Oma’s Christmas Cookies
These cookies, “Vanillen Kränzchen” – vanilla wreaths – were a must for Christmas as far back as I can remember.
Oma would prepare cookies sometimes weeks in advance.
Here is the recipes in Oma’s handwriting from a little slip of paper in her cook book.
Here is the translation:
2 sticks sweet butter and 2 tablespoons of salted [butter]
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 pound – 4 cups flour some vanilla [extract] or one grated lemon peel [zest]
Some notes: The spelling of “Gränzchen” is not an error but dialect – the dialect of the Donauschwaben pronounces most hard consonant in a much softer manner – so the “K” is pronounced more like a “G” in some words. Oma is using the word “cup” – she is trying to help the younger generation, when she baked in “olden” days she would weigh the ingredients – if she measured at all. You can see this also when she gets to vanilla.
Oma baked a variety of cookies, but the favorite has always been the this one.
You can see the Vanille Kränzchen on the top of the pile in the cookies painting from my school days in Sinsheim (yes, back in 1949).
I have tested the recipe until the cookies tasted like I remember. Here is my current version:
- 1 stick unsalted butter (= 1/4 pound = 113 g)
- 1 tablespoon salted butter (15 g)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (about 150 mL)
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 cups flour (about 47o mL)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (about 5 mL)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon peel (zest) (about 3 mL)
Cream butter. Add sugar, vanilla extract, lemon peel, yolks, combine. Add flour and combine well. Refrigerate dough to stiffen.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
Roll on floured sheet to about one quarter inch thickness. Use cookie cutter to cut shapes and place on floured baking sheet. The classic shape is circular with a hole (see drawing).
Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies should be just golden brown.
The classic version combines two cookies by filling with apricot jam, cherry jam, or orange marmalade.
Why the hole in the cookie?
Back in Schowe these cookies were also used as decorations on the Christmas tree. A string would be used to make a loop to hang them on the tree along with home-made candy, fancily wrapped. This memory I have recreated in the “Holiday Greetings” image.
The Christmas cookies a best enjoyed by inviting the whole family.
I just wish I could that.
Here is the best I can do: