Christmas Cookies: Swedish Kringla and Pumpkin Gingerbread

So if anyone else is like me, you’re way behind on your Christmas festivities (like started everything the weekend before the holiday late). I heavily rely on places with 2-day shipping because I never know what to buy until last minute. Time also ran way away from me this year – where has 2016 gone?

Luckily, I never need an excuse to bake and whipped up a few batches of some favorite Christmas cookie – one old and one new.

Let’s start with the old. This Kringla recipe is actually a recipe I shared on my old blog before, but just had to again. They have a light soft texture, mild flavor with a hint of buttermilk, and generally can be sprinkled with various colored sugar. The recipe originally came from a secretary in my dad’s office who’s a fantastic baker.  She used to send home tins full of Kringla during the holidays and one year sent the recipe too.  I took that recipe and have made them every Christmas since.

Kringla
Makes ~4-5 dozen

Ingredients

1 1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
2 egg yolks
1 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups flour*
3/4 buttermilk

Directions

Mix butter, egg yolk, salt, sugar, and a small amount of buttermilk in a mixer until fluffy.  Add remaining buttermilk, soda, and mix slightly until well blended.  Add 1 cup flour and baking powder, beat until well blended.  Stir in 2 cups of flour.  Chill several hours.  Form and bake at 350F for 8-9 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown but tops remain light colored.

To form the figure 8 shape, roll a heaping teaspoon full of dough into a “rope” twist into an “8” shape and lay on parchment lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle with colored sugar as desired.

*If you’re making these at high altitude add ~2-3T of additional flour.

This second holiday cookie recipe is just as easy to make. I had a vision to use pumpkin in gingerbread to use up some that I had from baking all of my Halloween and Thanksgiving pumpkins. I found a Spiced Pumpkin Gingerbread recipe from Ella Claire and decided to do a couple of tweaks to make them a tad “healthier”.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cookies

Makes ~2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c molasses
  • 1/4 c pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 3/4 tsp. cloves
  • 3/4 tsp. nutmeg

Directions

  1. With an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar, and molasses. Add the pumpkin and mix well. Add the egg and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine all of the rest of the dry ingredients. Slowly mix your dry ingredients into your butter mixture until combined.
  3. Wrap in wax or parchment paper and throw in the refrigerator for at least 3 or 4 hours until it firms up. Or overnight
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly flour your work surface and split your dough into thirds. Lightly pat the top of one section of dough with flour and roll out until it is about 1/8″ thick. I tried 1/4″ thick and my first sheet of men turned out a bit to blobby.
  5. Cut into desired shapes and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool completely.
  7. Pipe your favorite icing onto each of your cookies into desired design. I cheated and used a store bought Pillsbury cookie icing. I’ll admit I’m not an icing expert – about the best I can do is ganache and cream cheese frosting – neither requires hardening.

I think they turned out pretty good. I opted for the traditional gingerbread man and a snow flake design – and I’m really digging the snow flake!

Who can resist a man in a suit? I certainly couldn’t.

Completely yummy and now almost completely gone – I guess that means I just need to make more!

What are your favorite holiday cookies? Does anyone else have to hide the cookies in the freezer to keep the temptation off the counter?


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Wheat Germ Streusel

Yes, another breakfast recipe – probably because being the most important meal it is my favorite meal. And I love muffins for their easy access on weekday mornings when I’m trying to get a quick bite before the gym at 5am… ok 5:15am.

Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors and has been well before it categorized be as “basic”. Since my parents have raised pumpkins (and still sell them every fall) since I could crawl, I grew up with everything pumpkin and absolutely love winter squash. I would not be lying if I said I eat just a cup or 2 of squash for my lunch some days. Seriously, I probably have a problem and likely nearing Vitamin A toxicity with all the kale, spinach, and winter squash I inhale. And because I have the best mother in the world (does saying this make me your favorite daughter, Mom?), she packs up a duffle bag full of baked and frozen squash for me every Christmas to take back with me. These muffins are actually just remaking some pumpkin muffins she made first.

Typically when I list pumpkin in a recipe – especially for baking, I’ve likely actually used a kabocha winter squash. This means if you’re using squash as well you’ll probably have to add a little water to the batter so things aren’t as thick. I also wanted to “healthify” the streusel a bit so I subbed in some wheat germ for nuttiness and swapped out brown sugar for turbinado sugar for a little extra texture and crunch.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Wheat Germ Streusel

Makes 12-15 muffins

Ingredients

Streusel

  • 2 T Turbinado or regular brown sugar
  • 2 T whole wheat flower
  • 2 T wheat germ
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 T melted butter

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz Greek Style Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 2 T honey

Muffin Batter

  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c pumpkin puree, I used home roasted winter squash puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • Extra water if batter is too thick

Directions

  1. Whip together cream cheese, honey and sugar very well.  Use a mixer or food processor.  When it is all combined, pop it back in the fridge to stay cold while you prep the rest of the muffins.  Having this mixture as cool as possible will prevent the cream from melting away too much during baking. I like using a Greek style cream cheese because it doesn’t create pockets of air in your muffins where the filling once was.
  2. For the muffin batter, mix the sugar, oil, pumpkin, and eggs together very well in a large mixing bowl.  Then plop the flour, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves) on top of this blended wet mixture.  Stir well to incorporate and fully mix everything together. If using less oil be careful not to over mix.
  3. For the streusel, mix all the dry ingredients first, then stir in butter until combined and forms a nice crumbly texture.
  4. Line muffin tins with paper cups, or lightly oil them. Spoon about 1-2 T of batter into the bottom of each muffin.  Make sure this batter is spread thinly and evenly across the bottom of each muffin tin.
  5. Next, distribute a spoonful (approx 1 T) of the cream cheese filling in each.
  6. Finally, evenly distribute the remainder of the batter over the top of the cream cheese and sprinkle with streusel.
  7. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool before you eating, unless you are ready to deal with a molten center.

These also freeze really well.  If they last that long!

Happy baking!