These delicious cookies have been made by the women in my family for generations and are still a part of our annual Christmas baking.
(go here for metric to imperial conversion)
250 g butter
250 g sugar
4 teasp. vanilla sugar*
3 egg yolks
500 g flour
2 teasp. baking powder
1 tblsp. milk
flavoring to taste (lemon peel, orange peel, vanilla, cinnamon….)
Whisk the butter together with the sugar and vanilla sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks and whisk again. If you want to use flavoring, add it now. Mix together the flour and the baking powder, sieve and add to the butter-sugar-mixture spoon by spoon. If the dough becomes too stiff, add a little milk.
Let rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. The dough should be firm and not at all sticky (add a little more flour if you can’t knead it easily by hand).
Form different shapes by pressing it with a cookie press or a similar tool (a meat grinder with a small opening works great – that’s what my great-grandmother used). It won’t be stretchy enough for cutting out cookies!
Bake until slightly (!) brown at the edges by 175-200°C. Baking time differs with the thickness and shape of the cookies.
Let cool on a cooking rack. If you want, dip one half of the cookies into melted chocolate (or icing) and let dry.
* if you live in an area where you can’t get your hands on vanilla sugar, you can use either vanilla extract (1 teaspoon extract equals about 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar) or simply make your own: cut one vanilla bean into pieces, scratch/stab the pieces with a sharp knife to release the flavor and put into a small box. Fill with plain sugar, close the box and lest rest for a few days. The sugar will get a nice vanilla flavor. You can refill the sugar a couple of times before the vanilla bean doesn’t release its flavor anymore (mine’s already a couple of months old and still works.
Vanilla sugar is great for baking, but also to sweeten your coffee, hot chocolate etc.