Cooking is my passion. It is one activity at which I can spend a great deal of time and effort and leave the endeavor feeling thoroughly refreshed. This is a collection of recipes, menus, restaurant reviews, and so on. Enjoy! If you would like to see photographs from this year's cookie day, please click here.

There are many memories that surround the celebration of Christmass in the home. In my father and mother's house these were bound up in the usual tree, a creche, the carols that my father would play on Christmass Eve following services (before we opened the presents), and the odd collection of candles and other decorations that seemed to build up over time.

There is one item, however, that seemed totally unique - solely ours. That was the cookies that accompanied our celebration. From my father's mother, Großmama, there would arrive a box of wonders. Some of them were cookie-press cookies, but other than those were the delights that came from her German background. From my mother's mother came another wonderful treat - a favorite of my mother's that she made year after year. I owe a word of thanks to my mother, Ruth Terrass Hiller, who lovingly transcribed the recipes from her mother and from her mother-in-law by hand so that each of her children could have them. To this day, when people serve up chocolate chip cookies, or other "ordinary" cookies, I am grateful for the wonderful tradition that was passed on to us.

Here are the recipes for these wonderful cookies. I hope that you enjoy them as you ponder, like the Blessed Virgin Mary, the wonders of the Christchild.


from Großmama Hiller

12 Eggs

2 # powdered sugar

Stir for one hour by hand (sure!) or for 15 minutes using an electric mixer. Then add:

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons melted butter.

To this add (and here's where these old recipes become difficult - but then cooking is an art) enough flour mixed with:

3 teaspoons of baking powder

to make a stiff batter. Roll out and press with springerly molds, cut, and let stand out over night. In the morning the bottom of each cookie with cream. Bake in buttered pans which have been sprinkled with anise seed. Bake in a slow oven.

My mother's final note: "Make real stiff!"


from Großmama Hiller

4 eggs

1 # powdered sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

4 1/2 cups sifted flour

Drops of anise oil (or extract) to taste

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Beat eggs until light, add sugar and beat, then add rind and flour. Mix well and chill 1 hour. Roll out, mould, cut, and place on cookie sheet overnight, exposed to air. Bake in moderate 350º oven for 30 minutes or until a delicate brown. Grease cookie sheet slightly.


from Grandma Terrass

5 eggs

2 cups sugar

1/4 # citron

1/4 # almonds

2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine the ingredients to form a stiff dough. Roll out in the evening, and spread white of egg on top. Bake the next day at 375º.

These were clearly my mother's favorite Christmass cookie. I have to agree - they're great with a cup of coffee in the morning.


from Großmama Hiller

This cookie was my father's all-time favorite. It is really not a cookie, more like a confection. And it's use as a Christmass cookie probably is not what was intended by the wonderful Jewish bakers who came up with this treat. It is a very difficult cookie to make. I've had to resort to adding flour just to get a stiff enough batter. Refrigeration and chilling of the batter is absolutely essential. If you take the time and effort, you will have a wonderful treat.

The recipe narrative is from my Großmama's hand (parenthesis, mine):

To 8 egg whites, well beaten, add 1 # sifted sugar. Fill a saucer with (some of) this mixture and set aside to glaze the stars later. To the first mixture add 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 1/2 # finely ground almonds, unblanched. (I refrigerate the mixture at this point - for up to a day). Roll, not too thin, cut out with star-shaped cookie cutter. After baking, glaze with the mixture set aside for this purpose, and return to the oven for 1-2 minutes, leaving oven door open. 325º.

The baking time should be around eight minutes. You may wish to consult this recipe for other tips.


from Großmama Hiller

My sisters and I agree that this recipe was probably invented by either my großmama, or some other thrifty person to use up all the egg yolks resulting from the previous recipe. This one is devilishly difficult to form.

1/4 # butter

1/4 # flour

1/3 # sugar

Mix these ingredients and then add either:

grated rind of 1 lemon


1 teaspoon of vanilla

or use both! Roll into pencil lengths, cut strips, and shape into an "S". Let stand for 1 hour, and then place on greased and floured pans. Bake in a moderate oven until lightly brown.


from Großmama Hiller


I don't know how German this recipe is. I found the picture for crescents on the web site of The Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross, in Belmont, California. (Go visit, the icons are truly wonderful there). At any rate, my großmama's recipe involves ground almonds, which may make it a different cookie. The kourambiedes described by the Greeks only involves sugar, butter, and flour - the roots however must be the same.

14 oz. sweet butter

3/4 cup sugar

7 oz. blanched and ground almonds

3 cups of flour

Mix the ingredients and then knead and shape into crescents. Bake on a greased tin in a moderate oven.

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

When cookies are baked and slightly cooled, dip them into this mixture.


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MTH 11/28/05