My favorite Christmas cookies: 3 easy, tasty and zero waste compatible recipes

Thick and white snowflakes are falling outside, whilst the warm wood stove in my living room slowly heats the whole house. Next to the advent wreath there is a plate full of tasty Christmas cookies. That’s exactly how a comfy afternoon in December should look like!

When I wrote this text however, it was heavily raining outside, my business ethics exam took place in two days and when thinking about the next few days I rather felt stressed. But home-made Christmas cookies always help to contribute to a nice Christmas feeling. Baking Christmas cookies is a lovely tradition from Austria and so I want to share it with you! It is cheerful to bake Christmas cookies together, with or for friends, family and relatives.

Homemade cookies belong to Christmas – as the cookie jar belongs to Zero Waste. I want to combine cookies and Zero Waste in this article. First, I talk about general challenges and ideas to make zero waste cookies. If you already feel informed, just scroll down to read some of my most favorite recipes!

Zero waste cooki baking: Challenges and solutions

1.I always bake without using baking paper and muffin paper cases. It’s easy and cheap! Just grease the baking tray with some oil and powder it with flour. Now you can bake your cookies. This method works with almost all kinds of cookies. Only when I tried it with „Nussschäumchen “(nut cookies based on whipped egg white) it was not too easy to get them off. In that case, edible wafer paper or non-stick mats from silicon might be an alternative.

2.Classical short pastry consists of flour, eggs, sugar and butter. Flour and sugar are available in bulk shops and I usually buy my eggs from my neighbors. But I wondered how could I buy butter Zero Waste. I have never seen unpackaged butter on the farmers market or organic butter in bulk packs. And considering information given by a butter producer on the webpage of “keinplastikfürdietonne” butter packaging usually consists of aluminum and paper, cobbled together with a glue based on plastic[1]. Therefore, butter packaging needs to be thrown in the residual waste[2]. And butter which is mixed with vegetable oils respectively margarine is additionally packed in plastic shells.

3.What could I do now to bake zero waste cookies? On different webpages, I saw the possibility to make butter out of cream, which is usually available in glass jars. However, you need 1 kilograms of cream when you want to make 250 grams (g) of butter. Considering a price of 2€ per 250g organic, Demeter labelled cream a 250 g butter cube therefore would cost 8€! Therefore, for me, home-made butter is too expensive.

However, there is a great alternative for butter: Use vegetable oil for baking! I buy my oil in the bulk store or order it at my foodcoop. So, I can always use the same glass bottles and I avoid a lot of waste and transportation ways. (Disposable glass bottles have a huge impact on CO2 emissions and you always need to bring them to the container. Therefore, reusable glass bottles are more convenient as well as better for our environment.)

When I bake cookies, I always replace 100 g butter with 80 g oil. Does this work with cookies as well? It depends. Until now I did not manage to figure out the perfect short pastry recipe without butter but I will continue to experiment on this issue. And when you try out the following three recipes below, you will not miss the butter, I promise!

Further tips concerning oil & butter

1.Choose organic oil made from seeds which grow in your region. Colza oil is the kind of oil I use most of the time, but safflower oil or sunflower seed oil also grow in middle Europe so you have many possibilities to choose between different kinds of oil.

2.For a great taste, I recommend the use of taste-neutral oil. Native oil would dominate the taste of the cookies and is not suitable for every kind of bakery. However, I sometimes mix taste neutral oil with a little bit of native oil to give my cookies a special taste. This gives you a wide range of possibilities for new taste sensations! So, you can accentuate e.g. the “Zitronige Sandhäufchen” with some mild, native olive oil.

However, some cookie recipes even work without any oil (see the last recipe on this page).

3.And before you start trying out the recipes: Usually it is not necessary to preheat the oven. Moreover, you can use the residual heat for the last five minutes and thus save energy. Often, I also bake more than one kind of cookies at a time to use the heat of the oven as efficient as possible. And when I try a recipe for the first time, I always note how long my oven really needs to bake the cookies. Every oven is different and often your oven needs more or less time than it is indicated in the recipe. But now I have talked enough about ovens – let’s proceed to the cookies!

My top 3 Christmas Cookies

These recipes are sugar reduced to accentuate the taste of the other ingredients e.g. nuts, lemons and almonds. If you prefer sweeter cookies, just taste the dough and add more sugar respectively other sweeteners!

When the cookies are cooled down, store them in a cookie jar in your cellar or in the pantry and hide them well so nobody eats them all at once 😉

Appetizing almonds – “Kernige Mandeltaler”

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This recipe has its origins in one of my first attempts to replace butter with oil in a short pastry recipe. It worked, however the dough was a bit too crumbly to roll it out. Therefore, I did not use any cookie cutters but made these almond balls out of it.

Vegan possible

  • 350 g flour (I used 150 g of whole meal flour and 200 g of white spelt flour)
  • 200 g oil (e.g. mixed with 40 g of native colza oil)
  • 150 g raw cane sugar
  • 3 tbsp. apple purée or one egg
  • 80 g fine ground almonds
  • 20 g roughly chopped almonds
  • Juice from 1 little lemon

Put all the ingredients on a clean table and knead the dough. Then form little balls with your hands and flatten them. Put these balls on a prepared (greased and powdered) baking tray and bake the cookies at 356°Fahrenheit (180°C) and bake them for 12 minutes.

Luscious lemons – “Zitronige Sandkekse”

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For the dough:

  • 100 g oil
  • 70 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 130 g flour
  • 130 g starch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice

For the icing:

  • 100 g powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Grated lemon rind from one lemon

For the dough: Mix oil, sugar and eggs and add then all the other ingredients for the dough. Knead it! Then form balls (as big as a walnut) and use the upper end of a wooden spoon to make a little indentation in every ball (for the icing!). Bake the cookies at 392°F (200°C) for 15 minutes. When the cookies are cooled down, you can put the icing on them.

For the icing, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice. Then fill the indentations of the balls with the icing and put some lemon rinds on every ball.

Tip: Make these lemon cookies more colorful with some splashes of black chocolate!

“Knusprige Nusshäufchen” – Mouthwatering nut clusters

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Vegan possible

This recipe can be varied without any limits. For example, use different kinds of nuts or add raisins.

  • 100 g oats
  • 200 g hot water
  • 70 g hazel nuts
  • 70 g almonds
  • 30 g pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Pinch of cinnamon and salt
  • Grated lemon rind (from 1 lemon)
  • 70 milliliters of maple syrup
  • Edible wafer paper

First soak oats in hot water, then chop almonds, hazel nuts and pumpkin seeds roughly. Now mix all the ingredients together and put the mass onto edible wafer paper (see photo). Alternatively, you can also grease and flour the baking tray and put little nut clusters directly onto the baking tray. The nut clusters bake 30 minutes at 302°F (140°C).

These are my top 3 easy tasty Christmas cookies. Which cookies do you like for Christmas? Share your favorites!

Next blog entries:

  • What did we do at the #reducefoodwaste blogger award
  • More info about butter & oil – which option is best for you? Is butter bad for the climate and why?
  • Top 10 Christmas presents – for consciousness, happiness and zero waste
  • and many more…

 I would be more than happy if you could tell me which blog entry would be most interesting for you!  

Sources:

[1] https://keinplastikfuerdietonne.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/butter-joghurt-sahne-und-milch/

[2] http://www.air-abc.at/de/abfall/restmuell/butter-verpackungsfolien-rein/entsorgung/

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