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Heritage Cookies of the Old and the New World

Heritage Cookies of the Old and the New World

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Heritage Cookies of the Old and the New World

836 pagine
4 ore
Nov 12, 2019


More than 250 classic cookies from the Old Country and the New World, ranging from easy, to elegant, to utterly extravagant!

What began twenty years ago as a culinary love poem from an American husband to his Czech-American wife has now evolved into an international tour de force redolent with sweet and spicy goodness. You will rely on this book time and time again for new ideas from our collective immigrant heritage of dimly remembered masterpieces.
Meet Scott Pavelle, Esq., a modern-day Renaissance Man who bakes to relax from his law practice.
Meet Kate Pavelle, his writer wife, who struggles to fit her jeans under the onslaught.
Whether you're an experienced baker or a novice, this expansive collection of European and American holiday (and other) cookies will enrich your repertoire with scores of recipes you've never seen before, and perfected versions of the ones you know.

Featuring mouth-watering photographs by eminent food photographer Laura Petrilla, this enticing cookbook will make a great gift for your family bakers – or for yourself.


Nov 12, 2019

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Heritage Cookies of the Old and the New World - Scott Pavelle


Of The Old And New World




Photographs by LAURA PETRILLA

Mugen Press

Pittsburgh, PA

Copyright © 2019 by Scott Pavelle and Kate Pavelle

Photography copyright © 2019 Laura Petrilla except where specifically noted. Additional photographs are by Kate Pavelle, Miranda Pavelle, or Scott Pavelle and © 2019 by Mugen Press.

Additional artwork copyright © 2019 by Miranda Pavelle

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the express written permission of the publisher, with the exception of editorial use in critical reviews or articles. All inquiries should be addressed to Mugen Press Inc., 110 Isolda Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15209, USA.

Mugen Press books may be purchased in bulk at special discounts for sales promotion, corporate gifts, fund-raising, book clubs, or educational purposes.


Table of Contents

Title Page


Cookies & Fillings To Use Up Extra Egg Whites

Cookies & Fillings To Use Up Extra Egg Yolks

Acknowledgments & Inspirations


Extra Spice From Kate

Methods and Ingredients

Cooking Methods


Drop Cookies

Chocolate Crinkle (Kringle) Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Variations

Chocolate Chip Cookies (The Perfected Original)

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Thin & Crispy)

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Cakey/Puffy)

Baci di Dama (Lady Kisses)

Chocolate Clove Cookies (Mostaccioli)

Peanut Butter Cookies

Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Smooth Peanut Butter Cookies

Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies

Our Oatmeal Apple Cookies

Classic, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Ginger Citrus Cookies

Lemon Drops a/k/a Lemon Knots (Anginetti)

Ricotta Cookies

Butter & Sugar Cookies

Sandies (French Sablés)

Sugar-Topped Sablés

Browned Butter Sablés

Butter Cookies

Vanilla Butter Cookies

Chocolate Butter Cookies

Coffee-Cinnamon Butter Cookies

Swiss Mailanderli

Sugar Cookies

Sugar-Crust Versions (Our Standard)

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Almond (Or Other Extract) Sugar Cookies

Stained Glass Cookies

Swedish Drommar (Dreams)

Dried Berry Sugar Cookies

Chewy Sugar Cookies

Brown Sugar Cookies

Checkerboard and Pinwheel Cookies

Butter Jellies

Swiss Spitzbuben

Grandma Kandler’s Butter Jellies

Linzer Tart Cookies

Almond Cookies

Hazelnut Squirrels

Scott’s Key Lime Pie Cookies


Scottish Shortbread

For Shortbread Cookies

For Shortbread Cakes

For Sandwich Cookies

Ultra-Traditional Scottish Shortbread

Norwegian Sandbakkel


Citrus Meltaways

Buttered Rum Meltaways

Scandinavian Rye Flour Cookies

Zaleti (Italian Cornmeal Cookies)

Zaleti Variations

Salted Honey Cookies

Lemon/Lime Cookies

Dorie’s World Peace Cookies

Spritz Cookies

Almond-Heavy Spritz Cookies

Butter Wreaths and Other Shapes


Chocolate Thumbprints

Strawberry Soldier Buttons

Blueberry Soldier Buttons

Raspberry Soldier Buttons

Filled-After Thumbprints

Nut Horns

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Russian Wedding/Tea Cookies

Italian Wedding Cookies

Serbian Orasnice


Chocolate Nut Horns

Hamantaschen (Made With Oil)

Bizcochitos a/k/a Biscochitos (Made With Lard)

Spice Cookies

European Spice Cookie Blends

German/Dutch Spice Cookie Blends

Spice Snap Blends

Molasses Gingerbread Blends

Blends for Honey Gingerbreads and Spice Cookies

Blends for Spiced Molasses Wafers and Snowflakes

Classic Ginger Snaps

Fresh Ginger Snaps

Cardamom Snaps

Cardamom & Cinnamon Snaps

Anise Snaps

Icelandic Spice Snaps


Polish Honey Gingerbread Snaps/Cookies (Pierniczki)

Rolled-and-Shaped Pierniczki


Pfeffernusse (Pepper Nuts)

Mediterranean Sesame Seed Cookies

French Sesame Seed Butter Cookies

DiMaggio Family Sesame Balls (Biscotti di Regina)

Sicilian Sesame Fingers (Giuggiulena)

Greek Sesame Braids (Koulourakia)

Molded Cookies

Springerle (the Ultimate Molded Cookies)

Cocoa & Orange Springerle

Speculaas-Spiced Honey Springerle

Other Springerle Variations

Molasses Gingerbread

Pardubice Honey Gingerbread

Anne’s Moldable Lemon Butter Cookie

Some Sample Variations

Nut Dough Speculaas (Dutch Windmills)

Czech Bear Paws and Chocolate Bear Paws

Czech Honey Bear Paws


Lebkuchen (With Options)

Leckerli (Honey-Spice Cookies)

Maple Bourbon Pecan Leckerli



Spanish Bar Sandwich Cookies

Cocoa Rococo

Trail Mix Rococo

Flaky Cookies

Fruit & Nut Filling

Butter Doughs

Real Puff Pastry

Quick Puff Pastry

Leavened Flaky Doughs

Baking Powder/Soda Dough = Yeast Dough

Cream Cheese (and Other Dairy) Doughs

Flaky Cream Cheese Dough Formula

Notes on Flaky Doughs

Homemade Ingredient-Cheeses & Etc.

Homemade Ricotta a/k/a Tvaroh a/k/a Queso Fresco a/k/a Paneer

Homemade Cottage Cheese

Homemade Farmer’s Cheese a/k/a Quark; and Cream Cheese

Homemade Neufchatel Cheese

Homemade Yogurt, Greek Yogurt, and Yogurt Cheese


Rugelach Horns

Rugelach Rolls

Northern Stars/Pinwheels (Joulutortut)


Flaky Foldover Cookies

Goose Feet (Gusinie Tlapki)

Palmiers a/k/a Elephant Ears

Meringue Cookies

The Meringue Trio – French, Italian, and Swiss

Cinnamon Stars (Zimtsterne)

Vanilla Sticks



Bulgarian Orehovki

Coconut Macaroons

Bittersweet Chocolate Macaroons

Chocolate Meringues

Quick Chocolate Glaze

Anise Drops

Anise Chrabeli (Little Claws)

Meringue Kisses

Double Nut Meringue Kisses (Filled with Dacquoise)

Royal Icing Ornaments

For Snowflake Ornaments

Macarons – The Master Method Explained


Salted Caramel Macarons

Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry & Vanilla Macarons

Chocolate, Nutella,® Coffee & Matcha Macarons

Lemon, Lime & Similar Macarons

Waffles & Wafers


Vanilla Pizzelles

Chocolate Pizzelles

Almond Pizzelles


Lemon Wafers

Lemon Waffle Wafers

Lemon Sandwich Wafers

Lime Wafers


Moravian Snowflake Cookies

Royal Icing

Scandinavian Cocoa Snowflake Cookies

Benne (a/k/a Sesame) Wafers

Benne Cookies

Spiced Benne Wafers/Cookies

Peanut Wafers

Almond, Hazelnut, Walnut, & Etc. Wafers

Lace Cookies

Citrus Lace Cookies

Oatmeal, Peanut, Pecan & Other Nut Lace Cookies

Sesame & Other Seed Lace Cookies

Spiced Lace Cookies

Rum Lace Cookies

Florentine Lace Cookies

Fairy Gingerbread

No-Bake Cookies


Oreo® Truffles


Rum/Bourbon Balls

Chocolate Rum/Bourbon Balls

Gozinaki (Walnut-Honey Squares)

Comparing to Nut Brittle Candy

Chocolate Salami (a/k/a Saucisson, a/k/a Sausages, Etc.)

Brazilian Brigadeiros

Chocolate Truffles

Flavored Chocolate Truffles

Coffee Truffles

Not-Quite-A-Cookie Cookies

Fig Watertowns


Finikia a/k/a Melomakarona (Greek Honey-Walnut Christmas Cookies)

New York City Black & Whites

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Peach Cookies


Tender Biscotti

Extra Crispy No Fat Biscotti

Spiced Biscotti

Mandelbrot (Almond Bread a/k/a Jewish Biscotti)

Cream Cheese Crust For Tassies

Blind-Baked Cream Cheese Dough

Chocolate Crust Option

Pecan Tassies

Maple Pecan Tassies

Baklava Tassies

Persian Baklava Tassies

Banbury Tea Tarts (Fruit Filling)

Infinite Banbury Tart Variations

Bakewell Tassies (Almond-Berry)

Optional Fondant Coating

Bakewell Variations

Cheesecake Tassies

Peanut Butter Cup Tassies

Hazelnut, Almond & Other-Cup Variations

Caramel Tassies

Salted Chocolate Topping

Caramel Tassie Frosting

The Famous Tassie Cheat (Blind Baked Crusts)

Lemon Curd Tassies

Lime Curd Tassies

Pineapple Curd Tassies

Raspberry Curd Tassies

Sour Apple/Berry/Cherry Curd Tassies

Chocolate Ganache Tassies

Coffee Ganache Tassies


Chocolate Madeleines

Browned Butter & Honey Madeleines

Lavender (or Other Herb) Madeleines

Lemon Madeleines


Classic Fruit Fillings

Apricot Filling

Fig Filling

Prune Filling (a/k/a Lekvar a/k/a Povidla)

Master Recipes: Fruit & Nut Fillings

Fruit & Nut Filling

Mixed Fruit Filling

Sweet Nut Filling

Apple Walnut Filling

Miscellaneous Fillings

Peanut Butter Filling

Poppy Seed Filling

Sweet Cheese Filling

Spanish Bar Cream Cheese Filling

Chocolate Fillings

Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

White Chocolate Ganache

Coffee Ganache

Spice Ganache

Caramel Fillings

Caramel Candy Filling (from Millionaire’s Shortbread)

Dulce de Leche from Sweetened Condensed Milk (Three Methods)

Dulce de Leche from Whole Milk

Caramel Stroopwafel Filling

Caramel Ganache

Salted Caramel Buttercream

Curd Fillings

Lemon Curd

Lime Curd

Pineapple Curd

Raspberry Curd

Sour Apple/Berry/Cherry Curd

Dairy Free Curd

White Chocolate Curd

Buttercream Fillings (Italian Meringue Method), with variations

Vanilla Buttercream

Mint Buttercream

Spice Buttercream

Lemon Buttercream

Strawberry Buttercream

Glazes, Icings and Frostings

Plain Hard Glaze

Citrus Glaze

Satin Glaze

Rum Glaze

Thin Glaze

Melted Chocolate Glaze

Quick Chocolate Glaze

Chocolate Spice Glaze

Citrus Cream Cheese Icing

Zimtsterne Lemon Icing (Bake-on)

Royal Icing

Browned Butter Frosting

Vanilla/Chocolate Frosting

Caramel Tassie Frosting

Chocolate Fondant

Food Processor Fondant

Greek Honey Soaking Syrup



Liquid Measure

¹/5 tsp. = 1 ml = 1 cc

1 tsp. = ⅓ tbsp. = 5 ml/cc

1 tbsp. = 3 tsp. = 15 ml/cc

2 tbsp. = 1 fluid oz = 30 ml/cc

4 tbsp. = ¼ cup = 59 ml/cc

5⅓ tbsp. = ⅓ cup = 79 ml/cc

8 tbsp. = ½ cup = 4 fluid oz = 118 ml

16 tbsp. = 1 cup = 8 fluid oz = 237 ml

2 cups = 1 pint = 16 fluid oz = 473 ml.

2 pints = 1 quart = 946 ml

1 liter = 1 quart 1½ tsp.

1 gallon = 4 quarts = 3.8 liters


1 oz = 28.4 g (recipes round off)

1 pound = 16 oz = 455 g

1 kilo = 2.20 lbs.

English to Metric

1 tsp. = 5 ml. = 5 cc

1 tbsp. = 15 ml. (cc)

1 cup ≈ ¼ liter

1 pint = .4732 liters

1 quart = .9463 liters

1 gallon = 3.785 liters

200° F = 95° C

225° F = 110° C

250° F = 120° C

275° F = 135° C

300° F = 150° C

325° F = 165° C

350° F = 175° C

375° F = 190° C

400° F = 205° C

425° F = 220° C

450° F = 230° C

Volume To Weight (Based On 1 Cup)

Flour, dip-and-sweep = 5 oz = 140 g

Bread flour = 5½ oz = 155 g

Cake flour = 4⅔ oz = 130 g

Semolina & Farina = 7 oz = 200 g

Tapioca starch, cornstarch, etc. = 4¼ oz = 120 g

Cocoa Powder = 3¼ oz = 90 g

Oats, Rolled = 3¼ oz = 90 g

Granulated sugar = 7 oz = 200 g

Packed brown sugar = 7 oz = 200 g

Powdered sugar = 4 oz = 115 g

Honey & Molasses = 12 oz = 340 g

Egg (1 large whole) = 2 oz = 60 g

Egg (1 large yolk) = ⅔ oz = 20 g

Egg (1 large white) = 1⅓ oz = 40 g

Candied fruit, chopped = 2⅔ oz = 75 g)

Raisins = 5¼ oz = 150 g

Chocolate, Chopped & Chips = 6 oz = 170 g

Almonds, Sliced/Chopped = 3 oz = 85 g

Almond flour = 3½ oz = 100 g

Almonds, Ground = 3¾ oz = 110 g

Almonds, Slivered = 4¼ oz = 120 g

Almonds, Whole = 6 oz = 170 g

Hazelnuts, Whole = 5 oz = 140 g

Peanuts, Chopped = 4½ oz = 130 g

Peanuts, Whole = 5¼ oz = 150 g

Peanut Butter = 9³/16 oz = 260 g

Sesame Seeds = 5¼ oz = 150 g

Walnut/Pecan Halves = 3½ oz = 100 g

Walnuts/Pecan, Chopped = 4 oz = 115 g


1 cup Jumbo = 4 Whole = 5 Whites = 11 Yolks

1 cup XL = 4 Whole = 6 Whites = 12 Yolks

1 cup Large = 5 Whole = 7 Whites = 14 Yolks

1 cup Med. = 5 Whole = 8 Whites = 16 Yolks

1 cup Small = 6 Whole = 9 Whites = 18 Yolks


1 stick = 8 tbsp. = ½ cup = ¼ lb. = 4 oz = 115 g

1 lb. = 4 sticks = 2 cups = 32 tbsp. = 455 g.

Sugar, Brown Sugar, Honey & Molasses

1 pound of honey ≈ 1⅓ cups.

Sugar and brown sugar are ≈ ⅔ as sweet as honey.

To substitute for 1 cup of honey in baked goods:

* Use 1½ cups of sugar or brown sugar;

* Increase a liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup; and

* Reduce the baking soda, if used, by ½ teaspoon.

Light brown sugar = [1 cup sugar + 1 tbsp. molasses] or [¼ cup sugar + ¾ cups dark brown sugar]

Dark brown sugar = [1 cup sugar + 2 tbsp. molasses] or [1 cup light brown sugar + 1 tbsp. molasses]

Citrus Fruit

1 lemon = 2-3 tbsp. juice ≈ 1-1½ tbsp. zest

1 lime = 2 tbsp. juice ≈ 1 tbsp. zest

1 orange = 4 tbsp. (¼ cup) juice ≈ 2 tbsp. zest

1 grapefruit = ⅔ cup (10-11 tbsp.) juice ≈ 3 tbsp. zest

Cookies & Fillings To Use Up Extra Egg Whites

+2 Whites = Brunsli

+2 Whites = Coconut Macaroons

+2 Whites = Chocolate Meringues

+2 Whites = Sweet Nut Filling

+2 Whites = Meringue Kisses

+3 Whites = Meringue Kisses with Dacquoise

+3 Whites = Italian Buttercream

+3 Whites = Zimtsterne

+3 Whites = Vanilla Sticks

+3 Whites = Royal Icing Ornaments

+4 Whites = Amaretti

+5 Whites = Macarons

+6 Whites = Bittersweet Chocolate Macaroons

Cookies & Fillings To Use Up Extra Egg Yolks

Make meringues and you will run into a problem. How to use up all those leftover yolks? After many years of frustration we finally compiled this list:

+1 = Chocolate Crinkles

+1 = Sandies (French Sablés)

+1 = Linzer Tart Cookies

+1 = Key Lime Pie Cookies

+1 = Spritz Cookies

+1 = Thumbprints & Soldier Buttons

+1 = Lemon/Lime Cookies

+1 = Koulourakia (egg wash)

+1 = Totenbeinli (egg wash)

+1 = Lemon Wafers

+1 = Pepperkakor (an option)

+1 = Nut Horns

+1 = Bizcochitos

+1 = Madeleines

+1 = Fig Cucciddati

+2 = Butter Cookies

+2 = Butter Jellies

+2 = Zaleti

+2 = Sweet Cheese Filling

+3 = Mailanderli

+3 = French Sesame Butter Cookies

+3 = Chocolate Salami (an option)

+3 = Fig Watertowns

+3 = Lemon Curd

+4 = Grandma Kandler’s Butter Jellies


We built this book over a span of decades in which Scott merrily rooted around the local libraries searching for classics new and old, scoured the Internet in search of alternate versions, and played with Kate to find the common threads and refine those recipes to perfection. But the actual art of cookie making... that we learned from a more limited set of authors and ancestors. They deserve some express credit and thanks. These are just a few.

Grandma Kandler, a/k/a Jarmila Musilova Kandlerova, a/k/a Kate’s maternal grandmother. You may notice a distinct Czech accent to a lot of this book because Kate’s the one with a personal cookie heritage. That goes back to Grandma Kandler, who filled each Christmas with sounds and scents and flavors and joy even under the material shortages created by the repressive Communist regime of the 1960’s and 70’s. Every generation builds on a pyramid of inspiration and shoulders from those who came before. Grandma Kandler is the cornerstone of ours.

Jarmila Stoy, Kate’s mother. She brought these cookies and their traditions to America when the family immigrated here in 1980. Finding the gluten content and the texture of U.S. flour is very different from the one in Europe, she forged on through countless failed batches to adapt the family recipes cookies so respectable that her cookie tray inspired Scott to adopt, continue, and expand the tradition.

Maida Heatter. Maida’s da best. Maida’s da bomb. Maida’s da Queen of All Things Cookie. Her recipes are easy, precise, reliable, readable, and superb in every other way you could possibly imagine. If you haven’t read Maida Heatter’s books, put this one down, go to your local bookstore or library, and get them. That’s the single best recipe we have to offer.

As we write this Mrs. Heatter is a lady of venerable age living in Florida, long since retired but still adored by millions of bakers around the world. Tens of millions. That’s not an exaggeration. We are among them. One of our first printed books will go in her direction with our sincerest thanks and admiration.

Maida’s da best. Maida’s da bomb. Get thee hence and read her books.

Shirley Corriher. Who could follow Maida Heatter? No one. But the next in line has to be the lady who wrote that indispensible food science tome: Bakewise. We’ve only lifted one or two recipes from that book for this collection – Moravian Snowflakes along with some tweaks to improve our older Lace Cookie formula – but we both want to say that we are better bakers because we read it. You will be too.

Dorie Greenspan is the first lady of modern, creative cookie cookery. Her wonderful Dorie’s Cookies came out as we were in the throes of final recipe testing but she would have been on this page anyway because of all the work we enjoyed beforehand. Indeed, Dorie deserves extra credit because she’s the one who brought Pierre Hermé a/k/a The Genius, to English speakers like us. How good is Hermé? Let us tell you a story.

We have a friend named Jean-Marc Chatellier who owns a local bakery that has become famous for a 2-3 hour drive in any direction. Again, it’s not an exaggeration. People drive to Pittsburgh from Ohio and West Virginia just to get his cakes and croissants. Jean-Marc grew up in France, trained in France, emigrated from France, and makes French pastries every bit as good as what you’ll find in France. We’ve been there; we’ve compared; and we personally attest to that truth. So: A few years back Jean-Marc took his family on a research trip to Paris. He came back almost offended. Indignant!

I can do that! They’re not all that special. Then he paused. Okay, Hermé is pretty good. But the rest of them... I can do that!

We couldn’t just ignore an opening like that: So you bow to Mecca but the rest are mortal?

Well, yeah. But what’s wrong with that?

Absolutely nothing, Jean-Marc. You are a true master. Museums are filled with paintings by men no better with their oils than you are with flour and butter. But there’s only one Da Vinci. We love Dorie Greenspan’s work for it’s own sake, but we owe her for the introduction to Mssr. Hermé as well.

Cook’s Illustrated a/k/a America’s Test Kitchen. These good people do yeomen’s work testing and retesting each recipe, and more importantly explaining what choices they made along the way. Two of our favorite recipes in the book originated here, the Lemon/Lime Sugar Cookies, with that wonderful trick of working zest into the sugar, and Millionaire’s Shortbread, which features an equally wonderful shortbread crust. True, there is no Mrs. Illustrated or Mr. Test in the same way there's a Maida, Shirley or Dorie, but the work itself is every bit as good, and has been, month after month, for decades. Thank you.

Christopher Kimball. The founder of Cook’s Illustrated et. al. who has now moved on to a new venture called Milk Street. Much like in his first venture, A+ for substance, including an article on the Polish gingerbread cookie Pierniczki, which we were sure that only immigrants knew about in America. Signs look good for the new project, but this is a thank you for all the work over the years. Mr. Kimball has done as much as anyone to raise all boats in the sea of American cooking.

There are others we could mention. Nancy Silverton, who’s just a flat-out inspiration in everything she bakes. Rose Levy Beranbaum, whose every word is a lesson in how to cook like a professional in the confines of a home kitchen. The people who contribute to phenomenal cooking blogs like Serious Eats (Cook’s Illustrated on steroids). The people behind recipe collection sites like Allrecipes (You want versions to compare? We’ve got more versions than you can compare!). Folks such as... No, it’s got to stop. No baker is an island, or perhaps we are all islands in a long string of atolls going back through time. If you decide to tour the Sea of Cookies and find that you’ve liked our scenery, we heartily recommend the people and places above as additional ports of call.


What do you say to introduce a work that’s been 30 years in the making? Do you explain what it is (a book half filled with recipes you won’t know but will be glad to discover)? Do you explain what it isn’t (a work of creative genius, or the organized translation of professional expertise for home kitchens)? Go down the reporter’s list of who, what, when, where, why and how? Perhaps it’s best to start with a story.

Kate’s first exposure to the Greater Pavelle Clan came at a Thanksgiving dinner, which has been the holiday when Scott’s family gets together since long before either of us was born. Scott’s first holiday with Kate’s family came at Christmas, a celebration that featured the traditional array of Czech cookies (Vánoční cukroví a/k/a Christmas sweets). Butter Jellies, Nut Horns, Anisettes, Bear Paws, Rum Balls, Almond and Coconut Macaroons… It never seemed to end! This, he said after wiping off the crumbs, is a Good Thing™.

That went on for a number of years until the Wall fell, the Czechs had their Velvet Revolution, and Kate’s parents repatriated to Prague. Now we found ourselves planning our first Christmas on our own. Scott’s first question had to do with the cookie tray of course. I don’t know, said Kate. They’re an awful lot of work. I’ll probably just do two or three that I really care about.

Was that an honest reservation or a subtle plea for help? The world will never know. Scott immediately replied with something along the lines of, If you don’t want to do it, then I will. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the cookies!

But which ones? He couldn’t just try to recreate the traditional Czech recipes, because that might step on some toes and could smack of ‘taking over’ rather than ‘supporting.’ So he cast his mind back to favorites of his own childhood in New York, and began to do the research. Head out to the library. Collect 8-10 books that included some version of the target recipe, and collate them into an array of possibilities. (This was before the Internet knew about cooking). And then start baking, batch after batch with little tweaks and careful records to refine things down toward perfection. Linzer Tarts were among the first such tests and it probably took 5-10 batches before he figured out the need to reduce the nuts to flour (unheard of in the early 1990’s), figured out how to do it (grate first and then process), and realized that there’s nothing wrong with letting the cookies age for a day or two in anticipation of the holiday. It was fun, and baking made for a nice, therapeutic break from the stress of studying, and then practicing law.

January passed, and he moved on to master variations like our Key Lime Cookies, along with recipes like Cinnamon Star (Zimtsterne) variations to use up the leftover egg whites. February led to Rugelach and Kolachy and the various different flaky doughs. March loomed… and the trouble began.

Imagine being an adoring, overworked, stress-filled young husband trying to step up and help, only to be faced one afternoon with a specter of fury, her fists on her hips, and her beloved eyes flowing over with mixed tears of anger and frustration. If you keep making them, I’LL KEEP EATING THEM!!!

Scott’s bane is fudge; the real stuff, not those diluted, tainted mutations filled with crunchies that soil the exquisite smoothness of Wonka’s chocolate river. Fudge is irresistible, and that is why he never dared to explore how to make it. Now it turned out that cookies fill that niche for Kate, and she’d been helplessly standing by like a dope fiend watching the love of her life take up poppy farming as a hobby. One man’s Good Thing™ was his woman’s Not Funny™.

And thus began the tradition of giving the wealth away. Scott could bake to his heart’s content, as long as he found some other victims recipients for his overflow.

Problem solved? Not exactly. Scott’s a big reader and a history buff, and it turns out you can learn a lot about a nation from studying its baking traditions. Besides, when you go through a cookbook borrowed for one recipe, you’re bound to find a few more that look interesting. And baking is fun, therapeutic, and… You get the idea. The list of must-have favorites with fascinating backstories kept growing. By the mid-90’s his little cookie project had evolved into a two month orgy of baking and prep work for 20-25 different recipes per year. Do the math. Average yield of one recipe = three dozen cookies. 25 x 36 = 900, plus a few double batches for the favorite ones… What the heck do you do with 1,000 cookies every Christmas that won’t result in tears, and anger, and despair, and fists coiled on waiting-to-expand hips?

And thus began the tradition of giving away entire tins rather than just the occasional cookies. Lots of tins. To family, friends, the auto mechanic who gave you a break, the lady at the cheese counter who gave you some extra care, that great family you buy your coffee from, your friends who own the restaurants… And the clients, of course. And coworkers. By the year 2000 both Scott and Kate regularly started to field innocent questions as early as September. So, are we on the cookie list again…? Here’s one thing we can flat out guarantee from personal experience: the recipes in this book go beyond mere ‘good’ and into ‘memorable.’ We know this because people remembered them year after year and begged for more. By lovingly detailed description, and occasionally by name.

Around that same time we also started to field requests for a cookbook. But come on! We had what, 40 recipes nailed? And another few dozen on the work me up list? You can’t do a cookbook with only 40 recipes! Nor with 50, 60, or 70 recipes, as we kept explaining in the years that followed. And 90 might seem like a lot, but have you really looked at modern cookbooks? They’re stuffed to the rafters! But then the day comes when you hit triple digits, and you realize that all of those recipes have variations as well. Plus those lovely backstories…

So that is what you are holding. A bit more than 30 years of obsessive testing, tweaking, sharing, and family joy centered around the sometimes obscure cookies that this or that immigrant group feels are absolutely essential to the core of their holiday celebration. The majority come from European countries but we haven’t turned our noses up at cookies that evolved in the Americas either. It’s all about tradition; but tradition organized, curated, and perfected for American kitchens, ingredients, and tables.

We unearthed, developed, refined, and nailed these recipes to share them with each other, with our family, and with those we’ve come to love in the community at large. Please accept them as a gift from us. And remember the baker’s credo:

Every happy smile makes the whole world better by some tiny but measurable percentage.

And every tray of cookies is a platter full of smiles.

Extra Spice From Kate

Dear readers, bakers, and friends!

I’m Kate, and Scott is my husband. Most of what he wrote in the introduction is true. There are a few personal details where he embellished in regards to my own person. Forgive him, for he is not only a lawyer and a baker, but also a crack storyteller.

My own relationship to food, and to treats especially, harkens back to the food shortages in socialist Czechoslovakia where I grew up. Since ingredients were often hard to come by, I had never been permitted to take part in the baking ritual for fear that I might ruin the batch and waste a rare ingredient, such as raisins or hazelnuts. We came to the U.S. after I turned fourteen. Once it became obvious that we’d need to choose from several brands and packaging sizes of raisins as opposed to standing in line for just one little packet, my mother’s tight culinary fist began to loosen up. She dropped a hint here and there as she worked and I watched.

This technique was better than grandma’s. That cookie overbaked too easily. The Wondra® instantized flour, made to thicken gravies, worked a lot better than strange and too-fine American flour, which changed a beloved recipe into a mess of spreading, pasty coat buttons. The hints, tips, life-hacks, and emergency saves added up, turning Mom into a home baker of a stellar reputation in our small Czech immigrant community.

Scott and I had met in college where we had access to a kitchen. Per my request, Grandma Kandler had sent me several recipes in one of her frequent, hand-written letters rendered in ink on the super-thin air-mail paper of yesteryear. Baking sounded like a pleasant change from geology and chemistry, so I gave it a try. It kind of worked – the Butter Jellies I made were overworked, overbaked, and a bit too thin, and the Nut Horns fell apart if you looked at them wrong, but they were still received well. Mostly because they were different.

Then I began to hear my fellow students reminisce about their elderly aunts or grandmothers who had come from the old country, and who used to make something just like this, except different. They were stories that always had a sort of nostalgic longing for something beyond the venerable and much-loved American chocolate chip cookie.

Now I accept that this book started as an ode of Scott’s love and devotion to me. (This was his edit. I think I wrote something about him being horribly obsessive, and that I hoped he’d write a book to get the cookies out of his system). [NOTE FROM SCOTT: False. And I love you too.] I am honored nevertheless, and I freely admit that I didn’t make the baking life easy for him.

I diet.

I fret over saturated fats and too much sugar.

I fight to stay at my size 14.

I ask plaintively if he’ll be removing a new batch from the house this morning, or whether we should freeze it for a later give-away.

And worst of all, I have recently sprouted food allergies. Avoiding dairy is hard, and I have a certain maximum dairy contaminant limit I may not exceed. This means I can cheat and taste the occasional butter-based cookie, but I can’t enjoy them as such without fear of both short- and long term consequences.

If you think that slowed the process down, you don’t know my husband. Problems are there to be solved! Scott began to research, test, adapt, and expand his collection of naturally dairy-free cookies. Not just for me, but for all of us similarly afflicted.

Around the same time I began to develop paleo-friendly treats. Those are gluten-free, rely on nuts and oats, contain no dairy, and enjoy a lower sugar content. Regular cookie fans find they miss the sugar, but anyone on a paleo or a keto diet rejoices, because a cookie like that won’t send them into the sugar coma that precedes the infamous sugar crash. These are still a work in progress. Someday, when all other work is done, I hope to write a very short cookbook of no more than 30 recipes that are as easy on the palate as they are on the rest of the body. There are only a few of those in the present book. You’ll know them when you see them.

Scott wrote most of this book, but you’ll find interstitials from me before every section, and certain cookies come with Extra spice from Kate, a personal anecdote. I hope you find that two minds (and perspectives) are better than one.

I also want to stress that this book wouldn’t be complete without the lovely photographs. Laura Petrilla has worked hard and with great enthusiasm, coming to our home as well as inviting me to bring tins upon tins of cookies to her studio. I have learned much from watching her.

In fact, I took some photos myself. The very few taken by me are marked as such, and represent those times when our personal and professional schedules didn’t let us set aside several hours to hang out and debate the virtue of background, texture, color and lighting while sampling the goods. We are fortunate to have Laura in our lives and on this project. Aside from boundless enthusiasm, she brings food photography experience in the form of several other cookbooks, which I encourage you to find at her website:

You can find new developments on the Heritage Cookie front at Please feel free to contact us with your own favorite recipes, be they traditional or paleo-friendly!

Happy baking,


photo by MugenPress


This is a recipe book, not a manual for the novice baker. If you are really new, please start by learning from one of the true experts mentioned in the Acknowledgements section. But

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