If you are still considering what Christmas cookies to bake for this year's table, may I highly recommend pfeffernussen (peppernuts). They are cute, round, icing-capped spice biscuits originating in Central Europe. I loathe the ones that you buy, but this home-made version is delicious, and has received the most recipe requests from the recipients of my baking this year. They are also quite easy to make, which is an added bonus.
The recipe for pfeffernussen that I used (and which has been receiving rave reviews) is from p93 of the December 09/January 10 edition of a New Zealand food magazine called Dish.
If I have tempted you, and you are still looking for cookie recipes for Christmas, the recipe is as follows:
100g softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
~3 teaspoons lemon juice
In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the butter and sugar, and beat until light and creamy. Add the honey and egg and one tablespoon of the flour, and beat until well combined.
Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl, then stir through the creamed butter mixture.
Turn the dough out onto a piece of cling film, form into a flattened disc, and refrigerate the dough until firm (~20 minutes).
In the meantime, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Remove the chilled dough from the fridge, and using your fingers, break off tablespoonful-sized pieces of dough and roll into balls:
Place the balls of dough ~2cm apart on the lined baking sheets, then refrigerate for another 10 minutes or so until the dough becomes firm.
Remove the chilled biscuits from the fridge, and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. The biscuits will crack on top.
Remove the baked biscuits from the oven, and cool them on their trays on wire racks.
Once the biscuits are cool, prepare the icing by mixing together the icing sugar and lemon juice to make a thick, smooth glaze that is perfect for dipping. Dip the top of each biscuit in the glaze, allow the excess to drip back into the icing bowl, and place each biscuit back on the tray to set.
This recipe makes ~ 36 biscuits.