Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Brown Jam Cookies - Regular and Gluten-free

I don't think there is a more traditional Mennonite Christmas Cookie than this one - unless it is the Ammonia Cookie. As far back as I can remember any Mennonite woman worthy of her kitchen made these cookies.
They are my husband's all time favorite.
I decided to try to make them gluten-free this year and my husband could not tell the difference from the real thing.
  • 3/4 cup syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsps cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. soda
  • 1/4 cup lard (Tenderflake)
  • 1/2 tsp ground star aniseed (a must ingredient)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup white bean flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 rounded tsp. xanthan gum
  1. Beat syrup, supar, sour cream, lard, and vanilla until well blended.
  2. Add the well mixed together dry ingredients, flour, cocoa powder, soda, staraniseed, and xanthan gum
  3. Mix well, then add more rice flour with your hands a little at a time until you have a soft, non-sticky dough.
  4. Cover and let stand in fridge for a few hours or overnight
  5. Roll out on surface sprinkled with sweet rice flour as needed to keep dough from sticking I found rolling out the dough in smaller amounts easier to handle.
  6. Cut with round cookie cutter and drop your favorite jam on each round. Traditionally half the cookies were made with yellow jam (apricot or gooseberry) and the other half with red (plum) and when they were served you never knew which color you would get.

Fold the circles in half and pinch the edges firmly together.
Place on baking sheets and bake at 375' for about 15 minutes or until edges turn brown. These cookies are hard when they cool.. then they are stored in a sealed container and by the next day are soft and delicious.
The cookies may be either left plain (as my husband prefers them) or frosted with the following frosting.
  1. Boil 1 cup sugar and 4 tbsp. water until string stage (takes a few minutes)
  2. Then pour syrup over one stiffly beaten egg white , continuing to beat until stiff and smooth. The old Mennonite ladies would then put the cookies in a large bowl and pour the frosting over top using their hands to coat them..
  3. I find it easier to put a rack over waxed paper, put the cookies on the rack and pour the frosting over them.
  4. Let the frosting dry before you put the cookies in containers.

The Original Recipe
For you non-Celiac bakers I have the regular original recipe here.
I was given this recipe by my Aunt Betty 37 or 38 years ago and taped it into my Mennonite cook book that we were given for a wedding present 43 years ago.
The method is exactly the same as for the gluten-free ones above.


  1. Hi Julie,
    Thanks so much for all these gluten free recipes. I send all the links to my niece who can't have gluten :0)

  2. Amazing Julie! I bake these for Christmas too.(with gluten) They are so good and I always use wild plum jelly!!
    And now I am hungry for this cookie..

  3. Oh my Julie...I think this time you have outdone yourself! Wow! A very traditional recipe but gluten free! And what a cookie this is! You are definitely making a lot of people happy with this post! Well done! What great shots too by the way!

  4. Julie, they look magnificent.. and I smiled at your declaration of a Mennonite woman who needs to learn how to make these.
    There will be many happy people out there that will be able to enjoy them, thanks to your ingenutiy.

  5. Wow, Julie! I have always left these cookies for my Mom to bake. They are special! But one day I will have to take on this challenge. I had plans of doing them with her this Christmas and taking photos. Your photos are wonderful and your glaze looks amazing! That's probably the hardest part.

  6. I apologize for having rather a dull point, but when you say syrup, do you mean corn syrup (light or dark?), maple syrup, or is it something else?

  7. Kathis, I'm sorry, I should have specified... Rogers Golden Syrup...which is a cane syrup (not corn syrup or pancake syrup) Rogers is a Canadian company so I don't know if it is sold in the USA, maybe someone knows an equivilant across the line?

  8. I've seen golden syrup at our local grocery stores. Look on the very top shelf (because it is not very popular I would guess) above all of the fake maple syrup (which strangely, is popular!?)

  9. These are cute! I think they will be perfect for the holidays!

    w/gluten! : )


  10. OH wow! I think I REALLY need to find some white bean flour now! These are almost like the cookies my Grandma always made. Yum!

  11. oh my mom makes these and fills them with dampson plum jam.
    i think the icing scares me a little, i have never tried these and i better learn! keep those traditions going!

  12. Psstt...Julie...any chance of having a GF recipe for hard peppernuts?? hope you know what I'm talking about...otherwise, that would just seem like an odd request.

  13. These are definately a hard cokie to ice, but so worth it. Your's look perfect. Kathy

  14. Thank you for responding to my question. I shall look for Golden Syrup. I believe I can mail order it from one of local baking baking supply companies. These cookies look wonderful!

  15. These recipes are great! I loved making paska for my mom after 7 years without! Will you ever attempt the ammonia cookies?!

  16. Hiya,
    I made these last year for a girl's week with my family (many GF-mennos). My Oma just loved them as did everyone else. I am making them again for this year's get together and thought I would leave a quick post. These are just like the jam-jams I remember, please don't hesitate to try this recipe!!!

  17. I'm having a hard time reading a certain ingredient on the original recipe....the one between lard and vanilla....would that be star anise? and approximately how much flour? Thanks in advance for the info, I'm looking forward to making these cookies.

    1. Hi Robaire .... My aunt wrote star aniseed on her recipe but she meant 'ground star anise'. If you aren't familiar with that spice you can find it fairly easily where spices are sold.
      I assume you are asking about the reg. recipe that does not specify how much white wheat flour -- I really don't know that I ever measured it when I used to make the reg. recipe before I had to go gf.... but add it one cup at a time until you have a dough that would be still too soft to roll out. It firms up quite nicely in the fridge and then you can add more flour as needed to be able to roll it easily. Hope that helps !

  18. Thank you, Julie! When I asked my mother-in-law, who is in a nursing home, about her favorite Christmas treats, she described this cookie but had no name for it. I typed in the ingredients and this came up. I was delighted to find that you have a gluten-free version too!

  19. Thank you , Deborah ! I hope your mother-in-law gets here favorite cookies this Christmas ! You are a sweet dil to care !
    I wish you and yours a blessed Christmas !

  20. I tried a very similar recipe, using baker's ammonia, trying to imitate my Oma's cookies. The damson plum jam ran out of all but one of them while baking! I closed them tight, so I'm thinking maybe the jam was too runny... any other ideas?

    1. Yes... I would agree, the most likely problem was that the jam was too thin, since you took care to make sure the edges were sealed tight.