Our Favorite Christmas Cookies from around the World

Christmas season is upon us, and one of our favorite holiday traditions is baking cookies a few days before Christmas with our extended family. It's a time to catch up and make memories, as well as cookies, which when packaged with care, make excellent gifts for friends and family. Another tradition is baking cookies and recipes from the homeland – Sweden, Poland, Ireland, France, Germany – along with classics like butter cut out cookies, chocolate peanut butter blossoms, and peppermint bark. 

We've curated a selection of our favorite International Cookie recipes so you can easily bring a taste of your ancestry to your next family gathering this Christmas. 

Recipes: Italian Biscotti, Russian Tea Cakes, Swedish Gingerbread Cookies, and French Chocolate Madeleines. 

 

  Italian Cinnamon and Hazelnut Biscotti:  Makes 50 cookies 3 eggs 1 1/4 cups sugar 1/2 cup olive oil Zest of 1 lemon 3 3/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting 1 teaspoon baking powder Pinch of salt 2 teaspoons bittersweet cocoa powder 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon 7 ounces whole peeled hazelnuts or almonds, roughly chopped in half Directions: Preheat the oven to 350° F . Beat together the eggs and sugar. Add oil and blend until creamy. Add the lemon zest and the dry ingredients (except for the nuts) and combine to form a dough. If it's too sticky to handle, carefully add a little more flour. Add the nuts towards the end. You should have a soft dough. With floured hands, divide the dough into 6 portions and roll these into 1 inch-thick logs. Place them on 2 baking trays lined with baking paper with plenty of space between them for spreading. Bake 20 minutes. They should appear dry and cooked and are usually cracked along the top but not browned. Remove them from the oven, let cool for several minutes. When cool enough to handle, slice with a heavy, sharp knife (not serrated) into 1/2 inch-thick biscotti. Return the biscotti to the oven to dry out ever so slightly, about 5 minutes.

 

Italian Cinnamon and Hazelnut Biscotti: 

Makes 50 cookies

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

Zest of 1 lemon

3 3/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons bittersweet cocoa powder

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

7 ounces whole peeled hazelnuts or almonds, roughly chopped in half

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F .

Beat together the eggs and sugar. Add oil and blend until creamy. Add the lemon zest and the dry ingredients (except for the nuts) and combine to form a dough. If it's too sticky to handle, carefully add a little more flour. Add the nuts towards the end. You should have a soft dough.

With floured hands, divide the dough into 6 portions and roll these into 1 inch-thick logs. Place them on 2 baking trays lined with baking paper with plenty of space between them for spreading.

Bake 20 minutes. They should appear dry and cooked and are usually cracked along the top but not browned.

Remove them from the oven, let cool for several minutes. When cool enough to handle, slice with a heavy, sharp knife (not serrated) into 1/2 inch-thick biscotti. Return the biscotti to the oven to dry out ever so slightly, about 5 minutes.

  Russian Tea Cookies:  1 cup butter  1/2 cup powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour  3/4 cup finely chopped Macadamia nuts 1/4 teaspoon salt Powdered sugar for coating  Directions:  Heat oven to 400ºF.  Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

 

Russian Tea Cookies: 

1 cup butter 

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 

3/4 cup finely chopped Macadamia nuts

1/4 teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar for coating 

Directions: 

Heat oven to 400ºF. 

Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together. 

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.

Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

  Pepparkakor// Swedish Gingerbread Cookies:  3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons ground ginger 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons ground cloves 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup dark corn syrup 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces 1 cup sugar 1 large egg, lightly beaten Pearl sugar (for dusting) Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt. In a small saucepan over moderate heat, warm the corn syrup and orange zest. Add the butter and sugar and continue warming, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Add the egg and whisk to combine. Pour over the flour mixture and stir to combine. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap, and chill overnight. Arrange racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with nonstick baking mats,  or parchment paper. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out a portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/4 inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into desired shapes, such as circles, stars, hearts, bells, gingerbread men, and Christmas trees. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets and sprinkle with the pearl sugar. Bake, switching the cookies between the upper and lower racks and rotating the baking sheets about halfway through baking, until the edges are just beginning to brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Watch the cookies carefully to make sure they don't get too brown. Let the cookies cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to let cool completely. Continue rolling and cutting out the rest of the cookie dough and baking the cookies on cooled baking sheets.

 

Pepparkakor// Swedish Gingerbread Cookies: 

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Pearl sugar (for dusting)

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt.

In a small saucepan over moderate heat, warm the corn syrup and orange zest. Add the butter and sugar and continue warming, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Add the egg and whisk to combine. Pour over the flour mixture and stir to combine. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

Arrange racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with nonstick baking mats,  or parchment paper.

Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out a portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/4 inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into desired shapes, such as circles, stars, hearts, bells, gingerbread men, and Christmas trees. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets and sprinkle with the pearl sugar. Bake, switching the cookies between the upper and lower racks and rotating the baking sheets about halfway through baking, until the edges are just beginning to brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Watch the cookies carefully to make sure they don't get too brown.

Let the cookies cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to let cool completely. Continue rolling and cutting out the rest of the cookie dough and baking the cookies on cooled baking sheets.

  Chocolate Madeleines:  ½ cup butter ⅔ cup sugar 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate 1 teaspoon vanilla 3 eggs 1 cup flour ½ teaspoon baking powder Directions: Melt the butter and chocolate over a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Cool Add the vanilla, eggs, and sugar. Whisk until smooth. Fold in flour and baking powder. The batter will be thick. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours. Spray the madeleine pan with cooking spray. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 13 minutes. Flip the cookies out and cool on a rack. 

 

Chocolate Madeleines: 

½ cup butter

⅔ cup sugar

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

Melt the butter and chocolate over a double boiler.

Stir until smooth. Cool

Add the vanilla, eggs, and sugar.

Whisk until smooth.

Fold in flour and baking powder.

The batter will be thick. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

Spray the madeleine pan with cooking spray. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 13 minutes.

Flip the cookies out and cool on a rack.