Every year around this time of the month, with only a few days until Christmas Eve (Heiligabend), I appreciate a simple cookie recipe for buttery cut out sugar cookies. Usually it starts with a long look at my rather extensive collection of cookie cutters. So many to chose from, so little time. This week the lovely Pretzel shaped cookie cutter caught my attention.
The recipe I use is a rather traditional recipe for butter cookies with almond flour, vanilla and just a bit of lemony flavor from the grated zest of one lemon - you can go with orange or other citrus zest if you prefer, as long as your citrus fruit is organic and/or untreated.
For decorating and extra taste and crunch, I chose finely chopped almonds (no skin), unsalted pistachios, unsweetened shredded coconut and so-called 'Discodip' - these are fun sprinkles in happy colors, with an adorable name, from the Netherlands – you can opt for colored sugar or pearl sugar or leave the cookies unadorned.
Sweet Christmas Pretzel with Almond, Pistachio, Coconut & Discodip l Süße Weihnachtsbrezel mit Mandeln, Pistazien, Kokos & Discodip
For the dough
- 125g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 250g superfine baking sugar (feinster Backzucker)
- 16g pure vanilla sugar (Bourbon Vanille Zucker)
- 2 eggs (S), free range or organic
- 250g AP (plain) flour (Weizenmehl Type 405), plus some for the work surface
- 100g almond flour
- grated zest of 1 organic lemon
- a pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 egg yolk (M), free range or organic
- about 2 tbsp of milk (I use 3.5%)
- chopped almonds
- chopped pistachios
- shredded unsweetened coconut
- Discodip, sprinkles, nonpareils or colored sugars
- 2 cookie sheets
- baking parchment paper
- cookie cutter in the shape of a brezel (or any other shape)
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter with the sugar and vanilla sugar, add the eggs and mix until well blended.
- Stir in flour, almond flour, lemon zest and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
- When you are ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 180° C (356°F).
- Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Divide dough in half. On lightly floured surface (or between two sheets of parchment paper) roll each half of dough to 0.5cm (0.2in) thick.
- In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolk with the milk.
- Cut into pretzel or other assorted shapes with cookie cutter(s) and place on prepared parchment lined cookie sheet – leave some space between the cookies but they will not spread much.
- Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the cookies with the egg wash and decorate cookies as desired with nuts, coconut and sprinkles or colored sugars.
- Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until lighty brown.
- Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
When rolling out sugar cookies, just lightly flouring the work suface is key but there is also another way which I prefer with recipes like this one: just roll the dough between two sheets of baking parchment paper and try to cut the dough out with as little space between as you can, to minimize scraps.
And if you want to decrease the chance of the cookies spreading too much while baking, it is also important to place the baking sheet with the cut-outs into the fridge for a few minutes before sliding them into the oven.
It’s important to keep the dough chilled, so work in batches as you roll the dough out. Cover the dough and refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling. While rolling one half of the dough, keep the other in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Use a light hand when re-rolling dough scraps, gently pressing them together and rolling them out quickly. If the dough is overworked your cookies will definitely turn out to be tough - if they do, thread a pretty ribbon through the cookies and use them as Christmas tree decoration.
For more sweet cookie Pretzel inspiration you can take a look at my Summer Pretzel with Cinnamon & Vanilla (Sommerbrezel mit Zimt & Vanille) HERE – pictured above.