Jan Hagel Cookies

Jan Hagel Cookies

A box of crisp and buttery Jan Hagel Cookies wrapped with a navy blue ribbon.

Jan Hagel Cookies

(Dutch Almond Shortbread)

 

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Who can say 2020 was a wonderful year?  I am thankful and happy to report that I can! What makes my year something special is searching for and finding my biological father. My year started with spitting into a test tube through Ancestry.  I’m excited to say the DNA test result matches were more than I expected.  Although they were not a direct match with my biological father, they were a 100% match with three of his close family members. One message sent to my matches got the ball quickly rolling, and within two weeks I had my first contact with my biological father. His name is Bernie, and imagine his surprise, not knowing that I existed until now. How someone digests such a thing I cannot say, but what I found was a very welcoming, warm and sincere man who was “pleasantly surprised” to learn of me. What I also quickly learned was that Bernie is very much a family man with a family of four children. How cool, now I have more siblings!  Wait, not quite… not only was Bernie the man being searched for by an adopted child but also one who has adopted his own four children and over time has assisted them in finding some of their biological roots. So I have to say half-siblings in spirit but not biologically. But the interesting twists in my story don’t end here.  I was adopted by a family who live in the same small town as my biological family.  I went to the same high school his children did, shopped at the same stores and practically grew up right under his nose. Ooooh how small the world just became!

I have since had the pleasure to meet Bernie, his lovely wife Joan, most of his children, two aunts, and cousins. I also have a biological grandmother still gracing the earth at 92 years old, but sadly with our pandemic world I have not been able to meet her yet.  It’s truly hard to find the words to describe what an experience it all has been and continues to be, but I do know that time spent with Bernie and his family is very much a gift and I look forward to our continuing story.

A sheet pan of freshly baked Jan Hagel Cookies resting on a wire rack.

Now, on to the Dutch Jan Hagel cookies, also known as Dutch almond shortbread. As you’ve probably guessed I have learned that I am Dutch on my father’s side. My biological grandparents immigrated to Canada from Holland in 1949 on the vessel RMS Seythia. They settled in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada to farm and raise a family of seven children. I’ve been dabbling in several different Dutch recipes but these cookies are my favourite so far. Jan Hagel Cookies are crisp, buttery and very addictive. They are a traditional Dutch cookie often made at Christmas and will become part of my holiday baking line-up from now on. I’m excited to continue to experiment in Dutch cookery and hope to share more recipes as time goes. Till then, enjoy!

A box of crisp and buttery Jan Hagel Cookies wrapped with a navy blue ribbon.

Author Compelled to Cook, adapted from Jan Hagel Koekjes.

A box of crisp and buttery Jan Hagel Cookies wrapped with a navy blue ribbon.
Jan Hagel Cookies
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    1 10"x15" tray 20 minutes
    Cook Time
    20-22 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    1 10"x15" tray 20 minutes
    Cook Time
    20-22 minutes
    A box of crisp and buttery Jan Hagel Cookies wrapped with a navy blue ribbon.
    Jan Hagel Cookies
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      1 10"x15" tray 20 minutes
      Cook Time
      20-22 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      1 10"x15" tray 20 minutes
      Cook Time
      20-22 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: 10"x15" tray
      Instructions
      1. Preheat oven to 350°F and set oven rack to the middle position. Lightly butter a 10"x15" baking tray, set aside.
      2. Cream together butter and granulated sugar. Divide the egg and add the egg yolk, cinnamon, salt and almond extract. Beat to fully combine. Add flour and mix only until dough starts to come together.
      3. Press or roll dough evenly into prepared pan. Whisk egg white with 1 tbsp water. Brush evenly onto prepared dough. Sprinkle evenly with almonds and then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Just enough to create a nice sparkle.
      4. Bake for 20-22 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 3-5 minutes and then cut into squares or diamonds while the cookie is warm and soft. Once cut, allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. The cookies will firm up as they cool.
      Recipe Notes

      -coarse sugar is a larger crystal sugar that doesn't melt when baked so it keeps a sparkle on the goods it's sprinkled on. It may also be called pearl sugar, decorators sugar, sparkling sugar.

      -I get about 45 - 2" diamond shaped cookies, plus the best and crispiest half diamonds around the edges.

      -I've tried sliced almonds with and without the skin and both are good to use and is a matter of preference.

      -I find it just as easy to cut the squares instead of just scoring them while they are warm, but if you're having difficulty just score them and cut when cool.

      -cookies are best if eaten while fresh, however they will last in a sealed container at room temperature for several days. If freezing, allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container away from strong odours.

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      I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
      Lemon Cream Mini Pavlovas

      Lemon Cream Mini Pavlovas

      Lemon Cream Mini Pavlovas garnished with blueberries and mint sit on a white cake tray decorated with blue flowers.

      Lemon Cream Mini Pavlovas

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      Where the heck is spring??  As I write this it is literally -15°C.  I think global warming has skipped over us here in Alberta.  But these bright and cheery Lemon Cream Mini Pavlovas are sure to brighten and warm any day.  Crisp yet chewy pavlova nests are filled with lemon curd and whipped cream filling.  They are lovely topped with fresh berries such as blueberry or raspberry and perfect for Easter or Mother’s Day. 

      Mini pavlova nests piped onto a baking tray lined with parchment and ready to be baked for Lemon Cream Mini Pavlovas.

      Sadly, with the way the world is these days, most of us may not be having much of a family gathering at Easter.  It will most likely be a modest meal with homebound family members and chats throughout the weekend with family and friends on Facetime or Skype. And this is okay because it’s what we need to do right now to keep everyone safe. As for this beautiful dessert, perhaps it will have to wait for another special occasion. Maybe Mother’s Day, bridal shower or what the heck, how about the first day of summer! There are always reasons to celebrate, so you’ll want to bookmark this recipe.

      Lemon curd for Lemon Cream Mini Pavlovas in a small glass bowl that is resting on a blue and white cloth.

      Here are a few helpful hints for this recipe:

      -make sure your mixing bowl is very clean (grease will hinder a great meringue).

      -use egg whites that are at room temperature (warm egg whites incorporate more air than cold ones).

      -you can grind granulated sugar for about 10 seconds using a mini grinder if castor sugar is not available.

      -stick the parchment to the baking tray with a few dabs of meringue to prevent it from moving while piping.

      -place the tray on a damp towel to prevent the tray from moving while piping.

      -don’t open the oven door until it has completely cooled as the warm dry air inside helps to dry out the meringues without further cooking.

      -baked meringues will keep several days in an airtight container at room temperature.

      -add filling to the meringue nests when ready to serve or up to a couple hours in advance. Adding it more than a couple of hours ahead will cause the meringues to soften too much.

      Lemon Cream Mini Pavlovas sit on a white cake tray in the background while one is served on a while dessert plate and garnished with blueberries and mint.

      Lemon Cream Mini Pavlovas
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        8 people 30-40 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        80 minutes 1+ hours
        Servings Prep Time
        8 people 30-40 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        80 minutes 1+ hours
        Lemon Cream Mini Pavlovas
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          8 people 30-40 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          80 minutes 1+ hours
          Servings Prep Time
          8 people 30-40 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          80 minutes 1+ hours
          Ingredients
          Mini Pavlovas
          Lemon Cream
          Servings: people
          Instructions
          Mini Pavlovas
          1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking tray with parchment and mark out 8-3" circles. Flip parchment over.
          2. Combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Whip until soft peaks are starting to form. Gradually add sugar, about a tablespoon at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl and continue to whip on high speed until stiff and glossy, about 6-7 minutes using a stand mixer.
          3. Add vanilla and whip to combine.
          4. Sift cornstarch over the meringue and fold to combine.
          5. Fit a large piping bag with your desired tip, I used a Wilton 1M.
          6. Fill the piping bag with meringue and squeeze a dab of meringue onto the corners of the parchment to stick it to the baking tray. This will help keep the parchment from moving while you pipe. Place the baking tray on a slightly damp kitchen towel to prevent the tray from moving. Fill in the traced circle, creating a base. Continue to pipe along the edge of the base for two turns, creating a basket.
          7. Place the tray in the oven on the middle rack and immediately turn oven temperature to 225°F. Bake for 80 minutes, turn off the oven and allow meringues to remain undisturbed in the oven until completely cool. Meringues will be firm and hollow sounding with a slight bit of tackiness and chew in the bottom layer.
          Lemon Cream
          1. Combine all ingredients except butter in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, about 7-8 minutes. Whisk in butter until smooth.
          2. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before covering with plastic wrap directly on the surface. Allow to cool completely and chill until ready to use.
          3. When ready to assemble pavlovas, which should be no more than 2 hours in advance, whip heavy cream until stiff. Fold whipped cream into lemon curd and fill meringues generously. Top with fresh blueberries and serve.
          Recipe Notes

          -Using egg whites at room temperature will result in more volume.

          -If unable to use castor or superfine sugar, simply grind regular granulated sugar in a mini coffee grinder for about 10 seconds.  Even this is not true castor sugar, it breaks down the sugar enough for better absorption into the meringue.

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          Affiliate Disclosure

          I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
          Vanilla Bean Syrup

          Vanilla Bean Syrup

          A small glass jar of Vanilla Bean Syrup resting in a wooden tray draped with a laced napkin.

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          Some of the simplest things are the most delicious. The combination of vanilla and sugar is just such an instance. This classic combo comes together as Vanilla Bean Syrup when you combine with water and give it a gentle simmer.

          You might be asking what need you might have for this jar or aromatic sweetness? Let me give you plenty of reasons. One of my favourites is to flavour specialty coffee and teas like my Baileys London Fog. There’s no need to spend copious amounts of money at a fancy coffee shop when you can make your favourites at home. My second favourite way to use it is for brushing onto cakes. It adds tremendous moisture and flavour to cake layers or the tops of sweet loaves. But the list is longer yet, drizzle it onto fruit salad, ricotta pancakes, plain yogurt with fruit (that way you control the sugar), smoothies and cocktails. Enjoy!

          Ingredients for Vanilla Bean Syrup resting in a wooden tray lined with a laced napkin and a stainless steel pot sits in the background.

          Vanilla Bean Syrup
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            2/3 cup 10 minutes
            Cook Time
            5 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            2/3 cup 10 minutes
            Cook Time
            5 minutes
            Vanilla Bean Syrup
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              2/3 cup 10 minutes
              Cook Time
              5 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              2/3 cup 10 minutes
              Cook Time
              5 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: cup
              Instructions
              1. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds with a small spoon or knife.
              2. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until mixture comes to a simmer and sugar is fully dissolved, stirring often. Once at a simmer, cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla beans.
              3. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then refridgerate in a sealed jar for up to 1 month.

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              Affiliate Disclosure

              I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com