Plätzchen: German Christmas Cookies With A Long Tradition And History…

With December now in full swing and with Nikolaus only a day away, it is definitely cookie time. And not just any cookies. But a specific type of Weihnachtskekse or Christmas cookies. Cookies with a long family tradition. To this day, my grandmother and my mom still bake loads and loads of these cookies and spend hours lovingly decorating them with frosting and all sorts of sprinkles, before filling them into tins with Christmas designs and gifting them to friends and other family members. The German “Butterplätzchen.”

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Butterplätzchen                                                                    Photo Credit: my Mom

To this day, I still remember my brother and I would always hang around the kitchen soaking in the freshly baked smell of these cookies and almost every single time, we would always dip our fingers in the bowl to steal a taste of the cookie batter. While I loved frosting cookies for hours while I was little, I have to admit that now I like them just plain or with just a dash of frosting.

Since this recipe has been in our family for generations now and is a well-kept secret, I thought I would share a chocolate version with my readers today. Schokoplätzchen with a deer pattern. The word Plätzchen, which literally means ‘a little place to sit’ and is pronounced ‘plehtschyun,’ consist of flour, sugar and butter (even though many Germans use a special backing margarine for most of their cookies). Additionally, eggs, milk, vanilla sugar, some baking powder are also added along with a choice of lemon extract and even baking marzipan.

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Throughout Germany and other German-speaking countries like Switzerland and Austria, Plätzchen sometimes are also known as Kekse or cookies, and Guetzli, PlatzerlBredlaLoible/Loibla, or even Broetle. But no matter what you call them, all of them are cut into various shapes using cookie cutters related to Christmas. And are a great way to spend a few hours with loved ones. The earliest Christmas cookies in the United States were brought by the Dutch in the early 17th century. Between 1871 and 1906 thanks to a change of importation laws for products imported from Germany, the first cookie cutters also became available in America. So, in a way Germany has shaped many Christmas traditions, not just the Christmas tree, Christmas tree ornaments, but also Christmas cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams or 1 2/3 cups of flour
  • 60 grams or 8 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon of backing powder
  • 100 grams or 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 125 grams or 1/2 cup of butter
  • 100 grams or 2/3 cup or 4 oz of dark chocolate, grated
  • a pinch of lemon peel
  • 20 grams or a little over 4 teaspoons of cocoa powder

Instructions: 

  • Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat until combined.
  • Continue to mix until the dough is smooth.
  • Take the dough out of the bowl and form into a ball before cutting it into two equal pieces (that will make it easier to work with the dough especially if you double the recipe).

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  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Flour your table or baking surface.
  • First using plain rolling pin, roll out dough to about a 1/2 inch thick.
  • Using a wooden engraved rolling pin (a similar one like mine can be found on amazon) go over the dough one more time paying close attention to the design detail.
  • Using a cookie cutter, cut out shapes and transfer cookies to a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

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  • Frost your cookies if desired.

Enjoy!

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