St Nicholas Cookies and Gingerbread Houses

The Feast of St. Nicholas is almost upon us!  And again, I am trying out new cookies from this collection of St. Nicholas Cookies!

You will want to visit The St. Nicholas Center and you may want to check out what cookies I made from the cookie collection last year!

But before revealing which cookies I baked this year, I wanted to share a couple tips.

Many of the St. Nicholas Cookie recipes in this collection do not use ginger but rather unusual spices like Mace, Allspice, Cardamon and ground Anise.  But who wants to stock up on a bunch of spices they use once a year - during which time  what is left in the jars deteriorates. 

I purchase the small jars available from Penzys Spices - my favorite spice resource - and then store them in the freezer once holiday baking is done.  So far, I have found little if any loss in quality.

Freshly grated nutmeg is always best!  Purchase a little grater designed just for grating nutmeg and order whole nutmeg from Penzeys Spices.

Grate your nutmeg over a piece of wax paper.

When you are done grating, simply form the wax paper into a funnel for easy transfer to the measuring spoon.

Any left over nutmeg can be transfered to a storage container and popped into the freezer!  I use a spice container with holes in the lid for sprinkling egg nog!

Use this wax paper trick when grinding black pepper too!

Now introducing my 2009  St. Nicholas Cookies!

Speculaas Koekjes (Dutch Spice Cookies)

This is the very first cookie recipe on the St. Nicholas Center cookie page. It was created by a 13 year old blue ribbon winner!  So why wouldn't I give it a try!

Although the cookie dough is a bit soft, it really is a dream to work with when placing it into a cookie mold.  Unfortunately, despite my plan to order the perfect cookie mold for my cookies this year, I am again using a mold designed for baking shortbread!  But it worked just fine.

All those little designs show up!  I will definitely use this recipe when I do get my mold.  The cookies, like so many in the collection, improve with age.  But I think next time I make them, I may not use the mace or allspice.

Ukrainian Christmas Honey Cookies were a huge hit with my husband! 

They are so easy to make - you don't even have to refrigerate the dough before cutting!

 Mix the honey, eggs and orange peel together.

In another bowl, mix all the dry ingredients - flour, confectioners sugar, and spices.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients, roll out, cut and bake!

And just look how pretty they are!

This is a cookie that should be made a couple weeks ahead and stored in a canister with an apple slice sitting on top in a piece of wax paper.  The cookies soften and the flavors blend - citrus and spice and honey - and ... well you saw the nearly empty tin already! 

They may not appeal to children's taste for sugar but adults seem to really like them. But beware, don't try them right out of the oven - you will probably be disappointed. Put them away with a bit of apple and let them mellow.

And for all of you who missed it last year, here is the link to my Gingerbread house post 2008

Within the post are links to some great sites offering recipes, instructions for making templates, step by step assembly and decorating tips.

Thank you Rachel for your e-mail last night requesting information about building gingerbread houses.  You reminded me to share this link! 

And what better time to share anything gingerbread than during the Feast of St. Nicholas!

NOTES ADDED after posting!

All recipes for St. Nicholas Cookies from this post and the post last year are to be found in the first link in this post to the cookie recipe collection at the St. Nicholas Center.

If you have children in your family, probably the best St. Nicholas Cookie to bake as their introduction to St. Nicholas Day would be the St. Nikolaus Speculatius (Kris Kringle) Cookies.  It is a crisp, lightly spiced sugar type cookie given to the center by Maria Von Trapp - Sound of Music fame. The recipe is included in the St. Nicholas Center cookie recipe collection and pictures are in my 2008 post. These cookies were perfect for my vintage cookie cutters!

Last year I received the comment below regarding the Dutch Spice Cookie Pepernoten which is thrown in the door by St. Nicholas' helper just before St Nicholas arrives with gifts for the children.

"Peppernuts are a holiday

Peppernuts are a holiday staple in this part of the world (south central KS) Lots of German Mennonites. I love the ones that actually melt in your mouth!

Can anyone help with such a recipe??  I like the flavor of Pepernoten but would love to find one that "melts in your mouth"!

My students and I are making

My students and I are making gingerbread houses next week. I'll be sure to get lots of pictures!

I love your cookie advice,

I love your cookie advice, info, and recipes! Thank you so much. The cookie mold is so adorable. I have some norwegian cookie making implements (a spritz press, rosette iron, krumkake iron, and a couple of tart tins for making sandkakes), but nothing as cool as that mold! :)

I haven't played with any of

I haven't played with any of these in years and years - except for the spritz And I have never played with a Krumkake iron!  Is it anything like a Pizzelle baker??

I think we might want to think about a cookie baking day for next season - for Santa Lucia Day!

That would be fun! I would

That would be fun! I would love to!

Yum! These cookies look so

Yum! These cookies look so goooood!

And here's another spice tip I discovered as I shopped for the spices for the gingerbread houses (more on that later ... ;) I was out of some run-of-the-mill spices like ground ginger and ground cloves & needed cream of tar tar, but when I checked our baking aisle, they were OUT. Completely, 100% out. I was crushed & figured it was a sign I didn't need to bother making the gingerbread houses. Then I stumbled down the bulk food aisle, and WOWZA! I hit the spice motherlode. They had dozens of spices (including all the ones I needed) and what was better is that I could measure out just about what I needed into a little plastic bag. Each one cost under $.50! I don't bake a lot, and often have spices just sitting in my cabinet for AGES, so this was a revelation for me. Being able to buy just what I need, for so little and keep things fresh was a big score in my book.

I'll be updating you soon on my gingerbread adventures. Your email and post were absolutely invaluable! THANK YOU! :)

Thank you, Rachel, for

Thank you, Rachel, for reminding me about the "spice motherlode" in the bulk foods aisle!  And I appreciate you sharing that tip here for others to see.

The bulk food aisle is a great solution for buying those seldom used spices as well as dried plums, apricots, pineapple, cherries, cranberries and raisins that we use in our holiday breads like Stollen and Panettoni.  AND NUTS too!  Since nuts are so expensive right now, buying only what you are going to actually need, is huge.

And thanks for reminding me to link to my Gingerbread House post from 2008!  There really is a lot of helpful information in that post!

That mold is beautiful. The

That mold is beautiful. The honey cookies sound really tasty too! Any chance that you could e-mail me that recipe? xo -S

Sarah, the recipe can be

Sarah, the recipe can be found by linking to the very first link in the post to the cookie recipe page at the St. Nicholas Center. 

The Ukranian Honey Cookies is listed third from the bottom and the Dutch Spice Cookie is the very first listed.

I tried several others from this list last year, my favorite was the St. Nikolaus Speculatius Cookies - a lovely, lightly spiced German cookie recipe from Maria Von Trapp. 

The recipe from Maria Von Trapp would be my recommendation for households with children.  They really are delicious!

Today's post was just

Today's post was just wonderful!!!!!
I have been looking for a new cookie to make this year and I found it. Both of the cookies in your post will be on my table by Christmas....and, a big THANK YOU for the link to St. Nicholas. His holy day is one I hold very dear to my heart.

Thank you, Nancy,  for your

Thank you, Nancy,  for your lovely note!  Be sure, you bake the St. Nikolaus Speculatius (Kris Kringle) Cookies by Maria Von Trapp.  The recipe is also in the collention from the St. Nicholas Center.  Theses are still my favorites and that cookie tin emptied out even faster than it did when filled with  the Ukrainian Honey Cookies!