Highly Spiced Christmas Cookies

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

The high cost of oriental spices in Medieval Europe rendered them especially appropriate for use in festive sweets, and a great many cookie-like sweets from the late medieval tradition feature centrally in Christmas celebrations. A few notable examples:

  • • The German Lebkuchen family of biscuits stands out for its impressive combinations of flavorings including cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, mace, ginger, and anise. See gingerbread.

  • • The Low Countries’ speculaas use a similar array of spices and flavorings in biscuits of both simple form and complex molded shapes. See cookie molds and stamps and speculaas.

  • • Southern Italian mostaccioli developed from Roman biscuits flavored with grape must (hence the name) to become highly spiced biscuits (with cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove) that contain chocolate in the dough and additionally receive a coating of melted chocolate. See biscotti and grape must.