I like to make round cookies to hang on the tree and keep a few star-shaped cookies in reserve to leave out for Santa with a glass of milk.
A Holiday Tradition From the Netherlands
To add a sweet touch to your festive decorations, why not try making some kerstkransjes to hang on the Christmas tree? These traditional Dutch cookies are generally made in a round or star shape. They usually have a hole in the centre through which you can thread a brightly coloured ribbon to hang them from the tree.
There are lots of different variations on the recipe. Some people like to make chocolate Christmas wreath cookies, for example. I like to stick to a fairly traditional recipe and that's what I've shared here.
You can easily whip up a batch of these cookies and get the kids to help you to hang them on the tree, or why not get the whole family involved in decorating them—it's great fun. I like to make round cookies to hang on the tree and keep a few star-shaped cookies in reserve to leave out for Santa with a glass of milk.
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Makes 15 cookies
- 1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp butter, unsalted
- 1/3 cup superfine (caster) sugar
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add the salt.
- With clean hands, rub the butter into the flour until you have something resembling fine breadcrumbs, Now stir in the sugar and lemon zest, ensuring everything is thoroughly incorporated.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the vanilla extract and milk into the well and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough begins to form.
- Once the dough starts to come together use your (clean) hands to work the dough into a ball.
- Wrap the dough up in plastic film and refrigerate for about 1 hour. When the dough has had a chance to rest, pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
- On a clean surface, dusted with a little flour to prevent sticking, roll out the dough to approximately 1/4 inch thickness.
- Using a 2-inch cookie cutter in the shape of your choice, cut out as many cookies as you can and place on the baking sheet. If you want to hang the cookies on the tree, remember to cut a small hole in the centre of each cookie. If you have a very small cutter this is ideal. Alternatively, an apple corer is useful for making the holes in the centres of the cookies.
- Bring any scraps of dough together and reform into a ball. Roll out once more and cut out more cookies. Repeat this process until you have used as much of the dough as possible.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to rest on the baking tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- When cool, brush with egg wash and sprinkle some sugar over the cookies. Thread a colourful piece of string or ribbon through the hole and tie to secure. You can then tie the cookies onto the branches of your Christmas tree. Alternative suggestions for decorating the cookies are given below.
Cookie Photo Guide
Time to Decorate the Kerstkransjes!
Although the cookies are perfectly fine left plain, you can make them even more festive by adding some decoration. If you want to keep things simple, you can create an egg wash by beating an egg together with about a teaspoon of water, and brush this over the top of the cookies once they've cooled. You can then sprinkle sugar over the cookies or add glacé cherries and almonds.
How you decorate the cookies is entirely up to you, but I like to use royal icing to decorate mine as it gives a really nice texture and you can add layers of colour or sprinkle coloured sugar on top. You can use food colouring to make the icing any colour you choose and can tie the cookies into your Christmas theme.
Royal Icing Recipe
Royal icing makes a fantastic covering for cakes and cookies. You can add food colouring gel to create the shade you're looking for, or leave the icing plain white. It is fairly easy to apply to the cookies and if you add a little glycerin to the icing, it prevents it from hardening too much. However, you should be aware that royal icing contains raw egg white. Use the freshest possible eggs and be wary if you have young children, or are pregnant as raw egg whites may be harmful.
- 1 egg white
- 250 grams icing (powdered) sugar
- 1/2 tsp glycerin
- Sift the icing (powdered) sugar into a measuring jug so you can pour it easily.
- Separate 1 medium sized egg and place the whites into a mixing bowl.
- Beat the egg until it becomes frothy. You can either mix the icing by hand or use an electric mixer which will make the process easier
- .Gradually mix in the icing (powdered) sugar until you have a smooth, glossy icing that forms soft peaks.
- Add in the glycerine and mix well.
- Use the icing immediately, or cover the bowl with plastic wrap to prevent it drying out.
If you want to colour the royal icing, use a food colouring gel as it will alter the consistency less. You can, of course, buy ready made royal icing from the grocery store, but it's so simple to make and usually costs less if you do it yourself.
Icing Photo Guide
How to Decorate With Royal Icing
To decorate the cookies with royal icing, place about a quarter of the royal icing into a piping bag and cut a small opening at the end (no more than 1/8 inch). Put plastic wrap over the remaining icing to ensure it doesn't dry out.
Pipe a border around the outer edge of the cookie. Try to keep an even pressure on the piping bag to ensure you make a smooth line around the outside of the cookie. It's best to slowly squeeze out the icing and let it fall into place rather than trying to force it.
Once you have edged the cookie, dilute the remaining royal icing with a couple of drops of water until it has a runny consistency. Place this into a piping bag and use this to fill the centre of the cookie. Be careful not to let the runnier icing flow over the border you have created around the edge.
You can now leave the icing to set or, if you prefer, you can pipe a decoration onto the cookie with a contrasting colour of icing or you can sprinkle some coloured sugar over it.
When the icing has set, you can thread some ribbon through the cookies and hang on your Christmas tree or you can serve immediately. These cookies will keep for three to four days.
Decorating Photo Guide
Ann Leung from San Jose, California on September 29, 2012:
My daughter is standing next to me right now. The first reaction when she saw these star cookies was, "Are you going to make these star cookies tonight? I can help with the decoration."
Well, tomorrow is Sunday, looks like we will have time to give your recipe a try tonight.
Thank you for sharing!
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on September 26, 2012:
These are so neat! I keep telling myself I should make cookies to hang on the tree, but I haven't gotten around to trying it yet. Partly because my kids tried to eat anything that looked remotely edible, so I avoided all that for many years.
Remember the fad years ago of making ornaments from a flour and salt mixture? Somewhere, I still have the remnants of a set I bought. Every single one has a bite out of it. I'm not sure why they didn't stop after biting one of them, but it's still funny today to remember it.
Voted up and up!