When hubby was a laaitie (i.e. a young boy), one of his favourite types of Christmas cookies were something he called Streifenkekse (loosely translated from the German, this means something like ‘striped cookies’). They are also known as Schwarz-Weiß Gebäck (or ‘black-and-white cookies’). So when mom-in-law came to visit us over Christmas this year, hubby’s beloved Streifenkekse were immediately placed on our Must Bake With Lissi List.
And naturally, I was on hand to document the process with my trusty camera for my loyal readers. (It also meant I couldn’t do any of the hard work of actually kneading the dough, because I had to keep my hands clean for the camera ;-).)
Are you curious to see some pictures? Shall I give you the recipe too?
- 250g butter (softened – if you live in South Africa, you can just leave it on the window sill for a half-hour)
- 200g sugar
- 2 eggs
- 500g flour
- 40g of cocoa
First, the easy part:
- Sieve the flour into a large bowl.
- Chop/slice up the butter into small pieces, and toss ontop of the flour.
- Add the sugar.
- Crack open 2 eggs and add to the bowl.
- Add a few drops of vanilla essence if you have any; Germans like to add a packet of Vanille-zucker, which is a fine sugar impregnated with a delightful vanilla flavour.
Then, the messy part:
- Use your hands to mix together all the ingredients. It’s hard work, and you will feel your muscles in your hands and arms! You will need to knead-and-knead-and-knead until you have a nice, firm ball of dough. You may need a bit more flour if your dough is too sticky (the consistency of the dough seems to depend on the moisture content of the butter, and the size of the eggs, etc….).
- Separate the dough in half.
- Add the cocoa to one half of the dough, kneading it in thoroughly, until the colour of the dough has changed from pale yellow to a pleasing dark chocolate brown. If this mixture is a little too dry, you can add a teaspoon of milk.
- Optional: This depends on whether you have a keen Cookie Dough Taster in the kitchen – and whether you are in a giving mood: Remove at least one large tablespoon from each portion of dough, for Quality Control Purposes. If you receive The Nod of Approval – or even The Groan of Delight, or The Sigh of Contentment – you will know that your dough is indeed ready.
- You can, if you like, leave the dough in the fridge for half an hour to become cooler and firmer, but a few more tablespoons of dough may disappear while you aren’t watching. Do not tarry too long!
Now, the tricky part:
- Tear off two large rectangles of wax paper, and dust a rolling pin lightly with some flour.
- Separate the lighter-coloured dough in half, and roll it out on one of the sheets of wax paper, until it’s a rectangular shape, roughly to the edges of the wax paper.
- Separate the darker-coloured dough in half, and roll this out on the second sheet of wax paper.
- You will need to flip the rectangle of dark dough over onto the rectangle of light dough (if possible, get another pair of hands to help you with this tricky manoeuvre!). Most likely, the edges of these two rectangles will not align perfectly, but don’t worry about poor aesthetics – it’s the taste that counts!
- Now, from the longer side of the rectangle, start to roll the dough into a long, thick ‘sausage’. Use the sheet of wax paper below to help you create this ‘sausage’.
- If you are a perfectionist (and if you have a rather insistent Cookie Dough Taster and Quality Controller hovering over your shoulder), you can slice off and hand over the two ends of the sausage, as these probably won’t look perfectly aesthetically pleasing.
- Slice up the rest of the sausage, placing the pieces on baking trays. (A Handy Tip: The more regular your rows are, the less likely it is that slices will mysteriously disappear while your back is turned.)
- Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
And the final part:
- The cookies will need a baking time of about 10-15 minutes at about 160-180 degrees Centigrade (less time and less heat if you use an oven with a convection fan that circulates the hot air).
- When they have turned a pleasing golden colour and have a crispy texture, they are perfect!
- The nice thing with this recipe is that you can also vary the ingredients by adding cinnamon, or ginger, or grated lemon-rind, or some all-spice.
- And if you want to make cut-out cookies, just roll out the dough a little thicker, and use whatever cookie-dough cutters you have available – whether it’s gingerbread men, or hearts and stars and moons, or various animal shapes.
- If you want to decorate the cookies before they go into the oven, you can whip an egg (or just the yolk), and lightly brush this onto each cookie with a pastry brush. Sprinkle on some hundreds-and-thousands, or some of the little silver pearls, or some chocolate vermicelli, or whatever you like to use.
- Once the cookies come out of the oven, you could also melt some dark chocolate and use a pastry brush to ‘paint’ the molten chocolate onto the cookies.
- Or you can make some zesty icing by mixing together icing-sugar with a bit of lemon juice, and brushing that onto the baked cookies.
- You can even use a straw to make a hole in the middle of your cookies before you bake them, so that you can thread a piece of ribbon through – then you can use them as rather delicious edible decorations!