The following are the recipes from my most recent newsletter on holiday cookies (newsletter is at ruhlman.substack.com—hope you'll subscribe!). The following words from from friend Emilia one why this cookie is important. All are part of her bookie repertoire.
Cookie time is upon us again and every family has their traditional holiday cookies. This year I wanted to highlight my chef friend and culinary sister Larissa Popa’s Christmas Hungarian kifli. During this interesting year I got to spend my “outdoor” time with her on a local farm she tends. Typically the two of us are cooking up a storm, making eastern European specialties like stuffed cabbage, pierogi, paprikash and various noodles. Instead it consisted of planting veggies, weeding, tending to chickens, ducks, guinea hens, cattle, unruly sheep, and one adorable calf.
I wanted to highlight her recipe and her story because it mirrors my family. She made these walnut kifli with her mom during Christmas. Larissa recalls prepping these cookies with her. Grinding the walnuts, the special kifli scoop (a melon baller), seasoning the walnut filling, debating between golden raisins and dried currants and the worn wooden rolling pin every immigrant mom or grandmother would wield. This cookie recipe she shared with me two years ago is now one of my favorites.
- 3 cups flour
- pinch salt
- 8 oz butter room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- zest from 2 lemons
- 2 tbls sugar (plus 2 cups for filling)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3.5 cups walnuts, ground for the stuffing not too finely ground
- ⅔ cups raisins
- 2 cups sugar noted above
- 1-2 lemons, juiced add lemon juice to filling to taste
- pinch salt again, this for the filling
- powdered sugar for rolling and dusting
- egg wash one yolk mixed with 2 tbls milk, optional
- First make the dough: Sift flour and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- In a 5 quart standing mixer with a paddle attachment, add cream cheese, butter sugar and lemon zest. Paddle on medium high speed for 3-5 minutes until creamy. Scrape side and pour in vanilla, cream for another 2 minutes.
- Reduce speed of the mixer and then slowly sift in the flour mixture. Add the flour in 3 additions, to allow the flour to be fully mixed in each time. Once done adding all the flour, the cookie dough will be soft, but not sticky on your hands.
- Begin to scoop out teaspoon sized kifli dough balls, roll to make a sphere/ball and place on a ½ sheet tray lined with parchment or silpat. Once all the dough is formed into balls, wrap tray in plastic wrap and put in the cooler overnight.
- Next make the filling (it can be done the day before and refrigerated. In medium bowl pour in ground walnuts, golden rasins, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and combine.
- Season mixture with a pinch of salt. Adjust filling to taste, add more lemon if needed, more sugar or salt. You can even add your favorite warm spice (cardamom, nutmeg, all-spice) or just keep it simple and traditional. Use or refrigerate until reading to finish the cookies.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F./ 177 degrees C.
- Prepare to roll out the kifli balls by clearing a space on your counter, dust surface with powdered sugar and use a rolling pin. Grab walnut filling mixture and spoon.
- Remove the sheet tray from the cooler with the kifli dough balls and begin rolling flat disks out of the balls. Roll each round as thin as possible or 1/16”, but be sure the dough can be moved and hold the filling.
- Once the ball is rolled into a circle/oval, about the size of your palm, place a small line of the filling near the end closet to you. Be sure to leave a space on the edges.
- When the filling is evenly spread start rolling the kifli up, place the edge of the dough closet to you and then delicately roll up. You do not need to tightly roll the kifli. Once rolled, leave the seam side down, then shape into a “u” shape or “horn” and pinch the ends.
- Place the kifli “horn” “U” onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Be sure to leave about 1” in between each kilfi. Egg wash if desired.
- Bake kifli for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and slightly puffed. Remove kulfi from oven, cool on tray for 10 minutes, then place on cooling rack.
- Once cooled dust with powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy with coffee, tea or hot cocoa. Bet you can’t each just one!
Cardamom Ginger Coconut Cookies
- 1 cup cake flour
- ¾ cup bread flower
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ + ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup unsalted butter room temp
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoons ground coriander
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons minced crystalized ginger
- ¾ cup shredded coconut
- Sift the two flours, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together.
- In a standing 5-quart mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, the two sugars, and the three dry spices. Paddle on medium-high speed until it's light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the egg and vanilla and paddle until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Paddle on low and add the minced ginger. Pour in the spiced flour mixture and paddle on low speed, then the coconut and paddle just to combine.
- Once the dough has come together, cover and let it rest for at least 4 hours or refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C. Scoop out tablespoon-size cookies onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Spiced Pecan Thumbprints with Cajeta
- 1 cup unsalted butter (two sticks) room temp
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground anise
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flower
- 1 cup ground pecans
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 quart goat's milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F./163 degrees C.
- In a standing 5-quart mixer with the paddle attachment, begin to cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and anise. Paddle on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and paddle for 30 seconds to incorporate into sugar butter mixture.
- In a separate bowl stir together the flour, salt and ground pecans, then add to the sugar butter mixture. Paddle at low speed until the dough comes together.
- Line two sheet tray with parchment paper or silpats. Begin to scoop out tablespoon sized balls of dough and roll into balls. Once all the dough is formed into balls place them two inches apart and then press your thumb into the middle of the ball.
- Bake for 10 minutes; then remove from oven and press center of the cookies down again with a small round spoon. (back of your measuring spoons)
- Return to oven and bake for 10-14 minutes more.
- Allow to cool for 15 minutes then drizzle the caramel in the indentations in the cookies.
- In cup combine the baking soda and cornstarch with two tablespoons of water (slurry) and set aside.
- Using a large sauce pot pour in the goat’s milk and sugar. Place on medium high heat stir until all the sugar dissolves.
- Now stir in the slurry and increase to medium high heat. Bring milk to a boil, keep stirring and be careful not to boil over.
- Stir and watch the milk mixture for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until the milk transforms into a golden caramel.
- Once color and consistency is reached allow the caramel to cool. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 month in a sealed container.
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) room temp
- 3 eggs
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3.5 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- In a standing 5-quart mixer with the paddle attachment, begin to cream together the butter and the sugar. Paddle on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
- Add in the eggs one at a time and vanilla and paddle until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Paddle until eggs and vanilla are incorporated, next add the sour cream. Paddle for 1 minute more on medium speed and be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
- Pour in the dry ingredients on low speed and paddle until the dough comes together. This cookie dough is very sticky. Refrigerate at least for 4 hours or overnight.
- On a heavily floured surface, begin to roll out your dough. Be sure to flour the top of the dough and the rolling pin. Roll to ¼ inch thick and cut in your favorite shapes. Place cookies on sheet trays lined with parchment paper or silpats. Bake at 350 degrees F./177 degrees C. for 10-12 minutes. Cookies should poof a bit and have a cake like consistency.
- Cool and decorate as desired.
Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies
- 3 cups hazelnut flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temp
- ¼ cup shortening
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 jar raspberry preserves as needed
- Preheat your oven to 350°F/177°C.
- Sift the hazelnut flour, salt, and baking soda together.
- Put the cream the butter, shortening, the two sugars, and the cinnamon in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment and blend on medium-high until it's light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Or do the same in a large bowl with a hand blender.)
- Add the eggs and mix on medium until they're incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Turn the mixer to low and pour in the dry ingredients, and continue to mix till combined.
- Scoop teaspoon-sized cookies onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool.
- Spread a thin layer of raspberry preserves on each cookie and sandwich another on top. together.
Mayan Chocolate Cookies
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ¼ cups all purpose flower
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter room temp
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 egg
Cinnamon Sugar Sprinkle
- 2 tbsp sugar mixed with ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 176°C.
- Sift the cocoa, cayenne, chili powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and flour together in a bowl.
- In a standing 5-quart mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for a minute to soften, and then add the sugar and beat for 3 more minutes. Paddle until the butter is light and fluffy, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add the egg to the butter and beat for another minute.
- Stir in the flour/spice mixture until the flour is just incorporated. Remove the dough, place in plastic wrap, and let chill for 45 minutes in the refrigerator.
- On a parchment-lined sheet tray, scoop out tablespoons of dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar on top and then bake the cookies for 12 minutes.
- Remove the cookies from the oven, cool for 10 minutes, and enjoy.
Langues de Chat - Cat’s Tongues
- 1 stick plus 2 tbsp butter room temp
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 4 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 390°F/180°C.
- In a standing 5-quart mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. The butter should look light and fluffy. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- One by one, add the egg whites and then the vanilla to the creamed butter. Add a white, beat for 30 seconds, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and repeat.
- Sift the flour and salt a few times so there are no lumps. Slowly mix in the flour into the butter mixture.
- Using a pastry bag with a #2 tip, fill the bag with the cookie batter and pipe on to a sheet tray that is lightly buttered or onto a silpat. Be sure to leave 2 inches between the cookies as you pipe, as they do spread a little.
- Bake the cookies until a nice golden brown appears on the edges, about 12–15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely.