Each December, for as long as my husband can remember, his mom has toiled for a long weekend making traditional German Christmas Cookies. Brigitte, Brig for short, is from a small town near Stüttgart, Germany, and while she doesn’t get back there very often, she does like to keep up some traditions.
Brig takes Christmas cookie making seriously. She often makes 7 types of cookies during the baking extravaganza weekend, and her recipes are all written in German. Each recipe makes 14 dozen cookies (and she is unwilling or unable to wrap her brain around the idea of only baking a dozen or so of each kind of cookie). Needless to say, her friends and family are all VERY happy when decides to bake.
From raspberry-filled Spitzbuben flowers (a linzer-like cookie sandwiched with jam) to cinnamony almond Zimsterne stars, Lebkuchen (a mild spice cookie with a thin coating of meringue frosting) to Vanillespritzkerl (or vanilla crescent horseshoes, as my husband Jason likes to call them), Brig covers every horizontal surface in the kitchen with trays of cooling cookies.
Since realizing that he feels better when he stays gluten-free, Jason has opted out of gorging himself on platters of his mom’s cookies.
The thing about having a kitchen that I love is that I want to bake. Even after a long day of work. Even on a rare day off, I want to spread my flours and sugars over the sparkly new counter, pull out spoons and mixing bowls, and just create.
I love to bake for people who appreciate it, and I knew that Jason would be thrilled if I could figure out how to hack some of Brig’s traditional German recipes. So, I took out my notebook and pencil, food processor and rolling pin, and I got to work.
Unlike Brig, I don’t own a nut mill, so I didn’t grind my own almonds for the cookie dough base. But thankfully, Bob’s Red Mill almond meal works beautifully in this recipe.
Making your own jam is not necessary (but of course, Brig does, so I did too). Use any red jam for a bright spot of color in the gray days of winter. This dough is a little bit delicate, but very forgiving. You can roll and reroll scraps as many times as you need to, without worrying that the cookies will be tough. The dough could not be easier to make, too! Just throw it all together in a food processor and pulse until a ball of dough comes together.
Jason loves these. He says the best way to keep them is to put them in tupperware and store in the cold garage, and eat them for weeks afterward. But my batch only made about 2 dozen finished cookies, so I don’t think they’ll last us for weeks. Guess I’ll have to move down the list and transform more of his mom’s recipes!
- 3/4 cup millet flour
- 3/4 cup sweet white rice flour
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 C + 2 tablespoons almond meal or almond flour
- 1 C powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup red jam
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line 2 pans with parchment baking paper and set aside.
- Put the millet flour, sweet white rice flour, potato starch, cornstarch, sugar, almond flour, powdered sugar, salt and xanthan gum in the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse to combine.
- Add the butter, vanilla, lemon juice, and egg and pulse to mix (it should look fairly crumbly, but a handful pinched together should hold its shape).
- Roll out cookie dough thinly, and cut into a flower shape.
- Dot half the cookies with jam, and sandwich another (non-jammed) cookie on top. I like to cut out the holes before I sandwich the cookie, because I find it easier to maneuver.
- Transfer to baking sheets and bake until golden brown, about 16-22 minutes.
- Dust with powdered sugar.
- Bake frozen cookies