These crisp, short, buttery cookies are eaten a lot in the Christmas season in the Netherlands.
by Ena Scheerstra
Kerstkransjes (literally little Christmas wreaths) are traditional Dutch Christmas cookies. Just after sinterklaas they appear in the shops in many different varieties. But actually they are really easy to make at home! They are a perfect little project to do on a rainy sunday afternoon with kids, but the recipe is fast and easy enough to do even on a busy weekday evening when you fancy something sweet, tasty and seasonal. It is also very nice to make a big batch and divide the cookies over several small bags tied with a nice ribbon and label: the perfect hostess gift for these busy December times.
Kerstkransjes can have many different toppings. I like them best sprinkled with some granulated sugar before baking, a very simple finish. But coarser sugar and sliced almonds are also very common. After baking you can drizzle the kransjes with or dip them in chocolate (dark/milk/white), and sprinkle some sprinkles on top for a colourful finish. Usually they are shaped as scalloped wreaths (hence the name), but also with smooth edges, or even in the shape of stars and Christmas trees.
Some people like to hang kerstkransjes in their Christmas tree as a decoration, using ribbon to attach them to the branches, but I don’t. It is just too easy to sneakily eat them all, leaving a tree behind with only empty ribbons, which means that you have to bake some new kerstkransjes (or have them baked and stashed away already). A bigger problem is that you actually need to eat all the cookies from the tree very fast to prevent them from getting soft and soggy… So I prefer to keep these cookies in a cookie jar and decorate my Christmas tree with non-edible stuff.
- 150 g flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- 75 g sugar
- pinch of salt
- zest of ¼ lemon and/or ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 125 g cold butter, small cubes
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg white
- 60 g granulated sugar (or slivered almonds, or coarse sugar)
- Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and lemon zest/vanilla together.
- Add the cubes of butter, rub in with your fingertips.
- Add the egg yolk, knead fast to a dough, taking care not to overwork.
- Shape the dough in a disk, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 170C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Roll out the rested dough to 3 mm.
- Cut out cookies with a circular scalloped cookie cutter (6 cm) and take out the middle with a small circular cookie cutter.
- Place them on the lined baking tray.
- Re-rol the scraps and form into cookies.
- Place the cookies, and the scraps as well (re-rolling them again would make them tough) on the baking tray.
- Use a pastry brush to brush some egg white on the cookies.
- Sprinkle the cookies with the sugar.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake 15-20 minutes, until golden.
- Leave the cookies a few minutes on the baking tray to cool, then transfer to a rack to cool further.