There are many different kinds of baked goods and treats you can only get around Christmas time in Germany, by which I mean that you can purchase them from every grocery store come mid July. The stores are really putting Christmas stuff up excessively early and it appears to be earlier every year. I figured for St. Nicholas Day this year I will give you a little tour around the Christmas treat aisle and introduce you to some German Christmas bakes and treats. Maybe you have heard about some of them, maybe you haven’t them. I always love hearing about things people have in their country, so I hope you will enjoy this.
Christmas time is cookie time everywhere and Germany is no exception. I have introduced you to many of these last year in the St. Nicholas Day Christmas Cookie Trifecta. Shortbread, Vanilla Crescent Cookies and Butter Cookies are absolute classics and too easy to bake to buy them. Another very popular Christmas cookie is called Zimtsterne, cinnamon stars in translation. They are an absolute nightmare to make. The cinnamon and nut dough is super sticky and the white meringue on top is an absolute mess. They are super delicious though and I am still surprised that anything cinnamon flavoured is considered christmassy in Germany.
Obviously Germany has a huge selection of lebkuchen, so I will have to narrow it down. Some places, such as Aachen, are really famous for a specific kind of Lebkuchen called Printen. Printen are rather hard lebkuchen biscuits, sometimes even sold with herbs called Aachener Kräuterprinten. Very popular are also Oblaten Lebkuchen. Those are round and soft lebkuchen cookies on top of a round edible paper glazed or topped with chocolate, milk or dark. You can also buy assortments of lebkuchen in various shapes either covered with chocolate or icing. You can also buy Lebkuchen Herzen, heart-shaped lebkuchen filled with apricot jam I think and covered in chocolate. As you ca see the classic gingerbread men you might know are not really a thing here, at least they did not used to be. Years ago I bought a gingerbread man cookie cutter on Amazon because I could not find one anywhere. Speculoos Cookies are also very popular this time of year, so popupar that they have started putting it into chocolate bars. Have you ever tried any of these cookies?
The most famous German Christmas cake is probably the Weihnachtsstollen or Christmas Stollen. It is an enriched yeast dough or a quick rise quark dough with rum raisins, candied fruits, nuts, marzipan and covered in a lot powdered sugar. There are a lot of varieties and some German cities are very famous for it such as Dresden. They even started making smaller versions to facilitate portion control I guess. If you hate raisins you can buy marzipan stollen. If you hate both raisins and marzipan you will have to make your own with Christmas Stollen Spice. Depending on the kind of Stollen you are making you are supposed to make them two to four weeks before Christmas, at least the enriched yeast dough one are supposed to.
Baumkuchen or Treecake is another cake that pops up around Christmas time. It is sometimes referred to as the “King of Cakes” and a pastry chef’s symbol of their profession according to Wikipedia, although I believe that has to have been made up. What’s supposed to be the big deal as you just have to bake each layer of the batter for about five minutes to create the dark layers inside. Afterwards you leave it to cool and cover it in chocolate. I made one years ago, you have to keep an eye on it but it is not difficult.
Around this time of year almost everything has marzipan in it. There are marzipan breads, which is marzipan in the shape of a loaf of bread covered in chocolate. Marzipan potatoes are small marzipan balls slightly covered in cocoa to make it look like a potato, which is the most random candy I can think of. Do you remember the last time you wanted candy and also wanted it to look like a vegetable? Me neither, they are delicious though. Last but not least there are so called Domino Steine, which are cubes consisting of lebkuchen, marzipan and jelly covered with chocolate that have nothing to do with playing domino. Sometimes you can also buy edible Christmas figurines made with marzipan.
Nougat is also a favourite flavour of the season and by nougat I mean a chocolate ganache-like or chocolate spread-like filling. You can buy Nougat Baumstämme, nougat tree trunks, and chocolate balls filled with nougat. Is it a ball or a bauble? I feel weird about referring to anything edible as a ball ever since I asked a Tesco employee whether he had nut and laughed at me. It took me a while to figure out why he laughed. Christmas time is a bad time for this fear as everything is ball-shaped. Anyway people seem to love nougat, which might be the alternative to marzipan. There also chocolate balls filled with eggnog and brandy. Rum truffles called Rumkugeln are also very popular in Germany around Christmas time. I’m not sure why as nothing about rum screams Christmas to me. Do you have those as well?
Any candy/sweet receives the Christmas treatment this time of year, which I am sure you have in your country as well. Candy you can buy all year round is put into a Christmas wrapper and sold for twice as much money and there is less in the package. Sometimes they come out with a special Christmas edition where they replace a shortbread cookie with speculoos or put a Santa hat on the Haribo gummy bears, but for the most part it is the special packaging. Do you know any of these cakes, cookies or treats? What kind of special Christmas treats do you have where you live? Hopefully this post was interesting to you and I wish you a wonderful St. Nicholas Day.