Smells like Christmas
Our house is getting more Christmas-y by the minute what with the wrapped presents piling up in the living room ready to be packed for our trip to Europe, my makeshift advent wreath (a few fake evergreen twigs and four candles), a pretty poinsettia (which by the way in German is called Christmas star :)), and icicle lights in front of our house. And since I’ve started the Christmas cookie baking day before yesterday, our house also smells like Christmas now. Last year (or the year before?) my sister gave me a book with recipes for German Christmas cookies: “Weihnachtsplaetzchen” by Elisabeth Bangert. I selected a lot of possibles and bought most of the ingredients a few days ago. Boy, can you spend a lot of money on nuts and stuff! That didn’t come as a surprise this year since I’ve been baking my own cookies and cakes here for a while. Apparently ground hazelnuts, ground almonds, etc. are much more common in Germany (and hence cheaper) than in Texas. Oh well, once a year, right?!
My Mom’s Muerbeteig Recipe for Traditional Cookies
Instead of starting off the baking marathon with the fancy recipes from the book, I began with my mom’s trusted recipe for Christmas cookies (think sweet shortcrust decorated with chocolate, sugar in different colors, etc.). You can use this Muerbeteig recipe for all kinds of things: cookies, pie crusts, or without the sugar for a quiche. Like most of my mom’s recipes, this one for Muerbeteig (as I said, like sweet shortcrust) doesn’t come in exact numbers which makes it somewhat scary, but also fun. Here it goes:
- You put about 1-1.5 cups of flour in a little mound on a clean surface, make a little hollow on top of the pile and add about half the amount in sugar. You push the middle down again and add some vanilla sugar and some baking power and a little bit of salt (if the butter you use isn’t salted already).
- Then you add one egg (both the yolk and the egg white) and mix the egg with some of the sugar with a fork. After that, use your hands to put the flour from the sides over everything.
- After that you cut up a stick of butter and put it everywhere on the flour.
- Now it’s time to knead everything until you have a nice piece of dough. Wrap it in cling wrap and leave it in the fridge for a few hours.
- Once it’s cool, you roll it out on a table with flour (so it doesn’t stick) and cut out your cookies in whatever shape you like. I used three different ones (see top left of this paragraph).
- Bake the cookies on parchment paper for about 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven (about 350 F) and let them cool down. Don’t worry if they’re a little soft when you take them out since they harden while cooling down. When they are cool you can decorate them with chocolate, sugar, etc. Guten Appetit!
Here’s a picture of my cookies from yesterday. Aren’t they pretty? Haha, so proud of my cookies 🙂
More Cookie Options
On my list of possibles from the book for the next few days are: Baiser-Plaetzchen (meringue), Liebesgruebchen (butter cookies with raspberry jam),Gebackenes “S” (nut cookies in S-form), Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), and/or Lebkuchen (ginger bread). I also like this recipe for Kokos-Makronen (macaroons). I made it last year and it turned out really well. Not sure how many cookies I get through before I call it quits and get fed up with kneading dough and cutting cookies, but I’m pretty sure the meringue and the macaroons will make the final cut. And since you use only egg whites for both of those, I kind of have to make some of the other ones as well, since I don’t want to waste all the egg yolks 😉
Are you guys making Christmas cookies as well?
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