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During the holidays, families everywhere gather and celebrate in many unique ways. One common tradition is baking and enjoying Christmas cookies! From gingerbread to chocolate chips, families have special recipes for their favorite holiday treats. Handed down from previous generations, these recipes help bring families together at Christmastime. Although this year is different and we are gathering together on Zoom, we can still bake! We hope you enjoy these unique recipes and spread Christmas joy from our families to yours!
Norwegian Krullers — Mary Ellen
In the McDermott family, it isn’t Christmas without Norwegian Krullers! Every year, we gather at my paternal grandmother’s house for Christmas Eve. After dinner, we always share different types of cookies that my grandmother bakes. One of these is the Norwegian Kruller, or Krumkake in Norwegian. This treat celebrates our Norwegian heritage and has been in my family for generations. Our recipe dates back to my great-grandmother, Gladys Vellenga, who passed it down to my grandmother. This Norwegian treat has become a family tradition enjoyed at Christmastime ever since.
How to make Norwegian Krullers
*A Kruller press is needed to make this recipe.
3 eggs, well beaten
½ cup of sugar, mix well with eggs
½ cup of melted butter
½ cup and 1 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
Mix the batter well (use a whisk for lumps).
Before making the Krullers, you may want to wait a few seconds for best results.
Place the Kruller iron over a stove burner on medium to medium high heat. (You may need to adjust the heat. If the Kruller is dark brown, lower your heat.)
Put a teaspoon of batter on the Kruller iron. Squeeze the handles and turn the iron over after a few seconds. Wait for a few more seconds.
Open the iron and take off the Kruller. Lay it on a flat surface. Then, quickly roll the Kruller on a cylinder. Do not remove the cylinder until the Kruller sticks together on the bottom side.
Let the Kruller cool and repeat steps for every Kruller you make.
Courtesy of the McDermott family
Classic Sugar Cookies — Kate Nonnenkamp
These cookies have been a Christmas tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. A few days before Christmas, my entire family sits down at our kitchen table. We have a rainbow of colors of buttercream frosting and sprinkles in front of us. For the next several hours, we will decorate cookie people, churches, stockings, and more. By the end, our hands are vastly different colors-products of the food coloring in the frosting. As of late, each year has a theme. Last year was Star Wars, the year before was Harry Potter.
This recipe is from a cookbook full of my mother’s family’s recipes. It’s called “The Best Seasons of Our Lives.” It contains recipes from my aunts and uncles, my great grandmother, and my own mom. A lot of my family’s favorite holiday recipes come from this book.
Despite our love of crazy designs, these cookies can be decorated any way you want! I recommend topping them with buttercream frosting, which is very easy to make. This is a good recipe.
How to make Sugar Cookies
*Cookie cutters are needed for this recipe.
⅔ cup butter, softened
⅔ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
Cream butter and sugar together, then beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time.
Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to the other mixture with vanilla. Beat until thoroughly mixed.
Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Then, roll (about ¼ inch thick) and cut the dough into desired shapes.
Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are very lightly browned.
Vanilla Gems — Mary Ellen
Another cookie important to my family is the Vanilla Gem, which my mom makes every year at Christmas. We often leave these out for Santa on Christmas Eve and eat them for breakfast on Christmas morning. This recipe was passed down from my great-grandmother, Ellen Huesman, to my maternal grandmother. These cookies have become a Christmas tradition as well as a family favorite.
This cookie, although simple, can be decorated in many different ways. We usually top each Vanilla Gem with a candied cherry. You can change the forming design plate on the cookie press to make a Christmas tree, star, or other shape. My grandmother uses the Christmas tree shape and sprinkles colored sugar on them. One of my aunts adds food dye to make the gems more colorful. Whichever way you choose to decorate them, they are a simple but sweet treat!
How to make Vanilla Gems
*A cookie press is needed to make this recipe.
1 ¼ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
3 ¼ cups flour
Cream the butter and sugar, add eggs and beat thoroughly. Then, add flour gradually to form a soft dough.
Add dough to the cookie press. Using the desired forming plate, press cookies onto the baking sheet.
Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes at 375 degrees.
Courtesy of McDermott family
Peppermint Meringues — Kate Nonnenkamp
This is one of my favorite Christmas recipes. A meringue is a cloud-like cookie made primarily of egg whites. It’s soft and sticky, sweet and a little sharp. The juxtaposition of flavors make a perfect little treat. Meringues have also taken their own meaning to me as well. They are the centerpiece for many pastries I’ve tried. Now, whenever I make macarons, I remember coming downstairs on Christmas Eve and smelling the sweet smell of candy canes and sugar.
My family has several variations of the cookie, including chocolate and vanilla, but the peppermint version sticks most to the holiday spirit. If you’d like to make a chocolate cookie, substitute the candy canes with miniature chocolate chips. If you’d like to make a vanilla one, omit the candy canes altogether.
How to make Peppermint Meringues
*Piping bags can be substituted with ziploc bags
4 egg whites, room temperature
¼ tsp salt
1 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 cup crushed candy canes
Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add salt and beat for 1 minute.
While beating, slowly pour in sugar, then vanilla, then cream of tartar. Beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
Fold in the crushed candy canes.
Using a pastry bag with a large, round tip, pipe mounds about 1 ½ inches wide.
Bake in a 300°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until light golden brown and hard on top. Let cool for at least 15 minutes.
We hope that your holiday is filled with all the treats that you enjoy! Even though this Christmas is different, we can still find comfort in our family recipes. We hope you enjoy your own family’s recipes and maybe try out some new ones, and don’t forget to leave a plate out for Santa on Christmas Eve!