Linzer Augen

While I was growing up, my family didn’t do much Christmas decorating during December. We saved that for Christmas Eve. However, we did bake up a storm in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Gingerbread, sugar cookies, “Linzer Augen” and a half dozen other traditional Austrian baked goods. Linzer Cookies come from the city of Linz, Austria which happens to be where I was born. So they’re a little bit of my heritage in sugar form.

I’ve adjusted my mom’s original German recipe to be in American measurements instead of grams. They’re easy and yummy. The trickiest part of these cookies is making sure they don’t burn. The bake time is 7-10 minutes, and ideally they should just have a hint of brown around the edges. Keep an eye on these stinkers, they’ll get dark quicker than you’d expect. Other than that, I can’t think of a way you could mess these up.

Turn on some tunes and cozy on up for a fun time filled with baking and delicious smells.


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  •  Ingredients:
    • 2 1/3 c. flour
    • 1 1/4 c. almond flour or finely ground almonds
    • 1/2 c. sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp butter
    • 1 pinch salt
    • jam, currant jam is traditional, but raspberry is common in the States
    • powdered sugar to sprinkle on top
  • Directions:
    1. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl if needed.
    2. Add the egg and beat.
    3. Meanwhile, combine together the flour, almonds, and salt.
    4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix.
    5. Refrigerate dough until firm, about 1 hour.
    6. Preheat oven to 400°F.
    7. On a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough out until it’s about 1/8″-thick
    8. Use a 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter (or drinking glass), cut out cookies.
    9. Cut out a small circle or other shape out of the center of half the cookie rounds
    10. Transfer rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
    11. Gather the scrap dough, roll, and repeat.
    12. Bake all of the cookies for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn brown. Keep a careful eye on them after 7 minutes as they can go from lightly browned to dark in less than a minute.
    13. Let them cool for a couple minutes on the pan, then transfer to a rack
    14. Spread  1/2 tsp of jam on solid cookies.
    15. Top each with one of the cutout cookies to make a tiny cookie-jam-cookie sandwich.
    16. Sprinkle all the cookies with powdered sugar to finish.

Prost! Mahlzeit!

Essie

Kinderpunsch on St. Nikolaus Day

Happy St. Nikolaus Day!

St. Nikolaus and I had a rocky start to our friendship. In southern German and Austrian homes, St. Nikolaus comes for a visit, bringing gifts in exchange for songs and kisses.

My first encounter with him at our door was when I was two. My poor father, who was in fact the man underneath the St. Nikolaus costume, still tells the story about how “pure terror” filled little Essie’s eyes when he came in the door. Even with his fake white beard removed, this is still the best picture my mom was able to snap:

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In case you’re worried I always rewarded my parents’ efforts to create special traditions and memories for their children with fear and ingratitude, I offer these pictures that later years were more successful and smile-filled:

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However, since I don’t live with my parents anymore and I have yet to convince Dave, my husband, to dress up as an Armenian Bishop, our St. Nikolaus Day celebration will be more low key. It’ll include some popcorn, Kinderpunsch, and cozy Advent candles.

Kinderpunsch is a hot beverage served in steaming mugs at German and Austrian Christmas markets. This non-alcoholic alternative to Glühwein is a mixture of cider, juice and tea.

Three years ago, Dave and I spent Christmas overseas with my Austrian relatives and visited as many of the markets as possible. We made a point to buy a Punsch at each one and kept the mugs as souvenir. Every Advent I love unpacking our little mug collection and making this Kinderpunsch recipe as a cozy tradition.


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  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1 cup apple cider
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 bag hibiscus tea
    • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • Instructions:
    1. Heat juice, cider, water and cinnamon to a simmer.
    2. Add tea bags for 2-3 minutes.
    3. Remove tea bags.
    4. Add honey.
    5. Allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes. You can just keep it on the stove quietly simmering while it fills your home with amazing smells.
    6. To serve, fill into cozy Christmas mugs and sip with loved ones, preferably with a lit candle or two or ten.
  • Serves: 2 (I highly recommend tripling or quadrupling this in a huge vat and enjoying it every evening this week)

Prost!

Essie

 

Friday Faves: Christmas Decor

Happy Friday!

Have you decked your halls? Hung your mistletoe? Filled every nook and cranny of your home with cheer and joy?

Oh no? Don’t worry, neither have we. Hannah is still living in an Airbnb and Essie hasn’t done anything other than put candles everywhere. It’s ok, decorations are meant to bring joy and not stress. Let them happen organically, as time and inspiration find you.

We enjoy simple, homemade decor, especially if the ingredients are cheap and already in our kitchens. Here are two of our favorites!


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Essie: Cinnamon Ornaments

Ingredients:

    • 1 cup of applesauce
    • 1 1/2 cups cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp cloves (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix applesauce with cup of cinnamon and cloves in kitchen mixer. Slowly add additional cinnamon as mixer continues to mix. It should leave the sides of the bowl and become a nice ball of dough. If it looks too wet, add more cinnamon. Too dry, add more applesauce.
  2. Spread parchment paper on cookie sheets.
  3. Sprinkle cinnamon like you would flour on your surface. Roll out the dough until it is 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
  4. Cut various shapes out with cookie cutters and use a tooth pick or straw to make holes for stringing.
  5. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Bake for 1.5-2 hours. Turn off your oven and allow to continue drying overnight. They should be completely dry and rock hard, otherwise put them back in the oven and give them more dry time.
  6. Thread a string through the holes, hot glue onto ribbon or just hold them up to your nose and sniff the lovely cinnamony scent.

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Hannah: Dried Oranges

So, I made these for the first time last year, inspired by my friend Libby, who lived in Germany at the time. She had decorated her beautiful evergreen tree with dried oranges and combined with the lights on the tree they look like tiny stained glass windows. I loved how festive and simple they are so it’ll be a returning decoration for our home

“Ingredients”:

    • 3 or so oranges
    • thin string
    • a tapestry needle
    • parchment paper
    • a baking sheet.

Slice your oranges into slices that are about 1/8″ thick. You want them to be thin enough that they dry in the oven, but not so thin that they’re very brittle and break.

Lay the orange slices on parchment paper on the baking sheet and bake them at the lowest temperature your oven has. Libby set hers at 100, but my parents’ oven didn’t go lower than 180, which worked just fine. Bake them until they’re dry and stiff. When I made them they were still fairly sticky and pliable. This could take quite a few hours, so pop them in while you’re doing other stuff and come back to it!

Thread your tapestry needle with the string and weave the thread through the top of the orange slice so it hangs flat. If you just thread it through once, the oranges will face to the side, which is a very different look. The stickiness of the oranges should hold them in place fairly well so you don’t have to knot the string or anything to keep them from sliding to the middle when you hang them on your mantle. If you hang them on your tree, simply thread it through the top of the orange and tie it off like a little ornament.


Tag @commonsensekitchen on the socials to give us a peek at your kitchen crafting adventures. Happy decorating!

Hannah & Essie