Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cookies 2011 - Part 1 - Currants, Pfeffernussen, Spice Pigs & more

Monday I began my yearly Christmas Cookie baking week.  It has been a tradition in my family to bake lots of wonderful Christmas cookies every year.  I make some of the same cookies that my mother and grandmother made when I was a child, and I have added in many other favorites over the years as well.

I always start the first day of baking by mixing up any dough that needs refrigerating, like my gingerbread boys, sugar cookies, snowballs, and refrigerator cookies.  So Monday that is mostly what I did, but I ended the night by making Pfeffernussen.

When I was a child we used to buy Pfeffernussen at the store every Christmas time.  I loved them, so when I saw a recipe for them a few years back I had to add it to my cookie list.  I use the recipe from Martha Stewart- here is a link to the recipe on her website - Pfeffernussen Recipe .  I did make one change, instead of rolling them in powdered sugar I glazed them.  I make snowballs and didn't want two powder covered cookies on my trays, and the kind we bought when I was younger were glazed.  After doing a little research I found out that some recipes call for anise extract either in the glaze or in the dough, I may make another batch and add a very tiny smidgen of anise extract to the glaze, because the ones I had as a child had a taste very similar to anise.  But I may just leave well enough alone, because they taste wonderful as they are.  This is a wonderful spicy cookie.

Here is a picture of my Pfeffernussen half are glazed and half are waiting to be glazed- my glaze was just powdered sugar, water and half a teaspoon of vanilla, I dunked the whole cookie in the bowl of glaze and gently removed it with a fork.

Today I started by baking two of my favorite Currant cookies- every Christmas I stock up on currants!

The first cookie is a Currant Slice and Bake cookie that I found on the back of a Sun Maid Currant box years ago, it has been one of my favorite cookies ever since- and it is sooo easy to make.

Here is the link to the recipe at Sun Maid - Sun Maid Slice and Bake Zante Currant Cookies

Mix 1 cup of softened butter with 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg and 2 teaspoons of vanilla, beat until light and fluffy, then add 2 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, mix well then fold in 1 cup of currants.  Shape into two logs, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap, chill until firm (I leave mine overnight).  Then slice into 1/4 inch slices - I bake mine on baking parchment at 350 F. for 10-12 minutes.  This makes close to 4 dozen.

Here's what they look like rolled into a log.

Here are the Currant Slice and Bakes fresh out of the oven, this is a wonderful light and tasty cookie!

I also use my currants in this English tea cake recipe that I found in my copy of 1001 Cookie Recipes.  I love this cookie book, you can find a cookie for whatever baking ingredients you happen to have on hand.

Here is my Amazon Affiliate link-

This recipe for English Tea Cakes is very simple-
Cream 1 cup shortening with 1 cup sugar, then beat in four eggs one at a time ( I mix mine in all at once), then mix in 1 cup of flour until mixed well then fold in 1 1/2 cups currants.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan.   Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly colored on top.  Cool then Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into squares or little triangles.

Here is the cake ready to go into the oven.

Here is my English tea cake cut into squares- perfect with a cup of tea!!

Next I tackled a roll out cookie- Finnish Spice Cookie Pigs.  I first made Spice Pigs when I saw the idea in a magazine, I lost the recipe and found it a few years back at TLCs website- here is the link- Finnish Spice Cookies .  I don't make these every year, some years I just cut out pigs from my standard gingerbread dough, but this spice cookie is different from gingerbread dough, and has a wonderful spice flavor. Here are my pigs cooling on the rack.

Here they are frosted- the recipe calls for Royal icing, but I prefer an icing made from powdered sugar, a few teaspoons of shortening, half teaspoon vanilla, and milk to thin until it is the right consistency.  I ice all of my cookies using plastic Ziploc freezer bags, just spoon in the icing, and cut a very small tip in the corner, works great every time, and clean up is a breeze!  I love the look of these sweet little pigs, and they taste wonderful!!

 I finished out the night with a batch of classic Snow Balls aka- Russian Tea Cakes.  This is the recipe I grew up enjoying every Christmas.

Russian Tea Cakes-

1 cup Butter (the original recipe called for margarine- but I prefer Butter)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus lots more for rolling cookies in)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla until combined, mix in flour and salt until thoroughly combined.  Chill dough.  Roll dough in 1 inch balls, I bake mine on baking parchment at 400 F. for about 10 minutes- or until set but not brown.  While warm roll in powdered sugar using a spoon because the sugar gets very hot.  I like to store mine with extra powdered sugar poured around the cookies, it helps the sugar stay on nicely.

Here are a few of my snow balls, I always make a double batch, because they go quickly. Yum!

I also have a tray of Fantasy Fudge cooling and waiting to be cut into squares- I use the recipe right off the back of the Marshmallow cream, turns out great every time.

Tomorrow I will be back to work, with my Gingerbread cutouts and Sugar cookie cutouts, I also made some Cherry Date Balls that I will be sharing in my cookie post - part two, along with a few more recipes.  I hope everyone is enjoying this week with all of the baking, and wrapping, and Christmas preparations.


  1. Wow, you´ve done a great job. All of your cookies look so good. I´m sure I will try some myself.

  2. Yum. Yum! Wish we were coming to your house.: ) Our Pfeffernüsse hier in Germany are also glazed and i have never seen them with powdered sugar, so I think you did the right thing. Merry Christmas and many blessings for the New Year, April!!

  3. Yum! They all sound fantastic, and I haven't come across most of them before. We are baking more tomorrow so I might try some out :-)

  4. I'm coming to your house for Christmas! Already gave away all my Christmas cookies and fudge so there's not a cookie in sight. :(

  5. Oh wow, look at all those lovely delicious things!!! x

  6. those finnish spice cookies look sooooo good!

  7. Hi April,
    Loved all the yummy Christmas goodies but loved the English Tea cakes the most::)This is my first time here and I found you through Amy's place.You have a wonderful blog and I'm happily following you from now on - wish you Happy Holidays with family and friends!

  8. Thanks for all of the positive comments! Sheila~ I am glad to hear that the Pfeffernusse are glazed in Germany, we are enjoying them glazed :) Merry Christmas!

  9. Wish I could send you a platter Jane, I would hate to run out of cookies before Christmas!! I think the kids and hubby might riot if I gave them all away, but I do box up quite a bit of them, I already sent off some this morning, and more will go out the door tonight and tomorrow. Hope you have a chance to bake up another batch of your favorites :)

  10. Wow, April, these are just so warm and homey to me. Making cookies is just the coziest way to spend an afternoon! thank you for your kind words over at my blog.
    I am wondering if I could make the Russian tea cakes with whole wheat flour? They might not be as light, but I need to use the organic w.w. flour I have. Would you be willing to consider linking -up your wonderful posts regularly on Wednesdays thru Friday? We are slowly building a nice community there. It is for anything that would be encouraging to young wives and mothers! I would consider it a blessing to many ladies. Thank you!

  11. We love pfeffernusse over here. Great job, everything looks delicious and beautiful!

  12. Hi April! Thank you so much for all the links to these wonderful cookie recipes. I was just telling my husband today that I wish I could find some new interesting cookie recipes and here they are! :) I would especially like the try the raisin cookie, they look delicious and love just about anything with raisins. Have a peaceful and restful evening ahead! Delisa :)

  13. Thanks everyone for all of the nice comments! I am looking forward to doing a second cookie post tomorrow, and have been baking away all day.

    Jacqueline~ I would try making the Russian tea cakes with whole wheat, it would be a different taste, but probably still very yummy. I may have to pull out some of my whole wheat and make a mini batch because now I want to know too :) I have linked up to your link-up, and look forward to reading some of the other posts, thanks for inviting me!

  14. wow!!All of them look delicious....You have done a great job..Thanks a lot for linking with Midweek Fiesta Hope to see you on next week too….

  15. I love your little pig cookies--too cute!


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