Modern American style Christmas cookies.
Modern Christmas Cookies can trace their history to recipes from Medieval Europe biscuits, which when many modern ingredients such as cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, almonds and dried fruit were introduced into the west. By the 1500s Christmas biscuits had become popular across Europe, with lebkuchen being favoured in Germany and papparkakor in Sweden, while in Norway krumkake were popular.
The earliest examples of Christmas cookies in the United States were brought by the Dutch in the early 1600s. Due to a wide range of cheap imported products from Germany between 1871 and 1906 following a change to importation laws, cookie cutters became available in American markets. These imported cookies cutters often depicted highly stylised images with subjects designed to hang on Christmas trees. Due to the availability of these utensils, recipes began to appear in cookbooks designed to use them.
Gingerbread has existed in some form since sugars and spices were brought back to Europe from soldiers in the Crusades. However it wasn’t until Queen Victoria and Prince Albert included it with a variety of other German Christmas traditions that the gingerbread cookies became primarily associated with Christmas.
A traditional cookie which dates from the Middle ages in Norway. Fattigmann cookies are deep fried in unsalted fat.
Five cone shaped Krumkaker.
Krumkake are centuries old cookies from Norway. They were originally baked over open fires using decorative irons, however modern cooks use electric or stovetop irons to bake these wafer-thin biscuits. Krumkake are wrapped in a cone shape, and are named for the crumbles left in your hand after taking the first bite.
Pepparkakor are crisp, thin gingersnap biscuits from Sweden, traditionally cut out in flower and heart shapes.
Pfeffernsse originate in Scandinavia and date from medieval times when spices were used exclusively in holiday baking.
A traditional Austrian Springerle
Springerle have been traditional Christmas cookies in Bavaria and Austria for centuries. They are anise-flavored cookies made from a egg-flour-sugar dough. They are usually made in a simple shape, such as rectangles or circles.
After shaping, they usually have a picture or design pressed into the soft dough with specially carved rolling pins or presses. After they are baked, the designs are sometimes colored if the intention is to use the cookies as decorations.
Also called Amish sugar cookies or Nazareth sugar cookies, the modern sugar cookie was created by the Moravians, who settled in the Nazareth area from Germany during the mid-1700s. Pennsylvania adopted the Nazareth sugar cookie as the official state cookie in 2001.