James Beard

Author and Educator

This Central European holiday cookie improves if aged two to six weeks. The recipe can vary greatly, depending upon the nationality of the baker.


  • 1/2 pound (2/3 cup) strained honey
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons lard or butter
  • 3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped candied citron or orange peel, or some of each
  • 1 cup blanched slivered almonds


  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or sherry
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar


Place the honey, sugar, water, and shortening in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, stir to blend, and cool to room temperature.

Sift the flour with the baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir into the honey mixture. Add the candied peel and slivered almonds. This dough can be rolled out immediately, although some recipes insist on packing into a bowl or loaf pan, covering well, and letting it ripen for 2 to 3 days in a cool place.

Roll about 1/3 inch thick on lightly floured board. With a floured sharp knife, cut into strips about 1 x 3 inches. Place on a greased or oiled cookie sheet or pan and bake in a 300ºF oven about 10 minutes or until a very delicate brown. Do not overbake or the cookies will be very hard, although presumably they should be firm enough for dunking in coffee. Remove from the pan while still warm and cool on a rack.

To make the glaze, combine the lemon juice, hot water, and powdered sugar in a bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon or brush the glaze on the cookies to coat. When the cookies are completely cool, store between sheets of wax paper in air-tight containers to age for two to six weeks. The cookies can also be decorated with bits of candied fruit cake fruits or candied cherries.


5 dozen cookies