Cookie recipes for a season of yum
By Celeste Gracey | Photos by Chad Coleman
Admit it – the only time of year most people bake is during the holiday season. It’s usually an old-family-favorite recipe that no one else seems to make just right.
A few years ago, I dug out my mom’s Russian Tea Cake recipe and proudly brought the holiday cookies to a party. When I arrived, there was such a calamity of different family recipes, I hardly had room between the candy cane brownies and hand-twisted cookies to set down my plate.
It made me wonder, if every family in my circle of friends had wildly different holiday treats, how different must other countries be? So I studied popular recipes from around the world and picked a few favorites to share.
Try mixing your recipes up a bit this season, or perhaps just make a couple more. After all, my mom isn’t Russian, but somewhere along the line her experiment became my tradition.
Portugal and Brazil
Named for a famous 1940’s Brigadier General named Eduardo Gomes, who loved chocolate, these are a South American-type truffle that are popular at most celebrations. Like many Brazilian desserts, this one uses sweetened condensed milk, giving the center a soft carmelly inside. While they’re traditionally rolled in chocolate sprinkles, try substituting for coconut or something festive.
1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
Little paper or tin liners for serving
Heat the sweetened condensed milk in a heavy pan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly for 10-15 minutes, keeping the mixture barely at a boil, so it doesn’t burn. When the mixture becomes thick and begins to pull away from the pan, pull it off the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
Slide the mixture into a bowl, but don’t leave the residue on the bottom of the pan. Chill for about 20-30 minutes. Then with buttered hands, roll 1-inch balls in your palm, and then roll them into the chocolate sprinkles, covering the gooey chocolate completely. Place them in the liners, and store them in a refrigerator until serving.
These beautiful German tortes are cut into cookie bars, making a perfect celebration food to share. Red jam looks like stained glass windows beneath lattice work and the fruit balances with spicy dough. Making them is similar to rolling out pie crust. It may be more work than a drop cookie, but they’re sure to impress guests.
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered cloves
1 t finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
A jar of your favorite jam
For the glaze
3/4 cup sugar
Make sure the butter is soft, but not melted. Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixer, then add the eggs.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet and incorporate barely. Making sure only to use the yellow part of the rind, add it and the lemon and mix until it’s all incorporated.
Pull the dough from the mixer and knead it into a ball. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
On a lightly-floured board, split the dough in half. Roll one half into a ball, and working slowly with a rolling pin, roll the dough out evenly until it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Try to form a square by cutting off the round edges and reincorporating the dough.
Spread the jam thickly across the top of the dough.
Roll out the second ball, making it longer. Using a knife cut thin strips for a lattice top.
Spacing the strips about 1/2-inch apart, lay them on top of the jam in each direction.
Bake on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly brown on top.
Beat together the egg and sugar, and quickly drizzle the mixture on top while the baked dough is still hot.