Yesterday Dresden’s Striezelmarkt opened its doors and that means Christmas markets all over town. It seems that Christmas season already started two months ago and these are the last preparations before you will hear Christmas songs at every corner for a whole month. And while all of this is usually too early and too much for me there is one thing I really look forward to: Baking cookies and other treats. I admit that I started planning recipes and shopping lists two weeks ago. My family and co-workers already had their fair share of Christmas cookies and there are more to come. You can find them (and the ones I have posted over the last couple of years) by clicking on the Christmas bakery badge on the right side of this blog. I’ll try to concentrate on traditional German holiday baked goods but I also have some more non-traditional recipes to share. If there’s something you’d love to see here, please feel free to leave a comment or email me.
Let’s start with a simple shortbread cookie that shines because of two special ingredients: vanilla and anise seeds. I know there are man people who despise anise, but I love both its smell and taste. If you really like anise, you can increase the amount of seeds up to 1 1/2 teaspoons. And if you don’t like anise, you could use some ground cardamom instead or just double the amount of vanilla.
Anise & Vanilla Shortbread Cookies (makes 30-60 cookies, depending on the size of the cutter)
110 g (1/2 cup) soft, refined coconut oil
80 g(1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup plus 1 teaspoon) sugar
180 g (1 1/2 cups) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground vanilla (or the same amount scraped from a bean)
1 teaspoon whole anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy milk
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place oil and sugar in a bowl and beat until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients except for soy milk. Beat into a crumbly mass. Add soy milk and use your hands to knead into a smooth dough. Divide into two balls. Place one between two sheets of plastic wrap. Roll the dough out 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick. Cut out cookies. (My cutter was on the smaller side, I got 58 cookies alltogether.) Place on baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place on a baking rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.