Plätzchen recipes

Germans love Christmas Cookies so much that they designated an entire word to it: “Plätzchen.“ This means if you’re looking for cookies anytime between January and October, they’re “Kekse” but as soon as the first lights are put up, they will all be replaced by the seasonal “Plätzchen”. Yes, even if the dough is technically the same all year round. No matter what you call them, I love myself some Santa-shaped, sugar-coated carbs. So let’s put on some Michael Bublé and enjoy these four classic German cookie recipes.

Pfefferkuchen

This is my great grandmother’s recipe and the embodiment of my childhood as we spent countless afternoons making and eating these. The original recipe could feed (and did feed) an entire extended family so I cut it in half but you might still want to store some of the dough in a dark cool place until you’ve run out of the previous batch.

250 grams honey
250 grams sugar
125 millilitres water
7 grams potash
7 grams hartshorn
100 grams raisins
100 grams almonds or hazelnuts
50 grams candied orange peel
50 grams candied lemon peel
750 g flour
7 grams cinnamon
2 grams ground cloves
25 grams cacao
2 eggs

Instructions:
Bring honey, sugar and butter to a simmer. Dissolve potash and hartshorn salt in water by shaking it in the empty honey glass. Grind raisins, nuts, candied lemon- and orange peel in a food processor. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl before adding the remaining ingredients along with the eggs and  knead well. Let sit for at least one night. Bake at 360°F / 180°C for 5-6 minutes. Glaze with lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Butterplätzchen

It doesn’t get more simple or classic than this one. Prepare the dough in advance and take it out of the fridge whenever you’re ready to make sure it’s firm and doesn’t crumble when you roll it out.

250 grams butter
250 grams sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar
6 egg yolks
500 grams sifted flour

Instructions:
Mix and knead all ingredients. Roll out thinly. Cut into any shape your cookie cutter allows. Bake at 320°F / 160°C for 15 minutes. Get creative with icing, toppings and other sorts of decoration.

Kokosmakronen

These fluffy, soft and exotic party favourites are quick to make, moist and offer just a hint of Caribbean flair during gloomy December afternoons.

200 grams shredded coconut
250 grams powdered sugar
200 grams marzipan
2 tablespoons rum
5 egg whites
juice of 1/2 lemon
optional: oblaten (a type of paper-thin wafer)

Instructions:
Beat egg whites until stiff. Mix all ingredients and fold in egg whites. Use a piping bag or spoon to form walnut-sized drops (either on baking sheet or oblaten). Bake at 360°F / 180°C for 20 minutes. If you like, you can partly coat them with melted chocolate.

Vanillekipferl

Vanilla crescents were my favourite growing up. Their crumbly texture makes them a perfect fit for coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

250 grams flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
125 grams sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar
1 salt
3 egg yolks
200 grams cold butter or margarine
125 grams ground almonds or hazelnuts

Instructions:
Mix and knead all ingredients. Store in fridge for at least 45 minutes. Roll into an even snake. Cut little pieces. Roll each into a ball and form crescents. Bake at 347°F / 175°C for 15 minutes. Coat hot cookies with a mixture of powdered- and vanilla sugar. Tip: Instead of forming crescents, use the back of a wooden spoon to make a dent in the balls and fill them with jam. Bake with the crescents.

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