Traditional German Christmas Recipes – Weihnachtskekse

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An old German Christmas tradition is baking Christmas cookies – Weihnachtsplätzchen or Weihnachtskekse as they are called in German. Baking is a great activity that the whole family can share. Therefore, many German families insist on setting one day aside for making their favorite Christmas cookies from scratch. Baking early will mean enjoying them throughout the holidays!

Below is a recipe for basic German Christmas cookies. The advantage is that it can easily be modified to allow for cookie variations. For example, add cocoa powder to the recipe for darker cookies or ground walnuts, hazelnuts or peanuts for nut cookies recipe.

German Christmas Cookie Ingredients

In Germany, Backpulver (baking soda) and Vanillezucker (vanilla sugar) is packaged in little sachets of maybe 10 g. If this is not available, use two teaspoons of extra sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract (Vanillearoma) and one teaspoon of baking powder instead in this recipe.

  • 125 g Butter oder Margarine – butter or margarine [bootah odah mahgahreenah]
  • 250 g Zucker – sugar [tsookah]
  • 2 Päckchen Vanillezucker – vanilla sugar [tzvey pakhien vahneelahtsookah]
  • 2 Eier – eggs [eyah]
  • 500 g Mehl – flour [mehl]
  • ½ Päckchen Backpulver – baking powder or baking soda [eyn hahlbahz pakhien bahkpoolvah]
  • 1 Prise Salz – pinch of salt [eynah preezah zalts]

Recommended reading: Best German Cookbooks

How to Make German Christmas Cookies

  1. Mix butter, sugar and the eggs in a bowl and beat until the mixture has a creamy texture.
  2. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. Mix the baking powder with the flour.
  4. Add it to the mixture. Not all at once, first a little bit, mix it and then proceed.

The mixture should turn into a firm, non-sticky dough. If it is sticky, add more flour. If it is crumbly, add a bit more butter. Don’t forget, the more kneading, the better the dough. So don’t use a spoon, get in there with the hands and go for it!

Then, on a surface with a little bit of flour, roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is about 1 cm (or half an inch) thick. With Ausstechförmchen (cookie cutters) make the desired cookie shapes and place them on a greased Backblech (baking tray). In the preheated oven, bake at 180 degrees Celsius (360 degrees Fahrenheit) 10 to 20 minutes until light brown.

Christmas Cookie Decorations

A fun activity for children is decorating the Christmas cookies. The probably easiest way is to dip them in melted chocolate – yum! Before it is dry, decorate the cookies with sprinkles, nuts or candy for extra color. For non-chocolate lovers, mix powdered sugar and one tablespoon of lemon juice for Zitronenguss (lemon coating) and coat the cookies with it, adding further decorations if desired.

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