Christmas Cookies-A Tradition Not to be Lost

I’m going to preface this post with a disclaimer… I’m not a baker. It’s not a talent of mine… I can make a dirndl fit someone in Canada without ever seeing them, but making cupcakes from a box is about as far as my baking skills go. However, I do believe that baking Christmas cookies is a tradition not to be lost. Luckily for me, my husband likes making cookies and this year will be the first of many that we bake German and Swiss Christmas cookies with our son.

My grandfather was a baker, but not just your run of the mill baker of cookies and cakes here and there. He was a master at his craft! His recent passing has my entire family wishing we learned more about baking from him, but he was pretty protective of his recipes often changing things based on the weather, which makes his cookies very hard to replicate. My uncle is working on it and he makes a wicked good rye bread, so I’m hopeful that Grandpa’s cookies will come back to life through Uncle Art!

Christmas cookies and baking them with family is a tradition that I think children and adults alike will always remember.

Here is a great list of classic cookies from germany-insider-facts.com

  • Macaroons classic cookie made with hazelnuts and are quick and easy to make.
  • Schwarz-Weiß-Gebäck – these shortcrust pastry cookies are created in several patterns by adding cocoa powder to one part of the dough.
  • Lebkuchen or German gingerbread is slightly different to British gingerbread. The harder version of Lebkuchen is used to make gingerbread houses and gingerbread hearts sold at fairs and carnivals. Nuremberg Lebkuchen are well-known around the world. They are soft, and often baked on Oblaten (a thin wafer base). The finest variety is the Elisenlebkuchen that contains almost no flour.
  • Spekulatius is a spiced shortcrust cookie from Belgium and the Netherlands where it is eaten all around the year. In German regions that border these countries Spekulatius is a favourite Christmas cookie.
  • Spitzbuben – Some sources claim the Spitzbuben to be an original Swiss recipe, however, the biscuits filled with red currant jam 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 sugar beet syrup instead of honey. Aachener Printen is a protected regional term, 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.

Many of you may be thinking, “but I’m not German, why is this information important to me?” Creating memories and traditions with family and friends is (in my personal opinion) one of the most important parts of the holiday season. This time of year is often a time of sadness for some, so creating new traditions to look forward to is can be just the prescription that the doctor ordered. So, whether you are baking hazelnuss macoroonen with Oma, peanut butter cookies with the kids, biscotti with Nonno, shortbread with your neighbor or classic chocolate chip with your best friend… everyone loves a warm holiday cookie that will no doubt bring a smile to your face and those around you (assuming you share).

Written by Erika Neumayer Ehrat, owner and designer of Rare Dirndl. Lincoln Square based dirndl designer specializing in out-of-the-box awesome dirndls and dirndl accessories. Raredirndl.com for more info.

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