelling really nice, and I have finally time to spend some time behind the computer and post again.
It has been so busy lately…I’m glad it’s almost vacation - time for Christmas!
(who in the world can do math or French when you know you have to go to school for just one more week?!)

Did you know that Santa Claus is based on our Sinterklaas? Yes - they both refer to Saint Nicolas; a bishop who lived in the third century and became known for his generosity and love for children.
A big difference however, is that Sinterklaas still comes with a boat from Spain, and Santa Claus with a sledge from the North Pole. Sinterklaas comes along with his black ‘pieten’ and Santa Claus has elves…
Here in Holland you see around this time of year a sort of battle between Sinterklaas and Santa Claus, on who’s nicer/better…really strange when you know they are the same person!

Anyway, Saint Nicolas 1 is gone and it’s time for number 2! Christmas!
Time for a lovely, forest-y smelling house, twinkling lights, Christmas songs on the radio, snow (yeah right!), presents under the tree, and…making Christmas cookies!

Making Christmas cookies is such a relaxing, rewarding thing - and it will definitely bring you in the holiday spirit!
It’s easy, they smell amazing, you can make them in every kind of shape or flavour you want, and it’s really fun to decorate them in every possible way…

I made my basic recipe which is perfect and really hard to mess up, and when I was finished I added some of my favourite flavours.
I divided the dough into three, and kneaded into the first ball some salt and pepper, into the second ball some cinnamon and into the third ball some cacao powder…
They all turned out beautiful and perfectly crispy, but the cinnamon version was absolutely my favourite…delicious!

I made a sugar glaze and melted some chocolate, put on a Christmas cd and I got going with a whole load of decorations: candy pens, sprinkles, and lovely little silver, gold, and green sugar balls…
It was really calming (in these 3 hours I almost forgot all the schoolwork I still have to do…) and you will feel so proud and artistic if your cookie turns out good and pretty…
And the ugly, not so arty cookies? Ah…they’ll be quickly gone and forgotten… ;)

Christmas Cookies
- 300g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg, ½ tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 100g (½ cup, 1 stick) butter, softened and sliced
- 100g (2/3 cup) brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten with
- 4 Tbsp liquid honey
glaze:
- 250g (2 cups) confectioner’s sugar
- 4 Tbsp boiling water
extra:
- 100g (1 bar) good quality chocolate
- sprinkles, candy pens, sugar balls, etc.

1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, spices and baking powder. Add the butter and sugar, and mix with the electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until crumbly. While the mixer is spinning, slowly add the egg/honey mixture. - Don’t pour in at once, otherwise there is a big chance you’re dough will be too sticky! - Pour in until you have a well blended, handable dough.
The dough is now ready. You can just use it like this (and go to step 2) or add some spices/flavours.
This is what I did:
Divide the dough into three and put the three balls into different, small bowls. Add to bowl 1 a good pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Knead this into the dough. Do this as well for bowl 2 and 3, adding 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, and 2 tablespoon of cacao powder.

2. Beat each ball down to a disc and wrap into plastic. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Flour your work surface, and take out the first disk of dough.
Roll out thinly, keep flouring (it can be a bit sticky) and cut out the cookies - or if you don’t have cookie cutters, just carve them out with a sharp knife. Transfer to the baking sheet and make a small hole in each cookie so you can hang them in the tree.
Knead the leftovers together, roll out again and cut out more cookies. Do this until you have no more dough left. Do this as well with the other two flavours.
You can also put a bit of chocolate and cinnamon dough together and make fusion cookies! (see the last picture)

4. Bake for about 10 minutes until the bottom is golden brown. But keep checking them during the baking! Let cool completely and make the glaze, or store in an airtight container.

Glaze:
1. Mix the confection’s sugar with the boiling water, adding each spoon of water after the previous one is well blended, until you have a silky, thick glaze.

Melt the chocolate, while stirring, in an heatproof bowl.
Get out a few clean spoons, kitchen paper and the decorations…and get creative! ;)


20 comments:

Asha said...

Beautiful cookies and great write up in Sisterklass! We ie my family don't have Christmas but we still enjoy all the joy and festivities around this time.Have fun baking!:))

Kristen said...

Your cookies are gorgeous! I can't imagine there being any not worthy of gift giving. Very nice job.

aria said...

look at all these gorgeous coookies! yumyum yay!! :)

gattina said...

I want some... no, I mean a lot! I want them hanging allover my tree!
Beautiful recipe and flavor!

connie said...

Julia you did a great job with the decorations. so much fun! how did the pepper cookies taste? what would they taste good with? coffee? tea?

cforcooking said...

I'd like a visit from Santa AND Sinterklaas!

Brilynn said...

Yay for Christmas baking!

Lauren said...

I hope mine turn out as wonderful; I start today!

peabody said...

Very cute.

Yummie dummieS said...

Hi Julia! I LOVE your blog! It must be really nice living in Holland, with so much nice desserts and snacks! Especially the macaroons. Ooo..... the macaroons....

Julia said...

Thanks Asha, ah that’s too bad - but I’ve seen you have as well great holidays! : )

Hi Kristen, thank you! Indeed, if they survive it till then…;)

Hi Aria, haha, glad you like them!

Thanks for your comment Gattina, but I should warn you, I don’ t think they will last till Christmas!

Thanks Connie! It was indeed very fun to do…
The pepper cookies are great, they are still sweet but have sort of a sharpness and an extra hotness (but not too much) Especially is you’d decorate them with sugar glaze, I would recommend tea.

Hi CforCooking, than I’m very lucky!! ;)

Hi Brilynn, triple yay!

Hi lauren, oee, nice! Have fun! : )

Thanks Peabody!

Hi Yummy Dummies, thank you for your nice comment! We have makronen (the coconut version!) but sadly no macarons…so not so lucky! : ( ; )

WhItE_PoPlAr said...

Love your cute tree-shaped cookies! I am dreamjing of a big Xmas tree Cookies with a lot of little ornaments made from cookies as well. AM I asking for a little too much? ;)

veron said...

such lovely cookies! I like the one with the teddy bear...so sweet.

Dianka said...

Julia, I enjoyed reading your post too! Love the similarities in our culture and I love to learn about other traditions. Your cookies look so yummy and creative. Happy Holidays to you!

FreyaE said...

You have such a great blog with fantastic photography! The cookies look delicious!
Merry Christmas!
Freya

Thomas said...

I sure am glad I made it to the age of 33 still believing in Santa Claus. Because this Christmas would really suck if anybody told me otherwise.

Angie said...

Wow, Christmas baking! Have fun baking and have a Merry Christas! :)

Julia said...

Hi White Poplar, hmm I think you’d be busy for a while baking, but I sure love the idea…very tasty! ;)

Thanks Veron, the teddy bear is as well my favourite, so sweet!

Thank you for your comment Dianka, merry Christmas!

Hi Freyae, thank you for your sweet comment, that’s so nice! Merry x-mas!

Hi Thomas - haha, I don’t say a thing! ;) happy holidays…

Thanks Angie, yes I love it! And so much more has yet to be done for Christmas…! You too have a great time! : )

Marieke said...

Hoi Julia,

Ik begrijp precies wat je bedoelt met de het proces van het koekjes bakken (ook al heb ik gelukkig geen huiswerk meer en hoef ik niet meer te studeren. Je kerstkoekjes zien er lief en heerlijk uit.

Een heel fijne kerst voor jou en je familie.

Marieke

eliza said...

hi julia,
yes i know sinterklaas :) and his swater piet (sp?)...i used to leave grass in my shoes by the bed on dec 5 & wait for the presents in the morning when i was in indonesia.
happy holidays to you!