Dutch Christmas Cookies (Jan Hagel Cookies)
Updated: Feb 3, 2020
Jan Hagel Cookies (pronounced Yahn Hahgel, sometimes written as Janhagel) are shortbread cookies spiced with cinnamon, topped with almonds and pearl sugar. Jan Hagel cookies are a traditional Dutch cookie. Jan Hagel was the name used for common folk in the 1700s and in particular it was used as slang for sailors and scum or riffraff.
These holiday cookies can be cut into squares, rectangles or diamond shapes and served with ice cream or enjoyed with tea.
1 cup butter, room temperature 1 cup sugar 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cup flour ½ teaspoon cinnamon 1 egg white ½ cup sliced almonds 2 tbsp pearl sugar*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9" x 13" cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolk and continue to combine. Add vanilla. Add flour and cinnamon to butter mixture. Mix just until thoroughly incorporated.
Spread the dough evenly in the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the back of a rubber spatula or offset spatula.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg white with a fork or whisk until frothy, and then spread evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the sliced almonds evenly over the top of the egg whites. Sprinkle sugar evenly over the almonds.
Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While cookie is still warm, cut into diamond shapes: cut diagonally from one corner to about 3 inches off from the diagonal corner. Make parallel diagonal cuts about 1 1/2 inch apart. Once all the diagonals cuts are made, make a straight cut lengthwise about 1 1/2 inch apart, creating diamond shaped pieces.
Tip: Use a stainless steel dough scraper; simply push the dough scraper down straight down into the cookie, or use a pizza cutter or small kitchen knife to cut the cookie.
Let cookies cool completely; remove from the pans with a small metal spatula.
*Crystallized sugar or coarse sugar can be substituted for pearl sugar. However, Dutch kandij is used for an authentic topping on Jan Hagel cookies, but if you can't find any of these, simply make your own alternative. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan over a high heat (do not stir). The second the sugar liquefies completely, pour the liquid sugar onto the parchment paper. Try to pour it thinly. The sugar will set into a crisp disk. Once cooled, 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, adding to the flavor.