This poppy seed cookie recipe was handed down from my mother, who got it from her mother. Known as mohn kichlach (or kichelach, which means “cookies” in Yiddish) these cookies date back to 16th century Eastern Europe where they were a staple in Jewish homes.
Traditionally, poppy seed cookies are served any time of year, but in my family we make them for our Chanukah celebrations. They’re perfect with coffee, tea, or a tall glass of cold milk. Enjoy!
Traditional Poppy Seed Cookies (Mohn Kichlach)
1 cup melted butter or margarine, allow to cool slightly
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup poppy seeds
1 teaspoon almond extract
In large mixing bowl, melt butter or margarine. Using an exlectric mixer on medium speed, beat melted butter or margarine and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one.
Add baking powder and 1 cup of the flour, beating until smooth. Clean beaters. With a wooden spoon, stir in 1 cup flour and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients, mixing well.
Chill dough in refrigerator in wax paper at least 2 hours. Then divide dough into 4 parts.
Roll out each piece of dough one at time between 2 pieces of wax paper, approximately 1/8″ thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes — traditional dreidel, Star of David, or Chanukah-themed cookie shapes make them festive. Gather up scraps of dough and re-cool in refrigerator. Carefully transfer cookies to a greased cookie sheet or one lined with parchment paper, leaving some space in between, and bake at 350º F. for 12 – 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. The cookies will harden as they cool.
Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for the 8 days of Chanukah, if they last that long! Or freeze them, well wrapped, for up to 2 months.