This year, we decided to try baking some German Christmas cookies for the very first time. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed these delicious treats! We baked Zimt Sterne, Vanille Kirpferl and Linzer Plätzchen. TRIED is the operative word here, it was quite an adventure that took a few days, as you’ll see in the video!
How German Christmas Cookies are Different than American Ones
We have found German desserts are, in general, much less sweet than American ones. One thing we found that was much different is that German Christmas cookies are much heartier – less sugar, more nutty, rich flours (like almond flour) and they contain more spices like cinnamon and lemon.
Shoutout to Kirsten and Joerg, whose video I followed to learn how to make these cookies in the first place!
Vanillekipferl – My Personal Favorite German Christmas Cookie
The history of Vanillekipferl, also known as vanilla crescent cookies, can be traced back to the 18th century.
It is believed that the first Vanillekipferl were made in Vienna, Austria, in the late 17th or early 18th century, but they quickly became popular throughout Germany and other parts of Europe. The cookies were originally made with almonds, but over time, other nuts such as hazelnuts and walnuts were also used.
The traditional recipe for Vanillekipferl includes flour, butter, sugar, and ground nuts, usually almonds or hazelnuts. The dough is shaped into crescent-shaped cookies and baked until they are lightly golden. After baking, the cookies are rolled in vanilla sugar, which gives them their distinctive sweet, vanilla flavor.
Zimtsterne, also known as cinnamon stars, are a traditional German Christmas cookie that dates back several centuries. The recipe likely originated in medieval monasteries, where cinnamon was prized for its medicinal properties. The cookies became popular throughout Germany and have since become a staple of holiday baking. They are particularly associated with the regions of Saxony and Thuringia.
The cookies are made from a mixture of ground almonds, powdered sugar, and cinnamon, which is formed into a dough and cut into star shapes. The stars are then baked and often topped with a layer of icing made from egg whites and powdered sugar. Today, zimtsterne remain a beloved Christmas treat in Germany and are also enjoyed in other countries, including Switzerland and Austria.
Linzer Plätzchen, also known as Linzer cookies, are a type of traditional German Christmas cookie. The recipe has its roots in the Austrian city of Linz, where it is believed to have been developed in the 17th century. The original recipe was a variation of the Linzertorte, a type of cake made with a crust of ground nuts and flour, filled with jam, and topped with a lattice crust. Over time, the recipe evolved into a cookie, with the ground nuts and flour forming a tender, crumbly texture, and the jam filling providing a sweet and tangy contrast.
The cookies gained popularity in Germany in the 19th century, when they became a favorite of the aristocracy and were often served at holiday gatherings. Today, Linzer cookies are a beloved Christmas treat throughout Germany and are often baked in the shape of stars, hearts, or other festive designs. They are made with a combination of ground almonds and hazelnuts, spiced with cinnamon and lemon zest, and filled with raspberry or apricot jam. The top cookie is often dusted with powdered sugar for a festive touch.