My mom made Jan Hagel every year at Christmas. Her step-mother (my Oma) was Dutch. This is one of the cookies that always reminds me of her.
What is Jan Hagel?
Jan Hagel is a Dutch bar cookie that is very buttery, similar to a shortbread cookie. I like the hint of cinnamon and the crunch of the toasted walnuts. They are so easy to make. Just press the dough into the pan, top with walnuts and bake!
To this day, I still make some of the cookies without walnuts for my sister (who still doesn’t like nuts). I make a batch and just leave the nuts off the bottom quarter of the pan. That way everyone else can eat the ones with the nuts and she gets hers they way she likes them!
I make Jan Hagel every year as part of an array of Christmas cookies that Joe and I gift to friends and family. I spend a whole week baking, packing, shipping the cookies across the country, and distributing them locally. It is known as “Cookie Week” in our house. Joe buys the cookie tins, helps to package the cookies into the boxes, mails them out, and arranges to distribute them in town. It is a big process, but everyone loves getting their cookie packages every year. It has become a tradition.
I try to remember who likes which cookie best, if they like nuts or not, etc. I package each cookie tin specifically for the recipient. It takes a day just to package all the cookies into the tins. No one in our house is allowed to eat any of the cookies, unless they break (oops!), until after the cookie tins are packed. We have to have enough cookies, but we always do!
The cookies give us a reason to visit with our friends and family that we don’t get to spend enough time with throughout the year. Sometimes life seems to get in the way, but the cookies are the glue that brings us all together again.