The celebration of Hanukkah has many traditions: lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, eating latkes and other foods fried in oil, and giving children gelt, or money. Hanukkah Gelt might come in the form of real coins, or, quite often, chocolate coins covered in shiny gold wrappers. Those are both lovely gifts, but might I suggest giving a third type of gelt this Hanukkah: Hanukkah Coin Cookies.
These sweet and soft Hanukkah coin cookies are a variation on a sugar cookie, with a little extra vanilla and almond flavoring added. I think they’re perfect with just a sprinkling of yellow sugar on top, but they can also be decorated with chocolate coins to make them even more seasonally appropriate.
Hanukkah Coin Cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 sticks (8 oz) cold butter
- 1 egg
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp almond extract
- yellow sprinkles
- circular cookie cutter
- Chocolate Hanukkah gelt
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, the baking powder, and maybe a pinch of salt if you’re using unsalted butter.
Place the butter and the sugar in a large bowl. If you’ve made lots of cookies in the past, you might notice that it’s odd that we’re using cold butter instead of butter that’s been warmed to room temperature. It will be more difficult to mix this butter, especially at first, but cold butter means that we’ll be able to roll the dough out right away and not have to wait an hour or two for it to chill. More work now, less work later. I’d say it’s a fair trade!
Use a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer to beat the sugar and butter together, until it’s creamy. We’re not going for a really light and fluffy texture, just so that the butter and sugar are incorporated, and there are no chunks of cold butter remaining. Since it will take a little power to smooth out the cold butter, this is not a recipe that can be done without a mixer. (Sorry to those who like to channel their inner pioneers.)
Once the butter and sugar are mixed, add the egg, the vanilla extract, and the almond extract, and mix until combined. It will look broken at first, since the cold egg won’t want to combine with the cold butter. But keep at it and it will eventually come together.
With the mixer running on low, add the dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream. This recipe has quite a lot of flour, so it might take awhile to incorporate. When it seems most of the dries have been worked in, stop the mixer and finish stirring it in by hand, so that the cookies aren’t over-mixed and tough. No one likes a tough cookie, even if it’s decorated like Hanukkah gelt.
I think it’s easiest to work with smaller batches, so divide the dough in half and place half on a sheet of waxed paper or parchment. Cover with another sheet, and roll the dough out between the two sheets until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. You could actually go even thicker if you’d like–up to a 1/2 inch if you’re a real glutton for sugar cookies.
Once the cookie dough is rolled out, use a circular cutter and cut as many circles as you can from the dough. If you’re less of a stickler about uniformity than I am, you could even forgo the rolling and cutting–instead, shape the dough into small balls and press the balls flat on a baking sheet to make rough circle shapes. It’s faster but the end result is less precise.
Pour the yellow sprinkles into a small shallow bowl. Pick up one of the circles you just cut out and press the top in the sprinkles so it’s entirely covered with yellow. The dough should be pretty easy to handle still, since we started with cold butter, but if you find it’s getting very soft, just stick it in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes until you can work with it again.
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, depending on how thick they were rolled out. They’re done when they’re just starting to color around the edges and have lost their raw shine.
You have a few decorating options with these Hanukkah Coin Cookies. Of course, they’re nice the way they are–simple, pretty, reminiscent of the shiny gold coins that are so familiar. There’s nothing wrong with leaving them plain!
But if you do want to get a little fancier, you can unwrap some Hanukkah gelt and use a little melted chocolate to stick a chocolate coin in the center of each cookie. Chocolate and vanilla-almond sugar cookies: how delicious is that?
Even more ambitious? Consider piping on some Hanukkah designs, like a menorah. All you need is some melted chocolate–chocolate chips work great. Put it into a plastic bag and snip off a tiny corner, so that the chocolate comes out in a thin stream. You can personalize your gelt cookies and write the names of family members or friends you’re giving them to.
These Hanukkah coin cookies are one more way to spread joy and happiness during the season. Happy Hanukkah!
All text and images (c) Elizabeth LaBau