Butter Letter: A Dutch Christmas Tradition

An old Dutch recipe, handed down from generation to generation.

Growing up in the Dutch community of Wyckoff, butter letter was always a favorite Christmastime treat. This delicious almond pastry is known in the Netherlands as Boterletter, where it is traditionally made into the shape of a letter (hence the name). 

We found this recipe in an old church directory and thought we'd share it with Patch: 

Butter Letter

Dough Mixture

4 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
Dash of salt
1 lb. of butter
1/2 cup ice water (ice) 

Mix together & store in refrigerator overnight. 


3 eggs
1 lb. almond paste
2 cups sugar 
Mix & put aside.  

Roll out dough into strips about 6 x 12 inches. (Should make 6-8 strips). Spread strips with filling and roll up. Seal edges using wet fingers. Brush with egg whites and prick a hole with a toothpick every 2 inches. 

Bake seam-side down on a cookie sheet lines with parchment paper at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Do not overbake. 


We don't make Butter Letter in our bakery, but we know many Dutch wives who pride themselves in making fantastic Butter Letter. If you're a fan of this home made treat, tell us who in the community makes it the best!

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John Mondelli December 17, 2012 at 07:21 PM
My Father-in-law taught me the recipe years ago before we moved to Florida, and I still make it almost every year. It hard to fine the almond paste here so I try to bring a can or have visiting relative bring me a can from NJ.
Judi Leonard December 23, 2012 at 12:56 AM
You can purchase the almond paste from American Almond Products, located in Brooklyn, NY. Their web address is: www.americanalmond.com. They carry a large variety of products and have great recipes!
Janet Brown December 28, 2012 at 03:46 AM
My grandfather owned a Holland bakery in Paterson. I have several versions of his recipe from my father and my aunt. My recipes are slightly different that the one above. My problem is finding almond paste -- we used to get it from the south side of Chicago. Most recently I found it in a middle eastern shop in Paterson. My father always said that the dough had to rest over night and be rolled out a second or even a third day. He was adept at making the difficult letters -- like 'B' or 'R' Janet Brown (formerly VanDerSluys)
Claire Van Til December 29, 2012 at 12:53 AM
I've been making butter letter my whole married life (54 1/2 years). We love having it at Christmastime. I wouldn't know where to buy the almond paste here in Florida so I usually buy a 7 lb. can when up in NJ or ask a relative or friend to bring it along when they come down to visit. For Janet Brown - there is a little convenience store that sells it. It's next to Abbey Carpet & Floor of Hawthorne, 1030 Goffle Rd.
Tina Marie January 19, 2013 at 02:29 PM
You can find almond paste in bulk at Veenstra's Deli (formerly Ingerswen's) on High Mt. Rd in North Haledon. Also, Solo brand canned almond paste is always available at the Foodtown in North Haledon or at most Shop Rite stores in the baking goods aisle.


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