United States: Amish Ginger Cookies

The Amish in the United States are known for their simple living. They shun most modern conveniences and live with an emphasis on family, community and the church. Although Amish groups can be found in Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota and Ontario, Pennsylvania has the largest Amish population in the United States.

The Amish eat what they grow or raise, and avoid commercial and processed foods that many of us take for granted. The women spend a lot of their time baking traditional Amish sweets like sugar cookies and schnitz pie.

This simple recipe for Amish Ginger Cookies uses dried, ground ginger, but you can substitute fresh grated ginger for a more authentic taste. Sandwich vanilla ice cream between two of these cookies for a tasty and refreshing summertime treat.

Latvia: Tokorzvarhitjas

Latvian cuisine overall has been greatly influenced by its neighboring countries. Tokorzvarhitjas, or bowknot cookies, may have originated in Latvia, but the idea is basically the same whether the cookie is made in Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria or Russia.

The basis for this delicious treat is a sour cream dough that is rolled out, cut deep fried and sprinkled with confectioners sugar.

Sweden: Pepparkakor

There is no cookie that says "Christmas in Sweden" more than traditional Pepparkakor, commonly referred to as "ginger thins" or "gingernuts" in the UK. Although they are similar in taste to the United States' gingersnaps, they are very different cookies. Pepparkakor are generally spiced a bit heavier, with a smooth finish and are extremely thin -- approximately 1/8". Gingersnaps in the United States are usually drop cookies with crackes on the top and oftentimes a soft center.

Pepparkakor is an integral part of the Christmas feast in Sweden and is also used to decorate their Christmas trees. While you will usually see them in the shape of a heart, at the holidays they are also cut into pig and goat shapes. What? You don't know about the Christmas goat?

Swedish custom says that you should place a Pepparkakor in the palm of your hand. Then, make a wish. Using the index finger or thumb of your free hand, tap the cookie in the middle. Swedish tradition states that if the Pepparkakor breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true. If the Pepparkakor does not break into three pieces, well, you'll just have to enjoy eating the cookie in smaller pieces.

Thailand: Khanom Phing

The Portuguese have had an impact on the way Asians cook. This can be seen as early as the early 16th century when the Portuguese went abroad from Malaysia to nearby Thailand, then known as Siam. The Portuguese influenced an unexpected aspect of Thai cuisine: its sweets. By introducing the concept of using egg yolks and flour, ingredients integral to Portuguese dessert making, the Portuguese had an impact on Thai desserts that exists until today.

Real traditional Thai desserts contains only three main ingredients : flour, sugar and coconut. These three are mixed in different amounts and cooked by various methods such as bolling, frying, streaming, and grilling, to produce nummerous kinds of desserts. Almost 1,000 different desserts have been invented from only 3 main ingredients displaying great imagination and perseverance on the part of the Thai people.

United States: Apees

Apees (also known as A.P. or apeas) are a spiced butter cookie of German origins that are popular in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Dutch country.

History has is that the cookies got their name from the fact that they were a form of Anis Platchen (anise cookies) and they were stamped with A.P. on top of them to distinguish them from cookies made with carraway which were known as "seed cakes".

There were many bakers selling these on the streets in Philadelphia, and one of the most popular was Ann Page. Very quickly, the A.P. stamped on the cookies became associated with Ann Page. 

Poland: Chrusciki

Loosely translated, Chrusciki means “cookie” in Polish. They are also commonly referred to as "Angels’ Wings", although North Americans also refer to them as "Bow Ties". They are also known as Chiacchiere in Italy. These sugar-dusted sweets are associated with the pre-Lenten carnival in Poland. In the United States, they are generally served at Polish-American weddings and other festivities.

Russia: Kosh Tili

One of the smallest and least-known ethnic groups in Russia are the Tatars. They represent an area officially known as Tatarstan, 500 miles east of Moscow. Kosh Tili, which means "birds' tongues", is a traditional fried cookie treat prepared for holidays.

Puerto Rico: Mantecaditos

Historically, several countries have had an influence on Puerto Rican cuisine: Spain, Mexico, Africa and the United States.

Sweets are very much a part of the Puerto Rican cuisine, with custards, puddings and flans as some of the favorites. Mantecaditos are favorite cookies, particularly at the Holidays.

Ukraine: Varenyky

Varenyky (or vareniki in Russian) are stuffed dough pockets that are near and dear to the hearts of the people of the Ukraine, although variations are also found in Belarusian, Russian, Polish and Turkish cuisine. They are similar to Polish pierogi, Siberian pelmeni and Italian ravioli. Thte name varenyk simply means "boiled thing". To prepare them, filling is wrapped in a dough, boiled and then covered with butter or some type of oil.

The savory version of these are generally filled with cottage cheese or a potato and cheese filling and are topped with sour cream and sauteed onions. The sweet version of Varenyky are generally stuffed with fruit and served with sour cream and sugar. In Latvia, they glaze them with egg whites, bake them and then serve with soup; Mennonites generally bake and serve them with borscht; and the Polish boil them, fry them up in some butter and then top with bread crumbs.


12 tablespoons cold butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
14 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg yolk, optional
3 tablespoons granulated sugar or to taste
1/4 cup sour cream
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
granulated sugar
sour cream for garnish

Combine flour and 1/4 cup of sugar. Rub in butter until well combined and mixture is crumbly. Stir in the eggs (add a little water if necessary).

Form dough into a ball. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Wash blackberries and mash with a fork. Add cream cheese, egg yolk, 3 tablespoons sugar, sour cream, cinnamon, and salt.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out thinly on a lightly floured work surface. Use a round cookie cutter or rim of a drinking glass and cut the dough into 4" rounds. Place a spoonful of the filling in the middle of each circle. Moisten the edges of the dough and fold in half to enclose the filling. Pinch to seals the edges well.

To cook, drop into boiling salted water and cook until the dumplings are floating. Remove, drain and sprinkle with sugar. Serve with sour cream.

Lebanon: Nammoura

Nammoura is a traditional Middle Eastern sweet treat that everyone, especially the children, enjoys.


14 oz. Cream of Wheat
1/4 pound butter, melted
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cups sugar
16 whole raw shelled almonds
3 cups cold Atter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix well all ingredients except almonds. Pour into a 13 x 9-in. pan. Top with almonds (1 per serving, on center).

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden. Cut into squares or rectangles. Pour cold atter syrup over namoura immediately.

Yield: 1 tray.

NOTE: It is important to keep namoura covered to prevent dryness.

Atter Syrup

This is the standard syrup that most Arabs pour over all things sweet. This syrup is used for a number of Middle Eastern pastries and treats. It will keep for a very long time stored covered in the refrigerator.

3 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups water
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp rose water or orange blossom water

Dissolve sugar in water. Add lemon juice, bring to a boil. Stir occasionally until syrup slightly thickens (about 10 minutes). Add rose water towards end of cooking time. Let stand to cool.

Yield: 3 cups.