Jan Hagel Cookies

Jan Hagel cookies are traditionally eaten at Christmas time in Holland. They can be cut into squares, rectangles or diamond shapes, but some like just cutting them into fingers to serve with ice cream, mousse or sabayon, or in fact, with a good old cuppa coffee.
Origin of the Cookie:
Jan Hagel (yan HAH-ghle) cookies are a traditional Dutch holiday sweet. They are very thin, light and flaky. They are also known as Hollanders, Janhagels, Janhagel Cookies, Dutch Almond Cookies or Sugar Hail Cookies.

Jan Hagel – Johnny Hail – is Dutch for ‘an unruly mob’ or ‘rabble,’ with hagel in the sense of ‘multitude’ or ‘swarm.’ In the cookie, the rock sugar resembles hail.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour (200 g)
  • 1 cup white sugar (190 g)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold (230 g)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ———
  • Almond slivers
  • Crystallized sugar (‘kandij’) or caramelized sugar shards (see Tips below)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Cut the butter into small cubes and add. Rub the flour mix and the butter together between your thumb and forefingers, until it resembles wet sand.Press dough onto a greased cookie sheet, roughly forming a rectangle. Brush surface with the beaten egg and decorate with almond slivers and sugar crystals or caramel shards. Bake for 35 minutes or until browned.

Using a sharp knife, immediately cut into the desired shapes (squares, rectangles, fingers or diamonds). Leave to cool and crispen.

Tips:

You can use ‘kandij’ (sugar crystals) to decorate your Jan Hagel cookies, but as I’ve found when I’ve been abroad at Christmas time, crystallized sugar isn’t available everywhere. Instead, I’ve come up with an easy alternative: simply melt 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan over a high heat (do not stir). The second the sugar liquefies completely, decant the liquid sugar onto waiting parchment paper (that you’ve spread out on the kitchen counter). Try to pour it thinly. The sugar will set into a crisp disk. Once cooled, simply chop into shards (a mezzaluna knife works well here). The larger shards will remain crispy as the cookies bake, while the smaller ones will melt into the cookies — delicious either way.

Source: http://dutchfood.about.com/od/breadspastriescookies/r/JanHagelCookies.htm

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