Christmas cookies – From Germany, with love

If you saw my friend Elena Gustavson, you would never guess she’s Peruvian. Blonde with hazel/green eyes, she grew up in Oxapampa, a German settlement in the Amazon jungle, surrounded by Peru’s most luscious wilderness. German communities in the jungle are fascinating to visit, because it’s not everyday that one sees white, tall, blonde people in such an unlikely place; let alone the fact that they dress, eat, and live like Germans, and speak Spanish with a slight “charapa” (Amazonian) accent.

Now that Christmas is getting closer everyday, I remembered that Elena had given me, a long time ago, a few traditional cookie and pastry recipes prepared in her village starting in November. As would be expected, they are traditional German and Austrian recipes, and even though I requested the sweet ones, they also have several special Christmas stews, homemade pasta, and savory pastries.

At this time of the year, like in any small village with strong traditions, everyone gets together to help in the kitchen, decorate the house, prepare the Advent calendar, and dress up the Christmas tree. With the honey cookies above (libkuchen), they even make decorations for the tree. I may try  it this year!


Filled Rum Stripes

  • 5 ounces margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 12 ounces pastry flour
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Rum
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons candied orange peel


  • 2/3 cups confectioners´sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Rum


  1.  Beat margarine, egg, egg yolk, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla. Add flour, and when a dough is formed, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 360ºF.
  2. In a small bowl combine raisins, pecans, 1/2 cup sugar, honey, Rum, lime juice, and candied orange peel. Roll the dough and form two rectangles. Spread the fruit mixture in one rectangle, leaving 1/2 inch space in the borders. Cover with the remaining dough and press the borders to seal. Pinch with a fork.
  3. Bake for 25 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, make the glace combining confectioners´sugar and Rum. Drizzle over the pastry while hot. Cut in stripes when cool.
  5. Note: These are very fragile.



Honey cookies

  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups pastry flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup milk


  1. In a saucepan heat the honey with sugar, margarine, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt. Cool.
  2. When cool add the flour, egg and baking soda dissolved in the milk, and knead lightly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next day preheat the oven to 350ºF. Roll the dough using a rolling pin, cut with cookie cutters, and bake in greased baking trays or over Silpat, about 25 minutes.


  • 1/2 egg white
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners´sugar
  • Sprinkles


  1. With a wire whisk, beat the egg white and add confectioners´sugar, little by little. If you want to color the glace, add a few drops of vegetable coloring.
  2. Pour the glacé in a piping bag and decorate the cookies to your liking. Add sprinkles.
  3. Note: Bake these cookies up to a month in advance and store in tightly sealed cans. When recently baked, these cookies are hard but after a few days they are at their best, tender, fragrant and tasty.



Christmas flowers

  •  1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners´sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 1/2 cups pastry flour
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup ground almonds
  • Grated zest from 1 lemon
  • Candied cherries to garnish


  1. Beat butter and confectioners´sugar, egg, and vanilla until creamy. Add flour by hand, keading lightly, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Beat egg whites until firm, adding 4 tablespoons sugar, one by one, and continue beating for 2 minutes. Add the ground almonds and lemon zest. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  3. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough until 1/4 inch or less, cut flowers with a cookie cutter, and put in a greased baking sheet. Place 1/2 candied cherry on top of each cookie and some of the almond mixture. Bake for 25 minutes.




  1. freakin’ A! These cookies look so delicious. And the recipes are so doable!

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