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Christmas Cookies from Across the Globe

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Put a global spin on your holiday cookie platter with these international favorites. (To get the recipes, click on their titles or recipe links.)

  • Recipe

    Italy: Calcionelli

    These fried pockets of almonds and honey are traditionally made with Punch Abruzzo—a sweet liqueur made from caramelized sugar and the zest of lemons and oranges—but Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or dark rum works well. You can also use 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract as a nonalcoholic substitute.

  • Recipe

    Germany: Spritz

    "Spritz" comes from a German word meaning "to squirt," which makes sense when you consider how the dough is piped through a press to create the pretty floral shapes. Click here for the Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies recipe.
  • Recipe

    Argentina: Alfajores

    These sandwich cookies have justifiably grown famous far beyond their origin in Argentina: delicate shortbread cookies sandwiched with creamy dulce de leche and enrobed in dark chocolate. Click here for the Chocolate-Covered Sandwich Cookies with Dulce de Leche recipe.
  • Recipe

    France: Madeleines

    This is not your typical madeleine, nor Proust's either. Although it's based on the classic (see the variation below), it's my own invention, created to be served over the holidays, when spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves are most appreciated in both France and America. Like traditional madeleines, these are baked in shell-shaped molds and require a light hand when folding in the flour and butter. And they can be prepared ahead, even spooned into the molds, and baked à la minute, so that you can serve the little cakes warm.

  • Recipe

    Austria: Linzer Cookies

    These festive cookies are inspired by the Linzer torte, a famous lattice-topped Austrian pastry made with a rich, buttery nut crust and jam filling. The secret to this cookie’s deep, earthy flavor begins with toasting the hazelnuts. While the cookies are delicious on their own, sandwiching them with raspberry jelly adds a jewel-toned sparkle as well as a bright, fresh flavor.

  • Recipe

    Scotland: Shortbread

    Rich Scottish shortbread has few ingredients, so it's important to use your best butter here. Ground and crystallized ginger give this version an especially festive flavor. Click here for the Double Ginger Shortbread Cookies recipe.
  • Recipe

    Poland: Kolache (or Kolaczki)

    Tender cream-cheese-pastry bow tie cookies with fruit or poppy seed fillings are a Polish tradition, with similar versions hailing from other Eastern European countries. Click here for the Bow Tie Cookies With Apricot Preserves recipe.
  • Recipe

    Italy: Riciarelli

    These cookies from the almond-growing region of Siena date back to at least the 15th century. They’re melt-in-your-mouth tender, but with a nice chew. Their cracked, snowy-white tops make a beautiful addition to a cookie platter, and they’re a great option for those on a gluten-free diet.

  • Recipe

    Austria: Crescent Cookies

    Rolled crescent-shaped cookies from almond dough are popular across Austria, Germany, and even into the Italian Alps. This version puts a spin on the classic with hazelnuts instead of almonds and a little coffee for zing. Click here for the Coffee Hazelnut Chifferi Cookies recipe.
  • Recipe

    France: Macarons

    Indescribable. Cookie royalty. Unlike American macaroons dense with coconut, French macarons (pronounced mah-kah-ROHN) are pillowy soft, sweet, ethereal, ever-so-slightly chewy yet melt-in-your mouth almond sandwich cookies. They are often tinted in colors (from delicate to neon) that signal the flavor of their fillings. Part of the magic involves an overnight rest that allows the cookies to merge with their moist fillings. Jam is a classic macaron filling (and really quite good), but chocolate ganache, citrus curd, and flavored buttercreams are even more exciting. You can fill macarons with sweetened chestnut spread right out of the jar, peanut butter, Nutella, or what have you. Macarons look sophisticated and hard to make, but they are easier than you think.

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