Beyond Gingerbread: 11 Holiday Cookies from Around the World Slideshow
November 25, 2014
Beyond Gingerbread: 11 Holiday Cookies from Around the World
Gingerbread cookies are traditionally baked around the holidays in America (and in some other countries as well), whether we’re leaving them for Santa or baking them for ourselves. But beyond these classic confections, other countries have their own recipes for holiday cookies.
Around the holidays, people in Poland bake jam-filled cookies called kolaczki, which may be round, square, or diamond-shaped. Poland, Croatia, and the Czech Republic all claim to have invented this traditional treat.
Norwegian cone-shaped cookies called krumkake are made with a decorative two-sided griddle. They can be eaten plain or filled with whipped cream.
Called either lebkuchen, meaning “gingerbread,” or pfefferkuchen, meaning “pepper cookie,” this cookie is softer than our traditional gingerbread cookie. It can be rectangular or round and has a sweet, slightly nutty taste. Similar recipes date back to ancient Egypt, but the most well-known variation of the cookie is the nürnberger lebkuchen, from the German city of Nürnberg, where it was made into creative shapes and designs and decorated by a professional guild of gingerbread makers, the Lebkuchner Guild.
Mailänderli are lemon-flavored shortbread cookies, cut into various shapes and sizes — a traditional holiday cookie in Switzerland.
Spanish shortbread cookies, called mantecados, are very crumbly and so soft they melt in your mouth. They’re flavored with anise and cinnamon.
Similar in taste to a gingersnap cookie, a pepparkakor is made with maple syrup and is traditionally cut into the shape of a star or heart, although other traditional shapes include a pig or a goat. This Swedish holiday cookie is hung as an ornament on the Christmas tree. Another Swedish custom is to place a pepparkakor in the palm of your hand and make a wish. Then, using your index finger or thumb of your other hand, tap the center of the cookie. If the cookie breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true. If not, you’ll still have a delicious cookie to eat.
Pfeffernüsse (The Netherlands)
Recipes for pfeffernüsse differ slightly, but these tiny cookies, enjoyed during the holidays in The Netherlands, are commonly spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and anise.
Joulutorttu are pinwheel-shaped Finnish holiday cookies or little tarts that are traditionally filled with prunes or lingonberries.
Small, round, honey-flavored cookies called strufoli are baked for the holidays in Italy.