The holiday are a time for indulgences of all kinds—gifts, champagne, and lots of sweet treats. One of our favorites every year, though, are the plethora of cookies in all shapes and sizes, from all across the globe. While we may favor the simple sugar cookie (maybe a jam thumbprint just because), other regions have their own take on the holiday treat. Now’s the perfect time to try them all, right?
Made with cream cheese dough and stuffed most often with fruits, nuts, poppy seed paste, jam, or chocolate, rugelach are the traditional Hanukkah cookie devoured around the world, but particularly in Israel and New York. You can find these treats year-round, too. They’re that good.
These small, round sugar cookies are often served during the holidays at Christmas markets throughout various European countries. In Norway, they’re called Pepperkaker, in Sweden, Pepparnotter, and in Denmark, Pebarnodder. They’re named for the black pepper that hints at a subtle spicy flavor, in addition to cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger.
Though we now find it year round (in those cute little tins), this supremely buttery and tender Scottish cookie was historically associated with Christmas and Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve). They are often pressed into decorative molds, but can also be made in simple rounds or wedges.
These round, dense Spanish holiday cookies are made with a rich dough, usually laced with nuts (often almonds), and rolled in powdered sugar before baking. They’re mostly baked in Andalusia (southern Spain), but are popular across the country.
With a texture reminiscent of the macaroon, pignolis are a holiday staple in Italy—Sicily in particular, as that’s where they were first created. Made with few, choice ingredients, these chewy cookies are covered in sweet, nutty pine nuts, and pack a rich, almond punch.
These Greek cookies are melt-in-your mouth perfection thanks to their high butter content and powdered sugar coating. They’re eaten throughout the year, from christenings to weddings, but at Christmastime, they’re baked with a clove inserted in the top to symbolize the rare spices brought to Christ by the Magi. Festive and delicious.
Moravian Christmas Cookies
Made with ginger and molasses, these super thin, crisp cookies hail from Moravia, a region of the Czech Republic. They’re also popular in United States Moravian settlements like in Old Salem, North Carolina, where they honor the sweet tradition during the holidays.
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