It wouldn’t be Christmas for me without my traditional German Christmas cookies. We always had them on Christmas Eve when Advent was over. When I was very young the tree was hidden away in my Grandfather’s study and we didn’t see it until Christmas morning…so different from today when we start seeing signs of the holiday before Halloween (I’m talking about you, Costco). If you love hazelnuts this recipe will be right up your alley: it is tender, buttery and nutty and it takes me right back to my Grandma’s kitchen.
This dough is impossible to roll out…don’t even try it. Just place it between sheets of parchment paper and pat it out with your hands. Peel off the paper and cut out the dough with a well floured cookie cutter. By the time it has been rerolled several times (which, by the way, doesn’t affect the texture of the dough) you might get away with using a rolling pin, but I don’t think it’s worth the possible mess you could make. Don’t hesitate to use a generous dusting of flour with these cookies. It brushes off easily with a good, soft pastry brush.
Like many European cookies, these need to be baked on Back Oblaten, a thin wafer similar to a Communion wafer, because the dough is so tender that it would fall apart when you try to get it from the cutting board to the oven. By the time the cookies have baked and cooled they are easy to handle. Sometimes the wafers pop off, sometime they don’t. They have no flavor and very little texture so they are usually eaten right along with the cookie. I use them to make my favorite Nurnberger Lebkuchen. Take a look if you would like to see another way oblaten is used in German baking.
Cut out the cookies and carefully place them on the top of wafers that have been cut into the same shape as the cookie cutter you use. The dough is sticky and will stay in the cutter so you can position it easily.
Have you every made a recipe that doesn’t turn out anything like the photo that goes along with it? The recipe calls for beaten egg whites to be spread over the cookies before they are baked. My cookies on the left don’t look anything like the cookies on the right. I tried it several times and always got terrible results. So I left off the topping and think the cookies look festive without it. A bit of chopped hazelnut was all they needed.
I’ve had several busy weeks and am way behind in writing my blog posts and visiting all the blogs I regularly visit. I’ve never been this bad before…this is my first December post. I was a vendor in several wonderful local Christmas markets, the largest was the Holiday Market at the German American School. My daughter flew out from Chicago to help me with that one. I hosted a baby shower the Sunday after Thanksgiving and then headed to Chicago for some pre-Christmas fun with my daughter and her family. Eeks.., the month is flying by. I’m so excited about the impending arrival of my sixth grandchild and made a little crib quilt and matching doll for him. I call him Jimmy Joe (which won’t be his real name). Parents aren’t giving away the secret and I wanted to call him something other than “baby.” Can’t wait to know the name they have chosen.
I made one of these little soft dolls for my 5 year old great grandson when he was born and he loved it! The appendages were perfect for chewing on. I hope Jimmy Joe thinks the same.
In an effort to improve my baking skills and insure that recipes always turn out the same I now measure most of my ingredients by weight. It’s quick and easy and removes any guess work. King Arthur Flour has an excellent conversion chart on their website if you are interested.
I found this recipe at My Best German Recipes. It’s a keeper as far as I am concerned. I just have to figure out how to make egg whites look like frosting. But that’s a project for another day.
- 200 g alll-purpose flour
- 200 g sugar
- 250 g butter
- 200 g hazelnut meal
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- baking wafers (size to accommodate the cookie cutter
- Combine butter and sugar and mix until light and fluffy.
- Add hazelnut meal and mix well.
- This dough is too soft to roll out. Place the dough between sheets of parchment paper and pat it out with your hands to approximately ½" thickness.
- Cut the dough with a well floured cutter. Be sure to keep your hands well floured as you work with the dough. Gently position the cut out dough over the wafers (see note) and ease it out of the cookie cutter so it fits on whatever shape you chose to use. The star is traditional so I always use that.
- The recipe called for egg whites beaten this way but I didn't like the results AT ALL so I just left off this step. If you want to try it, here it is.
- Beat egg whites with powdered sugar until firm. Spread on each cookie.
- Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes until slightly browned around the edges.
- NOTE: Mark the shape of the cookie cutter you are using on the wafers and cut out the shape with scissors. They are easy to trim to the desired shape.