Photo: AS Food studio/Shutterstock

5 International Cookies You Should Leave for Santa This Year

by Katka Lapelosová Dec 23, 2013
1. Rainbow cookies

These cookies, layered to somewhat resemble the Italian flag, were developed by Italian immigrants in the United States. Almond-flavored sponge cake, tangy jam, and a crisp chocolate coating provide a taste of the old country in each bite.

Recipe via Eats Well With Others. Makes about 5 dozen.

4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 (10 oz) can almond paste
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
red and green food coloring gels
1 (12 oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350. Butter a 13×9 inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper with 2 inches hanging off either edge. Butter/grease the paper.

2. Beat egg whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Slowly add in 1/4 cup of sugar, beating at high speed until stiff glossy peaks form. Transfer egg whites to another bowl.

3. Switch to paddle attachment and beat together the almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.

4. Fold half of egg white mixture until almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

5. Divide batter equally among three bowls. Dip the back of a metal fork into the red food gel and then use that to mix one bowl of the batter. Food coloring gels are super potent and this is all you will need for that pretty in pink color. Repeat with the green food gel and another of the bowls of batter. Put the green batter in the fridge. Pour red batter into prepared pan and spread with offset spatula. I would recommend using a really small offset spatula and then kind of roughly spreading the batter as far vertically and horizontally as you can without worrying too much about thickness. Then when it’s basically where it needs to be, even it out more carefully. This was the hardest part of the whole thing for me so don’t feel bad if it takes you a while!

6. Put in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until just set. It is important to UNDERCOOK these. They will look like they’re not done but a toothpick inserted will come out clean.

7. Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Clean pan, then grease and line again. Fill it up with the white layer and bake until just set. While the white layer cooks, take the green layer out of the fridge to return it to room temperature. Transfer white layer to a rack. Clean pan, then grease and line again. Fill it up with the green layer and bake until just set. Transfer to a rack to cool.

8. When all layers are cool, invert green layer onto a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert red on top of green layer. Discard remaining parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. I weighted with a large baking pan, and the two Mark Bittman tomes – How To Cook Everything and How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. Chill at least 8 hours. (Although I think I only waited 5. And they still turned out fine.)

9. Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature. Melt 3.5 oz of the chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, keeping the chocolate over the water.

10. Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread the chocolate in a thin layer over the top of the cake. Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and place another baking sheet on top. Invert cake onto baking sheet and remove parchment paper. Melt another 3.5 oz of chocolate and spread in a thin layer over the top of the cake. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

11. Cut lengthwise into as many strips as your heart desires. I think I ended up cutting seven or eight. As I said before, it depends on how small you want em! Cut strips crosswise into small squares.

2. Chinese almond biscuits

These particular cookies are usually prepared with almond flour, resulting in a firm, earthy, and mildly sweet taste. Macau and Canton are especially known for their almond biscuit bakeries and street vendors.

Recipe via My Kitchen Snippets.

250 gram almond meal
220 gram flour
1 tsp baking powder
95 gram confection’s sugar
½ tsp salt
100 gram vegetable oil or peanut oil
50 gram melted butter
1 egg, beaten for egg wash
Some sliced almonds for decoration (optional)

1. Put the almond meal on the baking pan and toast it in a 325 degree F oven for 10 minutes. Remember to stir it twice in between toasting. Set it aside to cool.

2. In a large mixing bowl sift flour, baking powder and salt. Then sift in the confectioner’s sugar. Add in the cool almond meal and mix up the entire ingredients well.

3. Add in the oil and melted butter. Stir and mix until the mixture comes together to form a soft pliable dough. If it is too dry you can add a bit more oil to it.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degree F and line 2 baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Roll out the dough to about ¼ thick and cut it into desire shapes or you can just simple make it round.

6. Glaze the top with egg wash and sprinkle on some almond slices. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes or until light golden brown.

7. Cool it completely before storing.

3. Snowballs

Alternatively known as Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Jumbles, and Butterballs, this recipe is a simple mix of flour, nuts, water, butter, and powdered sugar. Their purpose is dependent on which country you’re in; people in the United States used to serve them during weddings, and in Russia, the cookie was used as a snack during tea time. Some Mexican bakeries use melted chocolate inside.

Recipe via Crazy for Crust.

1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup finely chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, or almonds)
Powdered sugar for rolling

1. Preaheat oven to 375°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. If dough is too soft, chill it until you can work it easily with your hands.

3. Scoop 1 tablespoon balls of dough and place on prepared cookie sheet.

4. Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute, until you can handle them. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in the sugar until coated. Place on a rack to cool. (Once cookies are cooled, you may want to re-roll them in more powdered sugar.)

4. Alfajores

Variations of this treat exist in both Spain and parts of South America. Argentina is the largest consumer of alfajores, but the circular biscuits layered with dulce de leche, jam, or chocolate are also found in Bolivia, Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil.

Recipe via My Kingdom for a Cake.

130 gr cornstarch
130 gr plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
115 gr unsalted soft butter
70 gr sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200 gr of dulce de leche (see recipe)
Icing sugar for dusting

1. Mix sugar and butter until light and fluffy, add egg yolks, brandy and vanilla to get smooth texture. Sift together the rest of dry ingredients in a separate bowl then combine it with the butter mixture. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap it tightly and place into a refrigerator until firm, for at least one hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 170 C /350 F, line baking sheets with parchment paper..

3. Place the dough on a lightly floured worktop, roll to 0.6 cm and using a 5 cm round cutter cut around 24 rounds.

4. Place the circles at least 1 cm apart and bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until pale golden on the bottom, while remain pale on top. Let them cool on a wire rack and sandwich together with Dulce de Leche. Dust with icing sugar.

Ingredients for dulce de leche:
1 can, 400 ml sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F

2. Pour milk into a oven safe dish and cover tightly with aluminium foil; place in a roasting pan filled with water to reach halfway up the sides of the milk dish. Place on the middle rack and bake for 1 hour.

3. Take the dish out, whisk the mixture until smooth, replace cover and put back in the oven; add more water into a roasting pan and bake for another hour and half.. When ready, whisk the Dulce de Leche until smooth and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.

5. Angel wings

These deep-fried strips of dough, covered in powdered sugar, can be found throughout Europe. Each country creates its own design, such as the French bugnes, which are usually eaten for Lent, and the Ukranian вергуни (verhuny), which mixes in different kinds of alcohol.

Recipe via What You Give Away You Keep.

5 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
Vegetable oil for frying
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

1. Add salt to egg yolks and beat until thick and lemon colored. Add sugar and vanilla, continue beating. Add the sour cream and flour alternately, mixing well after each addition.

2. On a floured surface, knead the dough until it blisters. Cut the dough into two parts. Roll very thin and cut into strips about 4 inches long. This entire process will take a few minutes of elbow grease, don’t panic…

3. Preheat vegetable oil to 325 degrees. I suggest using a deep fryer with a temperature gauge. Keeping the oil at this temperature will ensure even results. Make about a 1 – 1/2 inch slit in the center of each piece of dough and pull one of the ends through it. Drop each cookie in hot oil one at a time. The ends may curl up – use tongs to keep the dough flat. The dough cooks fast, less than one minute each. You will turn them half way through. As soon as the dough changes color to a very light brown, remove them from the oil with tongs. They will brown more once removed. Place on paper towels to absorb oil and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.

4. Yield about 50 cookies (depending on size you cut them)

Discover Matador