1. Vanillekipferln (vanilla crescents)
Photo: Astrid Kopp / Flickr
These delightful little crescent-shaped biscuits just melt in your mouth. They are normally made from ground almonds or hazelnuts, and then given a heavy dusting of vanilla sugar. More-ish is an understatement – you’ll easily devour a whole plate of these.
Here’s a recipe to try.
Photo: Frank C. Müller / Wikimedia Commons
Traditionally anise-flavoured, bakers create the intricate designs by using a special rolling pin printed with images. The first German examples of such prints were in the 15th century and designs have been evolving ever since.
Ken Hamilton calls himself “The Springerle Baker” and provides a pretty comprehensive recipe.
3. Pfeffernüsse (pepper nuts)
Photo: Dan Phiffer / Wikimedia Commons
Despite the name, these cookies don’t necessarily contain nuts – it depends on what recipe you use. Traditionally, a Pfeffernuss is baked with honey and spiced up with ground cloves, cinnamon and allspice.
There’s a recipe here to get you going.
Photo: Silar / Wikimedia Commons
German gingerbread comes in several forms, though its often glazed with either a thin icing or chocolate. It’s less crispy than a gingerbread man and definitely more, well, bread like. There’ll be no shortage of these at the Christmas markets, as you’ll see hundreds of different designs hanging from stalls.
They come in all shapes and sizes, but here’s a BBC recipe to try out.
5. Berliner Brot (Berlin bread)
Photo: Julian Schüngel / Flickr
Another nutty treat, these brownie look-a-likes are harder to find than the Lebkuchen. They also combine the delicious flavours of hazelnut, almond, cinnamon and sugar, and are well worth a try.
Try out the recipe here, and see how long they last in your kitchen.
6. Bethmännchen (little Bethman)
Photo: Astrid Kopp / Flickr
Most commonly found in Frankfurt, these Christmas pastries are made mainly from marzipan, rosewater and sugar, and are normally decorated with almonds around the outside. These tiny mouthfuls of joy will impress everyone at your Christmas party.
German-born food blogger, the Daring Gourmet has a great recipe for the treats here.
7. Heidesand (heather sand)
Photo: Thomas Kohler / Flickr
These Lower-Saxon crumbly biscuits have an addictive buttery flavour. Traditionally just made from a light-coloured cookie-dough – that’s why they’re named after sand – there are now many different variations on the recipe, such as the chocolatey ones pictures above.
The Daring Gourmet also has a recipe with step-by-step pictures for a more traditional Heidesand.
8. Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars)
Photo: Winfried Mosler / Flickr
We wouldn’t dare make a list of cookies and not include these beauties. “Cinnamon stars” are made from egg whites and almonds and a whole lot of cinnamon, resulting in a sweet cookie with a kick.
Alright, some people might point out that Printen are a type of Lebkuchen, and they’re right, but we feel they warrant their own spot on our list. Originating in Aachen, these cookies are sweetened with honey or sugar beet syrup. Some bakeries offer versions covered in nuts, coated in chocolate, or blanketed with marzipan.
Check out this recipe and make your own Aachen Printen this winter.
10. Haselnussmakronen (hazelnut macaroons)
Egg whites, ground hazelnuts and sugar are all you need to produce these chewy delights. Top them with a hazelnut or a candied cherry and then dip them in chocolate – you can’t go wrong. Though, come to think of it, you also couldn’t go wrong by applying all three techniques to one cookie.
This recipe adds a raspberry twist to the Haselnussmakronen, and it’s apparently so easy – “you just throw the dough together, heat up some jam and you’re almost there.”