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A Classic Christmas Cookie with Pennsylvania Dutch Roots

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Photo by James Ransom

We found this recipe in Amanda Hesser's copy of Gregg Gillespie's 1001 Cookie Recipes (a remarkably comprehensive and lovable book that survived the culling of her massive cookbook collection this fall).

Other recipes for this soft, almost biscuit-like cookie call for sour cream or buttermilk, which blogger Irvin Lin writes was a smart way for bakers in Pennsylvania Dutch country to use up soured milk. Though this version has neither, its straight-laced comforts are brightened by currants and a bit of lemon juice and zest, and a lashing of sweet glaze—which is all they need.


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Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas Cookies

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Makes 7 to 8 dozen cookies


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups vegetable shortening
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups currants

Vanilla Icing

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

What's your favorite Christmas cookie? Do you have any Pennsylvania Dutch baking recipes in your own family? Tell us in the comments below!