Magical Christmas Cookies

Made with fresh orange juice and olive oil, it had definitely come to stay! It was so good I had to pass it along to all my friends.

Still haven’t managed to figure out what it is exactly that sparks my enthusiasm to make the same dough with such zest each year and be in the kitchen for hours on end making Christmas cookies in all kinds of different shapes! You see, my daughter is 28 years old, she doesn’t live nearby and probably won’t even be able to come home for Christmas (thanks Covid- 19). There are no other children in the family, our godchildren, nephews and nieces are all grown up, so I have no idea who or what put me in such a festive mood to make a –very Christmassy- mess of a kitchen.

As you know, I’ve quite literally made tons of dough throughout the years, on many occasions with the company of an army of little friends, all gathered around the kitchen table and making their own cookies –with all the hurly-burly this comes with. I expected I’d get tired of it at some point. Well, apparently I haven’t reached that point yet.

On the contrary, each time feels just as exciting and overwhelming as the first. All those precious memories have become one with me and define me, so it’s only natural that around this time every year, I almost instinctively follow the same routine, a routine that has become some kind of ritual for me. Flour, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon and vanilla scattered everywhere around the kitchen. Reindeer, tree, angel and star shaped cookie cutters that find their way out of the cupboards, hours and hours spent in the kitchen until every Christmas cookie is perfectly baked and crispy. There’s nothing ordinary about this recipe.. It’s a special one!  

What has changed the last couple of years is that besides cooking, I also photograph my dishes for the blog. This has inspired me to put a little more effort into making my cookies even more pleasing to the eye, so I started decorating them more and I even occasionally glaze them too –always with natural food colours. The fun story behind this recipe is that I got it from a friend a long time ago and instantly loved it, as it seemed delicious and super healthy at the same time. Made with fresh orange juice and olive oil, it had definitely come to stay! It was so good I had to pass it along to all my friends. With time, I became a bit more health-conscious and began to replace the flour or sugar with healthier options (typical me) and avoided icing which obviously led to less aesthetically pleasing, albeit delicious, cookies. At some point, after seeing the cookies a friend of mine had made and getting all excited, she said: “This is your recipe!” So, I asked for the recipe I once had given her and that’s the one I made today.

Christmas has been a bit different for us the last few years. There are no rosy-cheeked tiny humans running around in our kitchen, wearing their oversized aprons and making cookies in the most impossible shapes with their little hands. I still remember their loud, thin voices and non-stop chattering that sometimes makes your head spin and honestly can’t think of anything more beautiful and chaotic in my life!

Those precious moments of togetherness will forever be engraved in our children’s memory. And every Christmas, even as adults, they’ll always go back to these memories of family, love and affection, the scent of vanilla and cinnamon in the air and the magic of childhood, the only time in our lives when imagination and spontaneity know no boundaries and restrictions, when reality is intertwined with fairy tale and life is a mixture of magic and adventure.


That’s what I always look for in life; a little bit of magic here and there. And that’s why making Christmas cookies feels like a ritual to me, it’s my way of going back in time to see cute happy little faces waiting for their presents again and maybe be a child myself for a while, if only to experience Christmas and welcome Santa with the same excitement and joy as I used to.

If there’s one piece of advice I’d give you, it’s to not allow the hectic pace of life to keep you from spending such beautiful moments with your children. I know it’s easier said than done and can be very messy sometimes. Just let the process lead the way, enjoy those precious moments of joy and give your children happy memories they’ll carry for life. And something I read somewhere, a wish to all of you:

"May you never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve"

Merry Christmas!


about 50 cookies

1 cup fresh orange juice

1 cup olive oil

1 cup sugar (half white, half brown)

4 cups all-purpose flour (plus some to open the dough)

1tsp baking soda

1tsp baking powder

1tsp cinnamon

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

1 cup ground nuts, half walnuts, half almonds (you can also use just the one or the other)

Cookie decorations

Christmas themed cookie cutters 


For the icing

2 egg whites

4 cups powdered sugar

1tbsp lemon juice

Natural pastry colours

Pastry decorating tubes


1. For the icing. In a bowl, mix powdered sugar, egg whites and lemon. Beat with a hand mixer until well blended. Divide the icing into separate bowls for each colour you want to use and add the colouring according to the package instructions. Keep the icing as it is for a white colour. Transfer the icing into separate pastry tubes. You can prepare them from the previous day and store them in the refrigerator. Just remember to remove them from the refrigerator 30 minutes before use.

2. For the cookies. Preheat the oven to 170C. In a mixer bowl, mix orange juice, olive oil and sugar. Beat for 1 minute in medium speed. Stir in baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla. Gradually add the ground nuts. Lastly, gradually add the flour. You might need to use some more or less flour, our goal is a soft, stretchy dough that is not sticky.

Divide the dough to two balls. Keep the one you’ll be working on, wrap the second one in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Flour a work surface and roll out the dough to ½ cm. Note that the cookies will rise when baked. Create different shaped cookies and place them onto a lined baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes approx. until golden. Let the cookies cool and continue with the rest of the dough you stored in the refrigerator earlier. Follow the same steps.

Now decorate the cookies with the icing you made earlier. You can also add decorative stars, balls etc. for a Christmassy design.