Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Years Cookies

When I was growing up, one thing I looked forward to every New Years Eve was 'Niejoashe Koake" (Low German for 'New Years Cookies'). My mom made them pretty much every year, to the best of my recollection, unless we happened to be spending the holidays with my grandparents or my aunts, in which case Grandma or the aunts would do the honors. Sometimes with help from me. Although I didn't help so much as help myself!

I'm not proud of the fact that as much as I loved these fritters (they are much more like donuts than cookies) and the tradition, I didn't make them for my own family at New Years. For 2014 I decided to remedy the omission, and I dug out the simple recipe my aunt had given me over the phone last year and went to work.

There are two basic versions of Niejoashe Koake - a yeast recipe, and a baking powder recipe. The yeast recipe would be more traditional, obviously, but for simplicity and speed, the baking powder recipe is great and tastes basically the same. The name 'Niejoashe Koake' comes from the Dutch and German Mennonites who immigrated to the USA and Canada. The same basic recipe is also known as Porzelchen (High German), Oliebollen (Dutch), Croustillon (French), or Dutchies (English); and they are simply sweet fritters with raisins. Why are they associated with New Years? I haven't a clue. If you happen to know, share in the comments!

Niejoashe Koake (New Years Cookies)
4 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp butter
1-1/4 cup milk or cream
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
flour, enough to make a spongy batter (I used about 2 cups)
raisins, lots of them!

Mix the first six ingredients together well, then add flour and mix until batter is spongy, sort of like a very thick pancake batter. (I should have taken a picture of that because I realize now it's hard to explain!) Mix in as many raisins as you and your family like. I like lots, my kids don't like raisins, so I made some fritters before adding the raisins. Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil and deep fry until golden brown. The fritters tend to turn over by themselves as they cook, but they may need a little help. Drain on paper towel, and dust with icing sugar. (Some people prefer them rolled in granulated sugar, but icing sugar is my preference.) I recommend cutting open one or two of the first ones to make sure they are cooked all the way through - if you make them too big (which I tended to do), they may still have uncooked batter in the middle even though the outside looks done. They are best served warm and fresh. 

The traditional yeast recipes (and recipes for all kinds of homey, delicious, and traditional German Mennonite foods) are found in The Mennonite Treasury of Recipes cookbook. All of the recipes in the cookbook, which was originally published in the early 1960s, were submitted by Mennonite ladies from across Canada. A Canadian Mennonite Conference was held in Steinbach, Manitoba, in 1960, and the committee first collected information for food preparation for large groups. They decided to publish a compilation of recipes along with the large quantity recipes, and a section of 'Mennonite Dishes' was added as well. Because the cooks who submitted these recipes were sharing information that had been handed down through generations, there is a lack of instruction in many of the recipes, or amounts like I've mentioned above - "enough" flour or whatever - and it's assumed that you'll know what to do! This book is truly treasured in my kitchen, even though I don't make use of it as frequently as I probably should. My Grandma made regular use of her copy of this cookbook so many of the recipes in it are "her" recipes, and some were submitted by ladies she knew or to whom she was related!

Do you have a traditional treat served at New Years? Leave a comment and let me know!

Circling Through This Life
Since this is a favorite childhood tradition and treat, I'm also linking up at Circling Through This Life for the 52 Favorite Anything series.

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a49erfangirl said...

These look delicious. I think I would do the speedier version of them too as I am impatient at times. I think I might just have to give these a whirl with the kids. What a nice tradition to have had with your family.

Tess said...

Thank you so much for linking up to my Favorites Anything Series! I am so gonna try these! They sound so good. [I actually clicked on this post in my FB feed because of the recipe and then I saw that you linked to me. Way cool!]

Chareen said...

those look very nummy. We make something similar in South Africa. You take white bread dough, fry them like that, split them open and serve filled with mince meat. We called them Vet Koek.

Kym said...

I think I saw Vet Koek listed as a "sister" to this recipe in one of the articles. I didn't know those were filled with mincemeat - that sounds delicious!

kewkew said...

What a yummy tradition. We are still working on our New year's traditions. I don't have anything I specifically bake, but we do have snacks in the evening and ice cream with a movie (though we had to bypass that this year as our furnace wasn't working).
I would love for you to stop by and share on my weekly recipe link up, Kids and a Mom in the Kitchen. Here is the link to this week's linky:

Lisa Boyle said...

These sound wonderful. I look forward to trying them. Thanks for linking up with "Try a New Recipe Tuesday." I hope you will be able to join us again this week. :-) http://our4kiddos.blogspot.com/2014/01/try-new-recipe-tuesday-january-14.html

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