Authentic German Christmas Cookies - Facts and traditional recipes (2024)

All-time favourite Weihnachtsplätzchen

Authentic German Christmas cookies (Weihnachtsplätzchen), home-made or bought, belong to the festive season.

Stollen, Lebkuchen and spritz cookies, macaroons, Zimtsterne,Vanillekipferl, the list of Weihnachtsplätzchen is long. Actually, weGermans are known to be "a bit crazy" about baking for Advent andChristmas. Many families have traditional recipes which have been passedalong for generations.

Authentic German Christmas Cookies - Facts and traditional recipes (1)A plate with delicious Christmas Cookies

Vanillekipferl, butter cookies, Zimsterne, Schwarz-Weiß-Gebäck, coconut and nut macaroons. That's the yummy mix seen on the plate above.

Let me introduce you to historical facts, our all-time favouriteGerman Christmas cookies and traditional recipes from my family.

The tradition of Christmas bakery dates back to the Middle Ages.Monks in medieval monasteries baked specialities to commemorate the birthof Jesus. Recipes for Stollen and Lebkuchen were created in these earlydays of Christmas baking.

However, it took centuries until ordinary families could afford to makethe delicious treats. Sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and other spices werequite expensive and sheer luxury. From the late 19th century ingredientsbecame more common and affordable for everyone.

Meanwhile, some of the delicious sweets have a protected geographicalstatus, like Aachener Printen and Nürnberger Lebkuchen. Accordingly,they have to be produced in these regions to be the real thing.

Home-made Christmas Cookies

German Weihnachtsplätzchen are made from different types of doughs withvarious spices like cinnamon, gloves, cardamom, orange and lemon peels,rum and vanilla.

Cookies are decorated with sugar and chocolate sprinkles, nuts, almonds, or completely covered with chocolate.

Although it is a bit of work to bake yourself, many families are proud to serve their home-made Christmas cookies.
A food processor or hand mixer is a great help, although some doughsbecome so rich and heavy, they need to be finished kneading with yourhands.

"When do we bake Christmas cookies?"
we kids askedimpatiently as soon as December had arrived. Usually, we got the firsttreat of Weihnachtsplätzchen at Nikolaus Day.

We really loved tohelp mum in the kitchen, kneading the dough, decorating the biscuits,tasting the uncooked dough and the freshly baked goodies until our tummyhurt.

Favourite German Christmas Cookies

When I was young I spent a lot of time making delicious Christmascookies. I wrapped them in cellophane bags, packed them in decorativeboxes, and gave them away as special Christmas gifts. You can beteveryone loved them!

These days I don't bake as much as I used to do. But who knows,now that I am browsing through the stained, faded recipe books of mygrandma and my own recipe collection, I might spend the next weekend inthe kitchen again :).

Anyway, let me introduce you to the most traditional German Christmas cookies and my favourite cookie recipes.

Stollen - Weihnachtsstollen, Dresdnerstollen,Christstollen or just Stollen are the common names for this rich,loaf-shaped fruit cake.

Coconut macaroons and the variation with hazelnuts are quick and easy to make.

Schwarz-Weiß-Gebäck - these shortcrust pastry cookies are created in several pattern by adding cocoa powder to one part of the dough.

Authentic German Christmas Cookies - Facts and traditional recipes (3)Tin box with Schwarz-Weiss-Gebäck

Lebkuchen or German gingerbread is slightly different to Britishgingerbread. The harder version of Lebkuchen is used to make gingerbreadhouses and gingerbread hearts sold at fairs and carnivals. NurembergLebkuchen are well-known around the world. They are soft, and oftenbaked on Oblaten (a thin wafer base). The finest variety is the Elisenlebkuchen that contains almost no flour.

Spekulatius is a spiced shortcrust cookie from Belgiumand the Netherlands where it is eaten all around the year. In Germanregions that border these countries Spekulatius is a favourite Christmascookie.

Spitzbuben - Some sources claim the Spitzbuben to be anoriginal Swiss recipe, however, the biscuits filled with red currantjam are very common in Germany as well.

Springerle are little pieces of art. You need a mould plate or roller to make the sweets with the pictures on top.

Butter cookies - Although you can buy butter cookies all year round, these are not exactly the same as the Butterplätzchen made for Christmas.

Aachener Printen are a type of Lebkuchen sweetened with sugarbeet syrup instead of honey. Aachener Printen is a protected regionalterm, you'll find Printen bakeries only in Aachen and its surroundings.

Almond Crescents - Vanillekipferl are another well-loved German Christmas cookie. Vanillekipferl are a must on every cookie plate in December.

I highly recommend that you use a kitchen scale for best results. As we use the metric system in Germany, I am neversure if I convert gram and kilogram correctly into ounces, cups etc.Also, check my page about cup measurement and different flour types.

Authentic German Christmas Cookies - Facts and traditional recipes (4)

Buying German Christmas Cookies

If you don't like baking but love the taste of good German cookies,there is a wide range you can buy in Germany, even online if you liveabroad. Bakeries sell really nice Weihnachtsplätzchen, you get home-madecookies at Christmas markets, and even industrial made biscuits areenticing. Of course you'll miss the wonderful smell in the house if youdon't bake yourself.

In my opinion, some German Christmas sweets require too much work to make them at home, Dominosteine for example.

My mother and I have never been successful Lebkuchen (Germangingerbread) bakers, they often turned out too hard. Sure, there is therecommendation to put hard gingerbread Lebkuchen into a tin box, add afew slices of apples and wait for a week.

However, if you have ever tasted the soft and delicious Nuremberg Lebkuchen, traditionally made by Lebkuchen Schmidt in Nuremberg, you might change your mind about home-made gingerbread.

Now did I make your mouth water? Check out my recipes below. Happy baking!

Don't miss the cookie recipes and my other Christmas pages

German Christmas Cookies

Butter Cookies - Butterplätzchen




Cup to gram conversion

German Christmas Markets

Authentic German Christmas Cookies - Facts and traditional recipes (12)Christmas traditions in Germany

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Authentic German Christmas Cookies - Facts and traditional recipes (2024)
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