One might think, from the name, that these cookies have something to do with Christmas. St. Nikoloos--St. Nicholas, right. Well, they do, sort of. According to various sources on the Internet, St. Nikoloos cookies are Dutch. They are made either with cookie cutters, or with a mold, which these, thankfully are not, because I still don't have a rolling pin, or cookie cutters. They are made to celebrate St. Nicholas's Day, which is December 5. But, really, there is nothing overtly Christmasy about these cookies.
These cookies are lacy and delicate, not cakey, like gingerbread cookies. I made them for the hikers on the Appalachian Trail. They seemed popular and were gone in 24 hours when I stopped by to pick up the tin and the bottled water. I used shortening instead of lard, because the Big Y supermarket in Great Barrington doesn't carry lard. The recipe says to bake them for 8 minutes. They took at least 15 before they were sufficiently done to come off the cookie sheet in one piece. They require waxed paper, but probably you could wrap the dough in foil or plastic wrap. About the buttermilk. I just used regular milk because I was damned if I was going to clutter up my refrigerator with a quart of buttermilk. You could add a dab of vinegar to the regular milk to get it to be more like buttermilk.
By the way, these are easily attempted and carried off in a summer rental. All you need is a cookie sheet.
St. Nikoloos Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup lard or shortening
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/ cup chopped nuts
1. Day before, beat the butter, lard (or shortening) and sugar together until creamy. (You don't need a mixer to do this. I used a fork.) Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and baking soda and add with the buttermilk and nuts to the creamed mixture.
2. With the fingertips, work into a dough. With floured hands, shape the dough into two long rolls, each one inch to one and one-half inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate overnight.
3. Next day, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
4. cut the rolls into one-eighth-inch slices and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until light brown, about ten to fifteen minutes. Cool on a rack. Makes three dozen.