Kerstkransjes (Dutch Christmas cookies)

Photographer: Adam
Makes approx 30 cookies

Annie is an industrial designer down here in Dunedin.  She has been with the team for a couple of years now, bringing to the group her wicked sense of humour and (when we are very lucky) some delicious Dutch treats.  In another life Annie ran a bar, and worked in catering, so she is more than qualified to be one of our official taste testers. Combining her talents for design and cooking, she is always on hand to assist with decorating baked goods – here she shares with us a traditional Dutch Christmas cookie recipe, Kerstkransjes:

“When the blog team asked me to contribute an entry on Christmas traditions, I was delighted.  As I have been an avid reader of the entries and a ‘professional’ taster of the blog food for a long time, I thought it was about time I had a go at sharing my own story and recipe!

“As I grew up in the Netherlands, Christmas has a different meaning to me than it does to most of my Kiwi friends and colleagues.  For one thing, today is the date of Santa’s visit.  Sinterklaas always brought us presents on the 5th December, not Christmas Eve.  (Maybe I could do an entry on Sinterklaas next year?)  For the adults Sinterklaas presents weren’t simply waiting under the tree, ready to be unwrapped; they always had to be camouflaged in some imaginative way that teased the receiver by reminding them of some embarrassing moments in the past year, or by pointing out a general shortcoming of their personality in a friendly, mocking way.  And every gift had to be accompanied by a fitting, rhyming poem written by the giver of the present which again ridiculed the receiver of the gift in an amicable way.  This is such a fun time of year for kids and adults alike.

“For me, celebrating Christmas in the Netherlands is about spending time with family and scoffing great food for two days straight.  The recipe I’ve chosen for this entry combines family fun with eating and is surrounded by a tradition that I would love to pass on to my kids: it’s called Kerstkransjes.  These are cookies that you hang in the Christmas tree as decoration.  My three-year-old daughter and I have so much fun making these cookies (tidying up the mess is a whole other story!), and what a great sense of fulfilment we get when we see the tree all decorated with them (if there are any actually left for that purpose, that is…).  I hope you will all enjoy baking and eating them too!”


200g flour
150g butter
1 egg yolk
100g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Shaved almonds


1. Preheat your oven to 165ºC, on fan bake.
2. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. To this add the butter, egg yolk, caster sugar and salt. Knead until you have a round ball.
3. Divide dough into three even parts (it is easier to roll out in three pieces).
4. Lightly flour a clean surface and roll dough out to ~4 mm thick.
5. Use ~60 mm diameter round cookie cutters to cut the dough. For the hole in the middle you could use the wide end of a piping nozzle (~15 mm). Carefully transfer the cookies to a lined baking tray (or two, depending on the size of your oven).
6. Decorate 1/3 cookies with shaved almonds before putting in the oven.
7. Bake the cookies for 10–12 min, until very lightly coloured on top.
8. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
9. Use your imagination to decorate the cookies without almonds on top. I drizzled some of the cookies with melted chocolate, and spread others with chocolate icing and a sprinkling of sugar.
10. To hang the cookies on the tree, take 30cm long pieces of ribbon, tie and then loop through the hole in the centre of each cookie.