The Weihnachtszeit or Christmas time in Germany is often called magical. With its romantic Christmas markets, evergreen decorations and longstanding traditions, the time never fails to make the darkest time of the year shine bright. As the weather turns colder, parents spend time with their children indoors making decorations for windows and trees and of course baking Weihnachtsplätzchen or Christmas cookies. These cookies are usually enjoyed while sitting around the Adventzkranz, a decorated wreath with four candles, on Sunday afternoons. Even today, these Adventzkaffee get-togethers remain the highlight of my holiday season. The lighting of the first candle marks the official start of the advent time and the first taste of the Weihnachtsplätzchen marks the beginning of all the delicious treats to come! Makronen, Zimtsterne, Vanillekipferl, Spritzgebäck and Lebkuchen are sure to bring the sounds and smells of a traditional German Christmas into anyone’s kitchen. Since today, December 1, marks not only the beginning of December but also the first advent of 2019, I have decided to share all of my favorite German cookie recipes with you. From now until December 25, I will post a traditional recipe every single day, so you can bring the magical Weihnachtszeit right into your own kitchen!
When it comes to Christmas cookies in Germany, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Spekulatius-Kekse. Those spiced Spekulatius are a staple on every Plätzchenteller.
Spekulatius are a classic German Christmas cookie which not only has a long tradition dating back to about the 15th century, but it is also known for its depth of spices of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamon. The cookies have always been made using sturdy, carved wooden molds that bear ornately detailed figures like animals, costumed men and women and of course the windmill. Most of the time, these molds have been handed down from generation to generation and with it, stories of how grandparents and great-grandparents only used flour to grease the intricate molds before beating them against tabletops to force the dough back out, ultimately creating these delicate biscuits.ebay and on amazon.
Ingredients for Spekulatius-Kekse:
- 4 cups or 500 grams of all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons or half a packet of baking powder
- 1 cup or 200 grams of white sugar
- 1 pinch or 1 Messerspitze of salt
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or 1 packet of vanilla sugar
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of almond extract
- 1 tablespoon of natural unsweetened cacao
- 1/2 teaspoon of anise powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
- 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 1 cup or 200 to 250 grams of soft butter
- 1 cup or 100 grams of blanched ground almonds
- Mix the flour and baking powder. Add the sugar, salt, spices and cacao.
- Create a hole in the center of the flour and place the eggs and the milk in the middle.
- Cut the butter into slices and add to the top of the flour mixture.
- Add the almonds on top of the butter-flour mixture.
- Using a mixer with a kneading hook, mix until dough is smooth. ( If the dough is too dry slowly add more butter. If the dough is too sticky, place the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. — I would recommend doing that anyway because it makes the dough a lot more manageable.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
- Sprinkle some flour on your work surface (I used a parchment paper) and roll out the dough.
- If using a mold, lightly flour the mold before placing the dough into the mold. Using a knife either scrape off the access dough from the mold or remove the finished cookie from the mold and using the knife cut around the shape of the cookie to removed the access dough on the edges of the cookie.
- Place cookies on a cooling rack.
- Store in a tin box.