Other Traditional St. Nicholas Cookies

Byzantine bishop cookie
Recipe card from Ukrainian Traditional Cuisine
St. Nicholas Center Collection
Czechoslovakian Moon Cookies
Sprits (Dutch Letter Cookies)
Luzern Lebkuchen
(Swiss Bar Cookies)
Krabeli (Swiss Springerle)
Gevulde Speculaas (Dutch Almond Filled Speculaas)
Serbian Vanilla Cookies
Haselnussmakronen (German Hazelnut Macaroons)
Ukrainian Sugar Cookies
Almond Butter Icon Cookies 
Ukrainian Shortbread 

Traditional St. Nicholas Spice Cookies
Other St. Nicholas Cookies 

Sprits (Dutch Letter Cookies)

A simpler cookie to make initial letters for the Feast of St. Nicholas. The custom of giving an initial letter for Sinterklaas began in the 16th century. Before the 19th century, when chocolate processing changed, the letters were baked from bread or cookie dough.
1 cup butter
1 egg
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

Cream butter. Add egg, sugar, salt, lemon peel, and cinnamon. Mix flour with baking powder, slowly add to butter mixture. Place dough in a pastry bag with a tip that has one flat and one fluted side. Squeeze dough onto a buttered cookie sheet, shaping it into letters or initials of the names of the family or guests. Bake at 400° for 15–20 minutes, until lightly brown. Remove cookies from sheet at once.

From Festive Recipes and Festival Menus by Sula Benet, Aabelard-Schuman, 1970, p. 83.

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Luzern Lebkuchen (Swiss Bar Cookies)

This is the "gourmet cake" of the St. Nicholas Festival celebrated annually on December 6th. St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, presides over the feast day, giving an air of solemnity to Lucerne, and culminating in a procession through the town. St. Nicholas is preceded by two heralds and is escorted by frightening Schmutzli.

Luzern Lebkuchen Recipe from Culinary Art and Traditions of Switzerland, Pro Gastronomia, 1992

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Krabeli (Swiss Springerle)

Swiss Nicholas Mold
Swiss mold
St Nicholas Center Collection

This Swiss recipe is better known as springerle in Germany, but can be baked without fancy molds.

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons anise seed
1 pinch baking powder
1 grated lemon peel

Beat sugar and eggs until foamy. Add other ingredients and knead into dough. Form little rolls about the size of a finger and put on a pan, formed into a crescent moon. Make slanted slits on the edge of the crescent. Put in a warm place and let stand for 12 hours. Bake 350° until yellow.

TO USE WITH MOLDS:roll dough out ¼–3/8 inch thick. Swish powdered sugar or flour on top, then imprint with the mold. Cut apart with knife or pizza cutter. To preserve the picture, dry 2–24 hours (depending on humidity, etc.) before baking.

Cooking for Christ

Adapted from Cooking for Christ: Your Kitchen Prayer Book by Florence Berger, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Copyright © 1946. Used by permission.

Purchase from NCRLC Bookstore.

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Gevulde Speculaas (Dutch Almond Filled Speculaas)

Gevulde Speculaas
Gevulde Speculaas

This recipe comes from Kathy Postma who lived in the Netherlands, married a Dutchman, and celebrates St. Nicholas Day with her family every year. It is a St. Nicholas Day favorite in the Netherlands.

1 7-oz roll Odense almond paste Kathy says: I find their almond paste to be the best


1 ¾ sticks of butter (softened)
2 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ cup dark brown sugar (loose not packed)
1 ½ tablespoon speculaas spices*
1 tablespoon milk
½ tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of salt
almond slivers or slices
egg white

*If speculaas spices are not available you can make your own: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ¾ teaspoon cloves, ½ teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon allspice

Mix butter and flour with fork or pastry blender as you would for a pie crust. Add other ingredients. Knead dough until well mixed and pliable. Let dough sit for a few minutes to harden slightly. Press ½ of dough into a greased 8x8" pan. Brush with egg white. Place layer of almond paste on top and brush with egg white again. Press other half of dough flat with your hands; put on top of the other two layers. Press all 3 layers together with your hand. Brush with egg white and decorate with almonds. Bake for 40 minutes at 350º F. CUT WHILE STILL WARM

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Serbian Vanilla Cookies

Serbian Vanilla Cookies
Serbian Vanilla Cookies
Photo: Rich Sugg, The Kansas City Star
Used by permission

Sneza Colak serves these cookies for Serbian Krsna Slava, the celebration of their family's patron saint, St. Nicholas. Read about their traditional celebration in Kansas City.

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks
2 cups plus 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnuts, finely ground
Apricot jam
Confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350º. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Cream butter and sugar, on medium with electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat until combined. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour and nuts until fully mixed.

Lightly flour a flat surface and roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness. Using a small cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake about 17 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on pan, then transfer cooling racks. When completely cook, spread the underside of half of the cookies with apricot jam. Make a sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing gently to spread jam to the edges. Gently toss sandwich cookies in confectioners’ sugar.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

From Serbians Honor Patron Saint in Kansas City, The Kansas City Star. Used by permission.

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Haselnussmakronen (German Hazelnut Macaroons)

When St. Nicholas comes there is always a large tray of assorted cookies ready for him and any other visitors who might call during Advent

¾ cup (6 oz) sugar
1 cup (7½ oz) ground hazelnuts (filberts) or almonds
1½ tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg whites
pinch of salt

Whisk egg whites until stiff. Add the sugar and continue whisking until the mixture stands in stiff peaks. Add the remaining ingredients and fold in gently. Drop teaspoonfuls of mixture onto a greased baking sheet at least 1-inch apart. Allow to stand. Bake in oven at 300° for ½ hour. Carefully transfer to a cooling tray and store in an airtight container. They will keep for several weeks.

From Feasting for Festivals: Customs and recipes to celebrate the Christian Year by Jan Wilson, Lion Publishing, 1990. Permission pending.

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Byzantine bishop cookie

Ukrainian Sugar Cookies

Byzantine bishop cookie cutters are available in our shop

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon nutmeg or vanilla
Mini chocolate chips for eyes, if desired
3 to 4+ cups flour (or more to make rolling consistency)
Cream sugar and shortening. Add beaten egg, egg yolks, and cream. Add sifted dry ingredients using only enough flour so dough can be easily handled. Roll and cut into desired shapes; sprinkle with sugar (or leave plain to decorate with frosting) and bake at 350º F for about 10 minutes or until golden.
Adapted from Ukrainian Christmas: Traditions, Folk Customs, and Recipes compiled by Mary Ann Woloch Vaughn, Ukrainian Heritage Company, 8444 Kraay Avenue, Munster, IN 46321. Copyright © 1983 Mary Ann Woloch Vaughn.
Purchase from amazon.com, amazon.ca or amazon.uk.

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Recipe for Speculaas and Springerle cookies with tips for using HOBI Picture Cookie Molds by Gene Wilson

An interesting site with recipes (including Taai Taai from the Netherlands and many other hard-to-find recipes for molded cookies from other countries) as well as information about wooden cookie and cake molds—with many beautiful pictures of cookie boards.

For lots of information on the history of spiced gingerbread cookies and Christmas, and recipes

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