Holiday Recipe: Jan Hagel Cookies

Mike's mother would bake Jan Hagel Cookies and send them to his dad while he served in Vietnam.

Mike Conneen's Dutch Cookies

We have Holland (and Mike Conneen’s mother) to thank for Jan Hagel (yahn ‘HAH-gel) Cookies. They’re a crunchy Dutch sweet that Mike says is a family favorite. His mother used to bake the treats and send them to his father when he was serving in Vietnam.

Now you might think Mike’s family tree has roots in Holland, but he says they’re Irish through and through. The Jan Hagel Cookies are simply a Dutch dessert his father enjoyed, and now you can too.

1 c. butter (Best if made with real butter, not a butter spread.)
1 c. white sugar
1 egg, separated (save white)
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (add more to taste)
1 tbsp. water
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans or sliced almonds or nuts of choice.

• Beat butter, sugar and egg yolk.
• Blend in flour and cinnamon until dough like consistency.
• Pat into lightly greased (Pam Spray) jelly roll pan.
• Beat water and egg white (an electric beater is best) until frothy; brush over dough with a pastry brush.
• Sprinkle with nuts.
• Bake at 300 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
• Cut into 3x1 inch strips. Let set to cool and then remove from pan.

A Holiday Message from Mike about his parents, Drew and Kathleen Conneen:

Not just cookies – the holiday season calls to mind other wartime memories for my dad. On 12/24/1969, after nine months in Vietnam and just two months before he would come home to the United States, he attended Christmas Eve Mass inside a make-shift church building erected by the military. The mass was celebrated by a visiting American Cardinal, Terence Cooke from the Archdiocese of New York. My dad was touched that the Cardinal stood at the door and shook hands with every soldier in attendance, wishing him a ‘Happy Christmas.’

And during the service, when the song ‘Silent Night’ was sung, he was overcome with emotion thinking of his wife and family in Baltimore, hearing these powerful lyrics of peace and joy while serving in a war zone:

Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
'Round yon virgin , mother and child
Holy infant so, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Forty-four years later, he can’t help but tear up when he hears this Christmas classic. Knowing its special significance, his wife and children can’t either.