A Cut Above

Collecting cookie cutters from around the world

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Christopher Tan

My favorite part of the holidays is baking with my collection of international cookie cutters, snapped up on my travels, which broaden my repertoire far beyond sugar cookies. Each December I use intricate resin molds from Germany to make anise-flavored springerle. I use a petite spring-loaded plunger to make crumbly polvoron, the Filipino powdered milk and butter cookies traditionally eaten over the holidays. When I do make sugar cookies, I turn to the one-of-a-kind Malaysian cutter that looks like a knuckleduster and stamps out five tiny pineapples at once. Part of the fun is seeing how versatile these precisely purposed tools can be. A set of wood Chinese molds are equally suited for making rice flour cakes for the Lunar New Year, as well as ginger-spiced Dutch _speculaas_at Christmas, and my tart cutters—designed to make pastries filled with pineapple jam—also make beautifully symmetrical thumbprint cookies, no thumbs required.