Denmark: Pebernodder

Known as Pebernødder in Denmark, peppernut cookies are found in all of the Nordic countries as well as Germany and the US. They are called "pfeffernüesse" in the United States, "pfeffernüssen" in Germany, "pepperkaker" in Norway, "pepparnotter" in Sweden, "peppernoten" in Holland and even "piparkukas" in Latvia. In South Germany, they are known as "Eiweißgebäck". They are also known as "Pimpernüsse" in some places.

These tiny ball-shaped cookies are full of spices and the ingredient for which they're named--pepper. Traditionally served at Christmastime, the Danish twist includes the use of white pepper rather than black and mace instead of nutmeg.
Contrary to popular belief, traditional peppernuts DO NOT contain anise oil or anise seeds. There are a myriad amount of recipes containing everything from honey to corn syrup, molasses, or anise, but they are not authentically Pebernodder.

The pfeffernuesse that you see in the United States are often made with baking soda and even baking powder. They’re also made into 3/4” balls before baking so that they’re a larger, fluffier cookie. When they cool off a little, they’re coated with powdered sugar -- delicious, but not authentic.

Pebernødder (peppernuts)

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two to three baking sheets.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in the cardamom, cinnamon, mace or nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and salt until well blended.

Mix in the flour, one cup at a time, until the dough gathers together. With floured hands, pinch off small, 1/2 teaspoon amounts of dough, roll into tiny balls, and place on prepared baking sheets. Alternately, you can roll the dough into 3/8" ropes and use a knife or scissors to cut them into small pieces.

Bake in preheated oven until bottom of cookies are light tan, 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool 15 minutes on baking sheets. Store in an airtight container.

Cyprus: Daktyla

If civilization truly starts on the table, then Cyprus is among the most civilized countries of the Mediterranean. The Cypriots instinctively know what is important to good living so eating and drinking well are always high on their agenda. Although international cuisine is widely available in Cyprus, the tavernas and best restaurants delight in serving classic Cypriot dishes that have been enjoyed over the centuries.
Like everything in Cyprus, religion is split. The northerners are mostly Muslim and the southerners are Greek Orthodox. This religious split brings about cultural differences and food, too, reflects the divide. In the north you will find more Turkish cooking, while in the south the food will be of Greek origin. However, wherever you are in Cyprus, you will come across some duplicate south eastern Mediterranean dishes, such as Kleftiko (baked lamb) and mezes (dip appetizers).

As with most typical Mediterranean food, recipes are based on locally grown produce, namely root vegetables, citrus fruits, fresh fish, vine leaves, cheese, olives, aromatic spices and fresh herbs such as coriander.

Sweets and desserts have always been an important and distinctive part of the Cipriots' menu. A favorite in South Cyprus is Daktyla, lady fingers filled with ground almonds and cinnamon sugar, a traditional sweet served during Sykoses (a ten day carnival preceding Lent) and Pellomaskes, holiday of the Mad Masks (similar to our Halloween).

Don't confuse these delectable sweets with the Greek Griechisches Fingerbrot, also known as Daktyla or "Greek Finger Bread", small loaves of bread topped with sesame seeds.


7-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water (approximately)
dash salt

3 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1/4 cup blossom water
lemon peel

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and oil. Slowly add enough water to make a soft dough (use more than the amount called for if necessary). Knead well. Cover and let dough rest for 1 to 2 hours.

Roll out dough on floured surface and cut dough into squares. Mixed chopped almonds with a bit of cinnamon. Place a spoonful of almonds onto each square of dough. Roll up into small cylinder shapes, sealing edges with a fork. Deep fry in hot oil. Drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, boil 3 cups water with 2 cups sugar, 1 cup honey 1/4 cup blossom water and lemon peel for 5 minutes. Quickly dip cooled daktyla into hot syrup.

Recipe courtesy of Mary's Place.

Czech Republic: Vanilkove Rohlicky

Czech national cuisine is based on ingredients that can be grown domestically, i.e. cereals, leguminous plants and potatoes, which are usually served with pork, beef or poultry, or, in some places, with freshwater fish. These seemingly ordinary ingredients have been used to create excellent and original dishes that you can truly only find in Czech cuisine.

Czech cuisine has developed over hundreds of years and has been influenced by Austrian and Hungarian cuisines, yet it has also influenced the cuisines of its neighboring countries in return. Many of the fine cakes and pastries that are popular in Central Europe actually originated in Czechoslovakia.

Desserts (moučníky) come in many varieties and tend to be heavy and fatty because butter (máslo) and whipped cream (šlehačka) are often used. Some popular desserts are:
- crepes (palačinky) filled with jam (džem) or strawberries (jahody)- and whipped cream- honey cake called Medovník - blueberry dumplings (borůvkové knedlíky)- apple strudel (jablečný závin)- ice cream sundae (zmrzlinový pohár).

A favorite cookie is Vanilkove Rohlicky, sweet vanilla crescents. It is said that Czech President Vaclav Havel was hospitalized in intensive care for 10 days. When he began to recover, the first food he ate were four of these tasty cookies.

Vanilkove Rohlicky (Vanilla Crescents)

1/2 lb unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups ground, unblanched almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
Confectioner's sugar

Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Add in the almonds, vanilla extract and salt, continuing to beat until the mixture becomes a slightly stiff dough.

Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for approximately one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Light grease or butter baking sheet.

Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of the chilled dough and place them on a floured board. Roll each one into a 2-1/2" strip approximately 1" wide and 1/2" thick. Shape each piece into a crescent by pulling it into a semi-circle.

Arrange the crescents at least 1" apart on the baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove baking sheets from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner's sugar.

Freeze or store in airtight containers. (Note: Many Czech's prefer "vanilkove rohlicky" a few days old when the flavors have fully developed.)

Recipe courtesy of Eleanor's Kitchen.

Bulgaria: Maslenki

Bulgaria's cuisine contains a unique blend of flavors reflecting the country's position in Southeast Europe. Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern influences combine with the country's native Slavic traditions. Many people say that they can detect influences from further afield as well such as a bit of Hungarian cuisine, a taste of Italy, and just a hint of the Mediterranean.

Maslenki are jam-filled Bulgarian Christmas cookies beloved by children. In Bulgaria, they are traditionally made with lard, but you can substitute butter if you wish. Be sure to find the best lard you can, unhydrogentated and organic is best.

This recipe makes a beautifully pliable dough that doesn’t spread while baking, so you can place the cookies very close together on the baking sheet. Maslenki can be stored and enjoyed for up to a month. The longer they stand, the softer they become.


3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup lard
4 cups white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
your favorite jam

Beat the eggs well. Add the sugar and beat until light and foamy, about 5 minutes.

Melt the lard (or butter) and let cool slightly. Temper the egg mixture by pouring a little of the lard into the eggs and mix well. Then slowly add the remaining lard to the egg/sugar mixture.

Combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture to create a firm dough. Divide into 3 balls. Roll out each ball until it is 1/4-inch thick. Use a knife or cookie cutter to cut into 2" sqares. Place on baking sheet.

Bake in an oven preheated to 375°F for 8-10 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool completely. Add a teaspoon or so of the jam to top of each cookie. Dust with powdered sugar.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Croatia: Fanjki (Kroštule)

Croatia's cuisine, like the country itself, is an anthology of dishes that reflect widely diverse cultural and geographic influences. Some culinary traditions are a result of Croatia's proximity to the sea and its wealth of fertile farmland, and some are the result of foreign occupiers who exported their tastes and cultures.

Croatians are very proud of their gastronomic traditions, and while there are regional differences, you'll find that freshness, grilling, and daily baking are consistent across the country. You will find a distinct Italian trend in cuisine on the coast, thanks to centuries of occupation by Rome and Venice; and a bent toward dishes heavy in meat and sauces in continental Croatia, thanks to years of Austrian, Hungarian, and Turkish domination.

Wherever you go, you'll find that the result is a wonderfully diverse Croatian cuisine that is rooted in family and friends, the seasons, and the bounty of Croatia's soil and sea.

These popular sweets are found under many names. In English, they are called sweet fritters, sweet knots or sweet bows. Depending on the region in Italy, they are known as crostoli, cenci (sweet knots) and cenci per il Berlingaccio (Shrove Tuesday Sweet Knots), frappe', frappole, nastri, chiacchere delle monache, etc. In Dalmatia and Croatia, they are known as fanjki (kroštule), hrvoštule, and škrustule. In Poland, they are kruschik (spelling?).
This sweet is traditionally served at Christmas and Easter dinners. In Tuscany, they are served on Shrove Tuesday or as it is called locally, the Feast of the Berlingaccio.

Krostule (KRO-shtyoo-leh)

4 eggs
4 tbs sugar
3/4 tbs butter, melted
2-3/4 cups flour (approximately)
2 tsp anise extract
2 tsp water
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying

Beat whole eggs in electric mixer until thick and lemon colored (about 5 minutes). Gradually add sugar and salt and beat until dissolved. Stir in melted butter.

Add half of the flour and blend well. Mix anise extract with the water and add to the mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix in enough of the remaining flour to make a rather stiff dough, somewhat like a noodle dough.

Add the remaining flour and knead with your hands until the dough i elastic and not too sticky to touch. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Roll the dough out into small portions on a well-floured board. Dough should be very thin and almost transparent. Cut with a pastry wheel into 1" x 4" strips. If desired, tie the strips into loose knots.

Using a deep fryer or heavy bottomed pan, fry strips in hot oil until very light golden color, turning once. Use two forks to handle so as not to break the strips. Be careful not to overcook.

Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with confectioners sugar from a sifter. Store in air-tight containers.

Recipe from Mary Scurich Farris as printed in a very old newsletter of one of the Croatian groups of Watsonville, California. Both sides of Mary's family (Skuric' and Fiorovic') were from Konavle.

Costa Rica: Suspiros

Approximately 95% of the Costa Rican population are of Spanish or Mestizo (mixed) heritage, heavily influencing the country's cooking style. Its fusion cuisine combines elements of culinary traditions from Africa, Italy, France, China and Spain. Costa Rica's traditionally mild, not over-spiced cuisine usually features rice and beans, which are also the main ingredients in the national dish, gallo pinto.

Common desserts are queque seco (orange pound cake), torta chilena, miel de chiverre (sweet white spaghetti squash), tres leches, arroz con leche (rice pudding), dulce de leche and suspiros (meringues).

Suspiros (Meringues)

3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add vinegar and cream of tartar. Continue beating until smooth. Sprinkle sugar into mixture gradually, one tablespoon at a time, and continue beating for 3 more minutes.

Fill pastry bag fitted with large star shape with mixture. Pipe meringues into medium-sized "kiss candy" shapes leaving a distance of 2" apart from each meringue on a buttered or greased baking sheet.

Bake for one hour or until light brown. Turn oven off and let meringues dry in oven 2 to 3 more hours without opening oven door.

Remove meringues from cookie sheet with a spatula. Store in airtight container.

Recipe courtesy of

Canada: Nanaimo Bars

The Nanaimo, a Canadian bar cookie, receives its name from the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, where it first became known in the 1930's. According to historical legend, a group of friends in Nanaimo found the recipe in the Vancouver Sun under the name "chocolate fridge cake", and then popularized it under the name "Nanaimo Bar". However, no one can find the recipe in the paper's archives, so its ultimate origin may never be known.

Nanaimo bars consists of a crumb-based layer, topped by a layer of light custard or vanilla butter icing, which is covered in soft chocolate. Many varieties are possible by using different types of crumb, flavors of custard or icing (e.g. mint, peanut butter), and types of chocolate. Two popular variations on the traditional Nanaimo bar involve mint flavored custard or mocha flavored custard.

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1-1/4 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Top Layer:

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

Cut into square and serve.

Recipe courtesy of the City of Nanaimo's Official Website.

Estonia: Suussulavad Kaerakupsised

Estonia is a Nordic country, which also says a lot about the Estonian cuisine: eating habits, food, ways of cooking etc. The rather sharp contrast between seasons, quite unusual for a southener, is also reflected in the rhythm of life of a people, closer to nature than the average European. An Estonian tends to be slow and introvert in autumn and winter, and much more energetic and communicative in summertime.

How, what, and where an Estonian eats seems largely to be determined by the length and warmth of the days. Darkness and frost bring to the table sauerkraut and roast, brawn and black pudding, thick soup and stew. In summertime, on the other hand, it seems that people are able to survive on little but the warmth and sunlight, accompanied by everything light and fresh that gardens and forests have to offer.

A tasty Estonian treat are oat cookies called Suussulavad Kaerakupsised, made from the old-fashioned porridge oats that are so widely consumed there. These melt-in-your-mouth cookies contain no flour or baking powder and are incredibly tasty.

Suussulavad Kaerakupsised (Oat Cookies)

2-1/4 cups old-fashioned porridge oats
4 large eggs
2/3 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
2/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup small seedless yellow raisins

Preheat oven to 360 degrees.

Whisk eggs with sugar until pale and frothy. Season with vanilla extract and stir in melted butter, oats and raisins. Stir until combined. The mixture should be on the soft side.

Take scant tablespoonfuls of the mixture and transfer them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. (You don't want to make your cookies too large as they will break apart since egg is the only thing holding them together.

Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown on the edges. Let cool for a minute on the baking sheet, and then transfer gently to a metal rack to cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for a few days.

Recipe courtesy of Nami Nami.

Brazil: Biscoitos de Maizena

Approximately one million native Indians lived in Brazil when the first Portuguese explorers arrived early in the 16th century. Beginning in 1538, almost 5 million Africans arrived before the abolition of slavery in 1888. Portuguese immigrants were followed by Italians, Germans, Syrians, and Lebanese. Asians arrived during the 1930's.

This population mixture has created a national cooking style marked by profound differences. The Brazilian cuisine did not eliminate its identity in the process. Rather, the distinct contribution of each of these groups is still apparent in many Brazilian dishes today

In the Brazilian cuisine, a lot of interesting desserts and sweets are being prepared in a specific and rather interesting way. For instance, avocado is sweetened and used as part of the dessert dishes, as creme de abacate (avocado cream). Meringue is another delicious Brazilian dessert, usually made with strawberries and a lot of whipped cream.

Cookies and solid sweets are very popular in the Brazilian cuisine and are preferred not only by children, but by grown-ups as well. Among them, Biscoitos de Maizena (cornstarch cookies) are the most delicious ones and have a typical vanilla flavor. These melt-in-your-mouth treats are so named because Maizena is the brand name for cornstarch in Brazil. Biscoitos de Maizena are sold in cellophane bags and are readily available in most grocery stores and pastry shops throughout Brazil.

Biscoitos de Maizena (Cornstarch Cookies)

2 cups cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbs) unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Sift cornstarch, sugar and salt together, mix the egg and blend in the butter. Knead well. Let stand ten to fifteen minutes.

Roll into 1-inch balls in the palm of your hand and drop them onto a greased cookie sheet. Use the tines on a fork to make grooves on the cookies and flatten them slightly. Alternatively, you can use a cookie press.

Bake for approximately seven minutes. Let cool and serve with a wonderful cup of Brazilian coffee in the afternoon.

Recipe courtesy of Maria-Brazil.

Belgium: Speculaas

Speculaas, cookies native to the Netherlands and Belgium, are traditionally baked for consumption on December 5th, St. Nicholas' Eve. The Belgian town of Hasselt is best known for its Speculaas. These cookies are thin, very crunchy, slightly browned, and, most significantly, have some image or figure (often from circle of traditional stories about St. Nicholas) stamped on the front side before baking; the back side is flat.

It is believed that the name Speculaas derives from the latin word, speculum, which means mirror, and refers to the fact that the images are cut as a mirrored bas-relief into a wooden stamp which is then used to decorate the Speculaas.


1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup finely ground blanched almonds
vegetable oil for oiling molds
flour for dusting molds

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and lemon zest. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and baking soda. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients and almonds until just blended. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease several baking sheets. Prepare molds by lightly brushing vegetable oil over the surface and lightly dusting with flour. Shake out the excess flour.

Using only enough dough to to fit each mold, and keeping the rest refrigerated press the dough into the mold. Firmly press the dough once you have filled the mold to eliminate any air bubbles and cut away any excess dough. Flip the mold over and gently tap to remove the cookie. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Before filling the mold again, dust with additional flour.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are just starting to turn golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the sheets for 3 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and coole completely. Decorate if desired or place in an airtight container.

Recipe courtesty of Cookie Recipes Online.

Azerbaijan: Sheker Bura

Azerbaijan is a diverse country bordered by the Caspian Sea. The cuisine is very rich and colorful, but traditional cooking has changed considerably over the past century due to external political influences. During the Soviet period, Azerbaijani cuisine went through a considerable transformation when a number of Russian dishes were imported into the local cooking. Russians introduced many new preparations such as stolichniy (potato salad), pirozhki (stuffed dough), or blinchiki (pancakes stuffed with meat or cheese).

Sheker bura is one of the traditional cookies usually baked for Novruz, one of the most important holidays in Azerbaijan. It is not a religious holiday, but actually is the celebration of the coming of spring, and the renewal of nature.

Shekerbura consists of nuts and sugar wrapped in dough. The outer surface is then intricately decorated using a special tool. The recipe for Shekerbura traditionally passes from generation to generation, and each family adds its own special touch.

Although the Sheker Bura is considered a pastry rather than a cookie, I find it similar enough to cookies like Rugelach that I felt it was fine to be included. Besides, the only other recipe that I could find that was closer to a cookie than this was Halva, and since in the United States we don't necessarily have access to hand picked wheat nor do we know how to "malt" it, I thought I'd steer clear of that one!

Sheker Bura

7 oz blanched almonds, coarsely ground
5 oz sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/8 cup water

9 oz butter, diced
18 oz all purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 cup cold water

In a small bowl, combine the almonds, sugar and cardamom. Add water and mix thoroughly to moisten the filling. Cover and set aside.

Place the butter, flour and egg in a food processor. Add the cold water and run the food processor until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Transfer the dough to a work surface. Knead until dough is smooth.

Shape the dough into a log approximately 2 inches wide. Cut the log into 1 inch slices. Roll each slide into a small ball. Place the balls on a plate. Cover with pastic wrap and refrigerate for approximately two hours.

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees.

Work with a few balls of dough at a time, leaving the remaining balls in the refrigerator until you are ready to work with them.

With a rolling pin, roll each ball out into a disk approximately 4 inches wide. Place 2 tbs of the filling in the center of the disk and close the disk into a half-moon shape, pinching the edges to seal. To decorate the edges, pinch the dough and then twist, one pinch to another with the thumb and the index finger all around the edge. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to bake to keep them from drying out.

(Traditionally, there is a special set of tweezers used to decorate the cookies in a fish scale design. If you do not have the proper equipment, simply dust powdered sugar over the finished cookies.)

Bake on baking sheet lined with parchment for approximately 30 minutes or until the surface is lightly browned.

Recipe courtesy of Anna Maria Volpi.

Austria: Linzer Augen

The Linzer torte, named for the City of Linz, is one of Austria's most famous desserts. Believed to have originated in the City of Linz, the earliest written recipe for this delectable treat was found in the archive of the Admont Abbey dated 1653.

Traditionally this torte consisted of a crust made with flour, ground nuts (traditionally almonds although I have also seen hazelnuts used), sugar, egg yolks, spices and lemon zest that was filled with preserves (traditionally black currant) and then topped with a lattice crust.

Linzer cookies use the same ingredients as the Linzer Torte but present them in a different way; that is, two cookies are sandwiched together with a layer of preserves or jam. Traditionally these cookies are filled with black currant preserves but as black currant preserves are hard to find in North America we usually fill them with a variety of different flavored preserves, most notably raspberry. The top cookie, dusted with confectioners sugar, has a cutout so the preserves are visible. When cut into a round shape with a round cutout they are known as Linzer Augen, or "Linzer Eyes".

These have become beloved cookies on many Christmas cookie platters and at many holiday cookie exchanges here in the United States. Many different types of special Linzer cookie cutters are available with cutouts for all occasions.

Linzer Augen (Linzer Eyes)

1 cup slivered almonds, blanched or toasted
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. finely grated orange or lemon zest
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

In a food processor, finely grind the almonds using short pulses. If you are using toasted nuts, it would help to put some of the granulated sugar you will be using in with the nuts as you are pulsing them. The sugar will absorb some of the oil that is produced helping to prevent it from becoming almond paste.

In a large bowl, beat the butter on high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until combined. Reduce the speed to low. Add the egg yolk, orange zest, vanilla and almond extract and beat until blended.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon and salt into another bowl. Add the ground almonds and stir to blend. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon until blended. The dough should be soft.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide the dough into four equal portions and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

Remove 1 portion of the dough at a time from the refrigerator. Place dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper and roll out 1/4 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out the cookies. Using a 1 1/4-inch cutter, cut a hole in the center of only half of the cookies. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough, then reroll the dough scraps as needed to make 24 cutouts total, cutting holes in half of them. If the dough becomes sticky, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes before rolling out.

Using a thin spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks. Loosen the cookies with the spatula, but leave the cookies on the sheets until thoroughly cooled. To assemble, spread the solid cookies with a thin layer (about 1 tsp.) of raspberry jam to within about 1/4 inch of the edges. Dust the cutout cookies generously with confectioners’ sugar. Top the solid cookies with the cutout cookies and fill the hole with more jam. Makes 1 dozen cookies.

Recipe courtesy of Stephanie Jaworski at

Australia: Anzac Biscuits

Australia's first settlers brought with them the tastes of 18th century Great Britain. Their familiar dishes such as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, Irish stew and steamed pudding were, for most of the year, totally unsuitable for the harsh climate and conditions. Today, influenced by the large number of immigrants from Mediterranean, Asian and other countries, Australia's menus now reflect their multicultural society.

All Australians know and love Anzac biscuits. They originated during World War One and now they are well-loved biscuits that are eaten all year round in Australia and New Zealand, and are often described to visitors as being a traditional food.

The word ANZAC is, in fact, an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Anzac Day, held every year in both countries on 25 April, commemorates all who’ve died in war fighting for the two countries.

The generally accepted story is that Anzac biscuits were first made by Australian and New Zealand women to send to soliders fighting in World War One. Folklore says that ingredients, especially rolled oats and golden syrup, were relatively easy to source during war time, and that the resulting nutritious biscuits kept fresh for a long time.

Some research suggests that really, Anzac biscuits are made simply following an original recipe for Oatmeal biscuits, and that the name Anzac biscuits didn’t get mentioned until some years after the war, in 1921. But this story isn’t of interest to most Australians and New Zealands – they are happy to consider Anzac biscuits a wartime tradition and to associate it with the “spirit” of their countries.

Incidentally, the word Anzac is a protected phrase, and can’t usually be used: but the authorities in Australia have granted an exception for Anzac biscuits, on the proviso they are never marketed as Anzac cookies, only biscuits.

Anzac Biscuits

1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
4 oz butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix oats, flour, sugar and coconut together. Melt syrup and butter together. Mix baking soda with boiling water and add to melted butter and syrup. Add to the dry ingredients while it is still foaming.

Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Place spoonfuls of the dough (approx. 1 tbs each) on baking sheet approximately 2" apart. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and remove from baking sheet to racks to cool.

Armenia: Maamoul

There is a wonderful mingling of many Near Eastern cultures that have influenced Armenian cooking throughout the years, particularly from their Greek, Turkish, Syrian, Persian and Arabic neighbors. The fact that Armenia is believed to be the first Christian nation as well as it being completely surrounded by Moslems and nomadic tribes impacted its people's diets as related to farming methods and also religious beliefs.

Armenia has been occupied and divided by Russia, Greece, Turkey and Persia which is reflected in their cuisine which is complicated by name and ingredients. The people who fled Armenia during the Turkish oppression brought with them to many countries throughout the world not only their own cuisine, but that of the Turks, which explains the obviously Turkish names for many of their dishes.

Armenian cookbooks are rare with most recipes being handed down from parent to child and relative to relative. These recipes are forever changing in the translation because of the ingredients that are available and the country in which Armenian immigrants have come to call home.

Although the origin of the dishes is not always clear, there is no doubt about the excitement, warmth and good taste to be found in Armenian cooking.

Mamoul (Nut-filled Cookie)

1 lb. sweet butter, melted
1 sm. box farina
½ cup water or milk
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour


1 cup nuts, finely chopped
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. cinnamon

Mix melted butter with farina and let set overnight.

Mix water or milk together with sugar and vanilla. Combine all ingredients with flour, kneading thoroughly.

Shape pieces of dough into large oval shaped serving spoon or mamoul mold, leveling dough evenly across top of spoon. Make a slight indentation in center of dough. Place 1 teaspoon of filling into indentation. Gently press dough around filling. Arrange on ungreased baking sheet, pinch with fingers along seam on top of each mamoul.

Bake in preheated 400F oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan immediately. Cool on racks to lukewarm and cover generously with confectioners sugar, handling gently.

Makes 4 dozen

Recipe courtesy of Akaby Yaylaian

Argentina: Alfajores Danubio

The varied cuisine of Argentina clearly reflects the fact that approximately 85% of the population is of European heritage, many with strong ties to their appropriate ethnic groups and customs. Argentina is also a major agricultural producer in the world economy, particularly in beef, wheat, wine and soybeans. Alfajores Danubio (al-fah-HOR-ays dah-nu-BEE-oh) is a traditional cookie treat in Argentina. In Spanish, an alfajor is a cookie sandwich, and danubio means "Danube" reflecting a German/Austrian connection in their baking. These almond cookies are sandwiched with creamy layers of dulce de leche.

Argentina is arguably one of biggest producers of dulce de leche, exporting several tons each year. Uruguay is another major exporter. The international market for dulce de leche has expanded in recent years, particularly in the United States, where the introduction of Haagen-Dazs’s enormously popular Dulce de Leche ice cream flavor in 1998 is credited with introducing the flavor to the taste buds of the general public. Since then, the flavor of dulce de leche has found its way into the middle of Oreo sandwich cookies and McDonald’s milkshakes. Hershey’s chocolate has introduced a dulce de leche Kiss, and Smuckers produces a dulce de leche ice cream topping. Currently, Russia, Israel, the United States, and the European Union are among the largest importers of dulce de leche from Argentina and Uruguay.

(Note: Those of you who are less geographically challenged than I am have probably realized that I have skipped several countries such as Andorra, Angola, etc. While I will make every attempt to document these countries alphabetically, I'm basically skipping the hard ones and leaving them for later!)

Alfajores Danubio

1-1/3 cups butter, softened
1-3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
rind of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3 eggs
1 cup finely ground toasted almonds
1-3/4 cups flour

With a mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and extracts. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each are incorporated. Add flour and ground almonds slowly. Knead dough lightly into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to 1/4" thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out in 2-inch rounds and place on baking sheets lined with parchment or greased and floured. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

When cooled, make sandwich cookies using dulce de leche between the layers. Roll sides in shredded coconut if desired.

Dulce de Leche

1 quart whole milk
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, scald the milk. Add the sugar, extract and baking soda. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture caramelizes -- at least one hour. Store refrigerated in a covered container.

Cookie recipe courtesy of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Dulce de leche recipe courtesy of

Algeria: Makroud el Louse

Algerian cuisine traces its roots to various countries and ancient cultures that once ruled, visited, or traded with the country. Berber tribesmen were one of the country's earliest inhabitants. Their arrival marked the beginning of wheat cultivation, smen (aged, cooked butter), and fruit consumption, such as dates. The introduction of semolina wheat by the Carthaginians led the Berbers to first create couscous, Algeria's national dish. The Romans, who eventually took over Algeria, also grew various grains. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Algeria ranked among the top ten importers of grain (such as wheat and barley) in the world.

Muslim Arabs invaded Algeria in the 600s, bringing exotic spices such as saffron, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. They also introduced the Islamic religion to the Berbers. Olives and fruits such as oranges, plums, and peaches were brought across the Mediterranean from Spain during an invasion in the 1500s. Sweet pastries from the Turkish Ottomans and tea from European traders also made their way into Algerian cuisine around this time.

In the early 1800s, Algerians were driven off their own lands and forced to surrender their crops and farmland to the French. The French introduced their diet and culture to the Algerians, including their well-known loaves of bread and the establishment of sidewalk cafés. This French legacy remains evident in Algerian culture.

Makroud el Louse (Algerian Almond Cookies)

1-1/4 lb blanched almonds, whole
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs orange flower water (or 1 tsp lemon essence)
3 cups confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the almonds and sugar in a food processor and process until the amonds are finely pulverized. Remove to a bowl.
Make a well in the center of the almonds and add the eggs. Stir in the eggs with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together. Knead with clean hands until smooth.

Cut dough into 4 equal portions and remove to a floured work surface. Roll one portion out into a rope approximately 3/4" diameter. Press down with the palm of your hand to flatten the rope to about 1/2" thickness. Cut the rope on a diagonal into 1" pieces and remove to an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Remove to racks to cool completely.

While the cookies bake, bring the water and 1/2 cup sugar to a rapid boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and let boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the orange flower water.

Place the confectioner's sugar into a large bowl. Dip each cookie first in the sugar syrup and then toss in the confectioner's sugar to coat completely. Place on a rack to dry. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

Store in a well-sealed container.

(Recipe courtesy of, Ethnic Recipes & International Cooking.)

Albania: Sheqerpare

Like many of their main dishes, most Albanian desserts, which are popular all over the Balkans, trace their roots from either Turkey or Greece. Many of their desserts incorporate local fruits with citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons being the most popular.

Along with the traditional Albanian cookie, Sheqerpare, a guest in an Albanian home may be offered Turkish coffee and raki, a clear, strong brandy made from grapes.

Sheqerpare (cookies in syrup)

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup water
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 whole cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In mixer, cream together butter and one cup of the sugar until fully incorporated. Add egg yolks, one at a time, until mixture is smooth. Stir in flour and baking soda a little at a time until a soft dough forms.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/3" thick. Cut into 2 inch rounds and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place in oven and cook for 20 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

While the cookies are baking, add the remaining sugar and water to a small saucepan and cook over medium to medium-high heat for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the syrup spins a long thread. Remove from heat. Season with vanilla and cloves to taste.

When cookies are done, remove from oven and place on rack to cool slightly. Pour hot syrup over cookies. Serve at room temperature.

Yields approximately 30 cookies.
Recipe Source: "The Best of Albanian Cooking" by Klementina and R. John Hysa (Hippocrene Books, $22.50)

Afghanistan: Khatai Cookies

The cuisine of Afghanistan, mainly influenced by that of Persia, India and Mongolia, is quite unique in its ingredients, its types of foods (a tasteful mixture of the regions that surround it) and the preparation techniques. Many of their dishes are based on cereals like wheat, maize, barley and rice which are the nation's chief crops, although they also produce many rich and flavorful stews and other delicacies.

The flavors of Afghanistan include garam masala, saffron, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, chilis, leeks, coriander, parsley, mint and black pepper, although onion and tomato are also important food ingredients. Traditional Afghani cooking is high in fat due to the country’s mountain terrain and the fact that the lifestyle involves a lot of walking and it gets cold in winter.

Pakistan and Indian influences are prevalent in Afghanistan's traditional Khatai cookie, with their version called "Nan Khatai".

Khatai Cookies

1-1/2 cups white flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup corn oil
1 tbs crushed cardamom
Finely ground pistachios

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients except for the pistachios. Add in the oil and mix well until you have a smooth, soft dough.

Shape the dough into 2-inch round balls. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment approximately 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the tops of the cookies with the pistachios. Cool and serve.


Like a lot of you, I'm a cookie fanatic. I don't necessarily eat cookies, but I love to bake them and am always seeking out new recipes.

I bake hundreds and hundreds of cookies every Christmas for my neighbors, family and friends and generally try to incorporate cookies from a few different countries like Pfefferneuse, Rugelach, Spritz, etc. This year I decided to get a little creative and am challenging myself to find at least one traditional cookie from every country all over the globe.

So join me in my journey, and don't forget to give me a holla if you have some traditional recipes to add!