An illustrated family holiday cookie recipe, passed down through generations | Pittsburgh City Paper

An illustrated family holiday cookie recipe, passed down through generations

It wouldn't be a Pittsburgh wedding without a cookie table. But why keep the tradition exclusive to happy couples? In the spirit of the season, Pittsburgh City Paper is celebrating the holiday cookie table. We’re reviewing bakery favorites, family recipes, and grocery store staples until the table is full.

An illustrated family recipe

For years, during the month of December, the cookie plate would be passed around the Sunday lunch table at my grandmother’s house. It often came after dessert and even if you were already stuffed, it was worth taking two or three. I remember an extra fuss was made about lebkuchen because you had to wait for them to be ready. The cookies were made soon after Thanksgiving and then stored in a stone jar in the cool den until Christmas, letting the flavors ripen.

This particular recipe comes from my great aunt’s family, passed down and changed through the generations on her grandmother’s side, and given to me by my grandmother. In the past the cookies were made with cream that had gone sour from cows milked in the barn — now, the recipe calls for sour cream. I never liked them much but am giving them another go this season. While lebkuchen, a traditional German Christmas cookie — somewhat similiar to gingerbread that originated as a honey cake — can be spiced with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, and cardamom, this recipe goes sweet with a dates, raisins, and soghum syrup. I’ll see if I’ve changed by mind when I taste them at the end of December.