In this series about Christmas cookies, I am introducing four of the most popular and easiest cookies using the recipes I learned from my grandmother. Delicate Christmas cookies appeared on the Christmas tables of the upper classes of Europe in the early 1800s. Prior to that, “crackers” sweetened with honey were considered a treat. Sugar was still rare, and honey was also expensive, so sweets were eaten on special occasions, such as Solstice celebrations or Christmas. For centuries, cookies were made in the shapes of animals. The pagans believed that eating the animal-shaped cookies passed the animal’s traits on to the eater. Many recipes have been handed down from generation to generation with small regional differences in ingredients.
Bear’s claws are traditional Czech Christmas cookies. They are best baked early, on the first Advent holiday, so they have time to rest and soften before Christmas. Learn more about Czech pagan, Advent, and Christmas traditions here.
- Metal cookie molds
- 350 g All-purpose flour
- 260 g Butter European-style butter produces the best results
- 250 g Confectioner’s sugar
- 120 g Finely ground walnuts
- 50 g Dutch cocoa
- 2-2.5 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 6-8 Ground cloves
- 1 Tbs Milk
- All ingredients should be at room temperature.
- This dough takes a while to put together, so be patient. Wrap the finished dough in plastic wrap and let it rest overnight in the fridge.
- The finished dough should have a silky consistency and should sit overnight until all the spices come together. Let the dough come up to room temperature before working with it. The molds and dough should be at the same temperature. It is not necessary to grease the cookie mold because this cookie dough contains enough butter to prevent them from sticking. The grandmother’s wisdom to prevent the cookies from sticking to the mold is to never wash them in soap water.
- Push the dough into the molds. The inside must be thin, the edges smooth.
- Put the filled molds on a baking sheet, and bake them at 350F, paring up molds of the same size, so that they bake evenly. The dough will first puff up in the molds but later deflate. Because the cookies are a dark color, watch carefully so they do not burn. If your oven does not bake evenly, the cookie sheets will need to be rotated halfway through baking.
- While the cookies are still warm, remove them from their mold by gently tapping them on a cutting board or countertop. Cover the still-warm cookies with vanilla confectioner’s sugar.
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Christmas baking: festive cookies, candies, cakes, breads, and snacks to bring comfort and joy to your holiday by Klynstra, Joyce Klynstra, Laura
Baking for the holidays: 50+ treats for a festive season by Sarah Kieffer
Call Number: 641.568 KIEFFER
Call Number: 641.8654 CHRISTMA