Back in 2013, the Press Herald held a holiday cookie recipe contest and got an overwhelming – and delicious – response. Almost 50 people responded with their family favorites, from Italian cookies to the traditional Christmas sugar cookie. There was a vegan nut cookie and a peppermint cookie with candy cane drizzle. They came with their own stories, too: some were childhood favorites, others were handed-down from the Old Country, wherever that might have been.

Kransekake Sticks Dipped in Chocolate made by Alexandra Daley-Clark of Lyman.

The winning entry, Kransekake Sticks Dipped in Chocolate, was submitted by Lyman resident Alexandra Daley-Clark, who said they were a Norwegian family favorite that she makes every year, not because they’re her favorite, but because they are meaningful to her family.

Kransekake is a traditional Norwegian celebration cake consisting of rings of butter-and-almond dough stacked in concentric circles to form the shape of a tall cone. While it’s usually served at weddings, baptisms and holidays, the dough can also be used to make stick-like cookies that are dipped on one end in chocolate and nuts.

Lebkuchen by Carol Marshburn

The second-place winner in the contest, Carol Marshburn’s Lebkuchen, came with a heartwarming backstory. In her entry, Marshburn, of Gorham, wrote, “Right after World War II, many people wondered what could be done to promote peace and prevent future wars. A retired gentleman named Gale Seaman asked the American Friends Service Committee (an aid organization working in Germany) to help him find names and addresses of German kids willing to correspond with American kids. Mr. Seaman said, ‘If American kids are pen pals with German kids, we might not have another war with them.’

“In 1947, my mother was a 16-year-old high school junior in Arcadia, Calif. She heard Mr. Seaman’s challenge, and began corresponding with a German girl named Tilla. They shared many personal details of their lives, and my mother learned that her friend’s family could not get even basic baking ingredients such as shortening or sugar in Germany at that time. My mother and grandmother began packing and sending care packages to the family, which took a long time to arrive by ship, but were greatly appreciated. My mother’s friend sent presents in return, such as beautifully knit sweaters and a rolling pin carved with picture blocks to make Springerle cookies.

“My mother and grandmother became interested in all things German, and searched out and tried German cookie recipes. My mother Mary and her friend Tilla met in Germany for the first time in 1975, and are still in touch now, 66 years after their first letters.

“This is how I came to grow up enjoying lemon-anise Springerle and pepper-cardamom Pfeffernusse.”

Earl Grey Dipper Biscuits

For when company comes over and you want to give them a little nibble of something but not a full meal, our Green Plate Special columnist, Christine Burns Rudalevige has offered up several good cookie recipes that go well with tea or coffee, or could even make a nice gift.

For instance, her Earl Grey Dipper Biscuits make use of used tea leaves to make a flavorful cookie that are wonderful dunked in a fresh cup of tea.

While Passover is over and coconut macaroons are usually associated with that holiday, there’s no reason why Standard Baking’s recipe for them have to be confined to the Jewish holiday. These take a short amount of time to make, and they differ from traditional coconut macaroon recipes because the coconut is cooked on the stovetop before they’re formed and baked, yielding a cookie that toasty and crisp outside and chewy inside. Dip them in chocolate for a little extra decadent touch.

Maple Walnut Shortbread Hearts

Because this is Maine and it would be wrong not to include a recipe with maple syrup, we offer Maple Walnut Shortbread Hearts, which Rudalevige wrote about as a Valentine’s Day treat. But we think hearts also belong to Christmas (as does shortbread).

If you’re a traditionalist, you could always alter the heart shape and turn the cookies into trees or wreaths.


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