Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Cookies

Every New Year's Eve we make New Year's cookies, also called "Porzelchen" (High German) or "Niejoash koake" (Low German). These raisin fritters have been made by German Mennonites for many generations. The High German name means "Tumbling Over" because they turn over by themselves when they are dropped into deep fat. The photo shows Monica dropping the dough into the fat.

Here's the recipe:
2 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups raisins
1 tablespoon yeast
4-5 cups flour

Scald the milk (heat it until it starts to bubble), then let it cool to lukewarm. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. I knead the dough a bit and add the raisins last. Then cover and let rise until double.

Heat oil on medium heat to 350 degrees. Use a candy thermometer to keep the temperature consistent. Drop the dough into the hot oil and fry until brown. The Niejoash koake will turn over when they are done.

Drain on paper towels, then roll in granulated sugar.

We brought our Niejoash koake to a New Year's Eve gathering, where they were a big hit, especially with the youngest members of the group.
The recipe is adapted from Off the Mountain Lake Range, a cookbook produced by the Gopher Historians of 1958. The following Low German nursery rhyme is also taken from the book:

Eck sach den Shornsteen Roacke.
Eck visst voll vaut ye moacke.
Ye backte Niejoash Koake.
Yave ye me eane
Dann bliev eck stoane
Yave ye me twea
Dann fang eck aun to goane
Yave ye me drea, fea, feef toaglick
Donn vensch eck you daut gaunse Himmelrick.

English Translation:
I saw your chimney smoking.
I knew what you were making.
You were baking New Year's Cookies.
Give me one -- I stand still.
Give me two -- I start walking.
Give me three, four, five at once,
Then I wish you the Kingdom of Heaven.


  1. I found your article interesting. I was chatting with two colleagues of Dutch background, and they kept talking about something that sounded like my mom's new year's cookies. Turns out it's pretty much the same recipe. My mom's roots are Manitoba Mennonite, via Prussia, and apparently back to Friesland (Holland), so maybe it all makes sense.

    Here's a link that talks about the origins.

  2. Thanks so much for posting this! I am SO excited to find it! My grandmother used to make New Years fritters and recite this poem each year. The recipe was passed down, but we could not remember the poem. I have been searching off and on for years. Yay!