German days are short, since Germany is on the same latitude as Nova Scotia (Canada), and lots of candles, tea, cookies and other delicacies are very welcome. Some of these recipes are very old and some of newer origin, but all are familiar to Germans everywhere.
1. Christmas Cookies - Spice
Christmas baking in Germany starts early and extends through New Year's. Many traditional baked goods can only be found during the Christmas season. Christmas baking is spicy, a tradition dating back to when spices were precious commodities that were unaffordable for most people. Common Christmas spices include cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper and allspice. Cinnamon, used all year long in the US, is so closely associated with Christmas, that its smell causes Germans to say, "Hier riecht es nach Weihnachten!" (It smells like Christmas in here.)
2. Christmas Cookies - Nuts
Nuts are used extensively in German baking, especially at Christmas time. Marzipan and almonds, of course, are favorite ingredients, but fresh hazelnuts are also popular. Pecans are native to the North American continent and are less well known, and walnuts are used only when a bitter note is wanted.
3. Cookie Recipes - Shortbread Style
Almost every cook has the ingredients for sugar cookies on hand. These cookies are variations on shortbread or sugar cookies. Simple or intricate, sugar cookies are a baker's mainstay and beloved by almost everyone.
- Black and Whites (Checkerboard Cookies)
- Step by Step Instructions for Checkerboard Cookies
- Allgauer Butter S
- Chocolate-Orange Cookies
- Marzipan Cookies - 2 Fillings
4. Filled Cookies
5. Christmas Baking - Stollen and Bread
Cakes baked during this season are dry, to last awhile. Christmas cakes are often leavened with yeast and are not as sweet as cookies but go very well with a cup of hot tea. Stollen, in particular, is filled with nuts and raisins, symbols of wealth in earlier ages.
6. Christmas-y Drinks
8. Getting Organized for a German Christmas
Germany goes all out for Christmas. Decorations include candles on the window sills and in the Christmas tree (with the appropriate precautions), special linens, an Adventskranz (wreath with candles), and plenty of Christmas baking.
9. Buy German Christmas Goodies
If you are interested in what Germans buy for Christmas goodies, take a look here.
Dominosteine are little petite fours with a Lebkuchen base, marzipan and apricot layers and a chocolate coating.
Baumschmuck (tree ornaments) are often made from chocolate or fondant and decorated with glitter and sugar pearls.
Lübecker Marzipan is the best known Marzipan and is sold as little loafs, covered in chocolate. The bite sized loafs are often flavored, while the larger loafs are sliced thin and served like cake.
Marzipankartoffeln are easy to make at home, but are most often a purchased item. Marzipan is formed into little balls and then rolled in cocoa powder to imitate the skin of a potato.
Glühwein is easy to make at home, but most people satisfy their craving for it at one of the Christmas markets where they serve it unsweetened in the open air and everyone adds sugar to taste.