Cookies and Christmas Traditions

This time of year gets most people thinking about holiday traditions, so I decided to share a couple of mine.

First off, I am a European mutt as far as heritage is concerned, but if I did have strong ties to any of my ancestral heritage, it would be to my Swiss roots because of my Great Grandma Hirschi.

Anyone who knew my Grandma Hirschi would tell you she was one remarkable lady. She lived on her own until the age of about 95 and was a little spitfire!  She was hardworking and superstitious. She was a remarkable woman who would be a great role model for anyone and she definitely was for me. I know she was very instrumental in shaping my mother’s life. Her name was Ruth and she embodied her Biblical namesake in every way. Her compassion and service is still remembered by everyone who knew her. What can I say? She was fantastic. 

I will probably never go a Christmas without thinking of her and then thinking of Bratzelis. Bratzelis are a traditional Swiss Christmas cookie.  Similar to a Pizelle (but different in their own right), these cookies are delish. The original recipe dates back several generations and the copy my mother has was hand written by Grandma Hirschi, and in her own sassy fashion an added note, “This recipe is much better than Aunt Edna’s”. LOL! =) Gotta love the honesty! Well, I wonder what she would say about mine?  The below is her recipe, but I halved it and added in almond extract.  There also was a note saying that these cookies get better with each batch you make “as they take practice”.  Everyone says this is true… but I have to say, this year was the first time making them on my own (with out my mom) and I think they turned out pretty darn good. 

Bratzelis (Swiss Christmas Cookie)

2.5 cups sugar
1/2 cup whipping (heavy) cream
1 cube butter
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1  tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract (optional but I highly recommend)
1.5 Tbls. cinnamon
4 cups flour
Mix all together.
Make a stiff dough that you can make a ball (about the size of a walnut). Chill 1 hour before making Bratzelies. You cook these on a pizelle/bratzeli iron (which is like a thin waffle iron with a beautiful lacy design)  for about 45 seconds, but this will depend on  your iron.  Do NOT over cook as they harden as they cool. They are meant to be a crisp cookie. They can be eaten on their own, rolled and filled with a bavarian type cream or served with icecream. If you do it while their still hot you can shape into a bowl to hold the ice cream. I did this, but you can’t really see it in the photo.

I hope you enjoy these.  Some other Christmas traditions we have are Christmas PJs (like a lot of people)… but something unique to our family is every Christmas eve, we have a picnic underneath (next to=) the Christmas tree for dinner.

I LOVE Christmas traditions!!  Please share yours in the comments below.  Also, feel free to add photos of your holiday decor in the Design Forum if you’d like (you do need to create a membership to do that, but it’s pretty easy)!

I am in the midst of a mini Kitchen makeover, I cannot wait to share the results as they are going to be great and the $$$ was hardly anything.

Merry Christmas and Happy Thursday!

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