Ten Delicious Holiday Cookie Recipes from Across Europe
With the holidays upon us, it’s the perfect time to share some of our favorite holiday cookie recipes from across Europe. Every European country approaches the holiday season with its own flair, including an assortment of diverse and delicious holiday baked goods. So, while we may not be hiking through the Alps this holiday season, we can still enjoy a favorite tradition by baking truly sumptuous sweets and sharing them with family and friends. Here are some of our favorite cookie recipes for the holiday season.
Switzerland: Spitzbuben / Miroir
The Miroir cookie is one that will undoubtedly be familiar as it graces mixed cookie tins across the world. What it represents to us is the unique cultural fusion present in Switzerland, as the cookie is represented by both its French and German names depending on whether it is referencing a recipe from French or German-speaking Switzerland. Traveling between the different cantons and dialects of Switzerland is one of our favorite elements of hiking in the mountainous country. The Miroir itself is a simple affair with a layer of jam pressed between two sugar cookies, but its unique flair comes from the “windows” or designs cut into the top cookie to reveal the jam underneath. Get the full recipe here.
Vanillekipferl are a mainstay of Germanic baking, with variations hailing from Bavaria, the Austrian Alps, and even into the metropolises to the north. The Vanillekipferl is a crescent-shaped shortbread cookie cooked with an abundance of butter and crucially no eggs. This rich dessert, flavored with a touch of vanilla and topped with powdered sugar, claims its origins in the baroque streets of Vienna. Here is our favorite recipe.
Italy: Ricotta Cookies
Italian Ricotta Cookies are delightful whether you are picking them up in an Italian village or from an American Italian deli. This unique recipe adds ricotta cheese to the traditional shortbread recipe to deliver a truly rich and sumptuous recipe. Italian cheese is perhaps the country’s greatest export and after having visited the very farms high up in the Alps that produce the fine cheese we know and love, it felt right to represent an Italian cheese-based cookie. Check out the recipe here.
France: Madeleine Cookies
Madeleine cookies are perhaps the most representative delicacy of French baking. These delectable treats are a softer cookie variation made with a sponge cake batter and pressed into a shell-shaped mold. It is the combined elegance and simplicity of the Madeleine cookie that reminds us so much of our time hiking across France. Time to start baking, this is one of our bookmarked recipes.
Croatia: Zarbo Snite
As Croatia is one of the most invigorating and unique regions we travel to, we felt it would make sense to highlight a more exotic baked treat from the excellent Croatian kitchens. The Zarbo Snite cookie is almost like a tiny layer cake, with stacked layers of chocolate and margarine making it as delicious as it is elegant. Croatian cooking and culture have their own unique flair and it is easy to imagine yourself stopping in at a local bakery on Korcula while biting into the rich Zarbo Snite. Yum. Here’s our best recipe.
Portugal: Areias de Cascais
The Portuguese Areias de Cascais translates to “sand cookies”, a fitting description as one of our favorite activities along Portugal’s Southwestern coast is to relax at the beach after a long day’s hike. These cookies are little more than sweetened balls of shortbread, so they represent a great opportunity to let high-quality ingredients shine. In particular, the butter is the star of the show here, so starting with local or high-quality butter is a must! Fire up your oven with this recipe.
Polvorones is a unique Spanish twist on shortbread that uses pig lard rather than butter to give the pastry its unique richness. The Polvorone itself has a surprising history, originally baked during the Spanish Inquisition to differentiate between Catholics and the Moorish occupiers, as the inclusion of pork made the cookie distinctly haram. Despite this darker history, the Polvorone is a unique and complex cookie that is seasoned with almonds and cinnamon. Get the delicious recipe here.
The iconic Pfeffernüsse is huge across all German baking. These cookies are extremely cinnamon-forward with a distinct spicy bite to them. The dough is then balled and covered with a sugar glaze. Our favorite and most authentic recipe can be found here.
Berner Oberland: Meringue
Legend has it that Meringue was first baked in the village of Meiringen in the Berner Oberland to celebrate a visit from the king. This sleepy village is located near the Reichenbach Falls where Arthur Conan Doyle set his ultimate conflict between Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis Moriarty. Not only this, but Meiringen sits only one valley away from the impressive Eiger, one of our most beloved mountains in the Alps. Making Meringue is a simple affair and a great entry point for teaching kids to bake, with the recipe consisting of little more than eggs and sugar. Get the delectable recipe here.
Gingerbread is perhaps the most iconic holiday cookie of them all, served as both softer gingerbread cakes and harder variations that are more similar to a cookie. We have featured a more cake-like recipe that heralds back to the historic recipes from England for baking gingerbread. Flavored with ginger, cinnamon, and molasses, this holiday treat is a true indulgence, which is fitting considering the comfort and sweetness of the English countryside. Get baking with our favorite recipe here.
We at Ryder-Walker hope you have a wonderful holiday season filled with family, cheer, and cozy winter nights! We’re already looking forward to you joining us on the trails next summer. Bon Appétit!