Lebkuchen are an integral part of the German Christmas, and all Christmas markets in the country bask in the irresistible aroma of Germany’s favorite cookie. Lebkuchen are very similar to gingerbread, though perhaps less crispy. They come in varied shapes and sizes, with various icings and glazes, and are sometimes sprinkled with nuts. Many of them have messages scrawled on them in icing.
Vanillekipferln (vanilla crescents)
These crescent-shaped cookies are the pride of the Bavarian town of Nördlingen, though they are extremely popular across Germany and several other European countries. They are traditionally made of walnuts, but variations made of hazelnuts or almonds are equally yummy. They come blanketed in vanilla sugar. If you are not careful, you can polish off an entire plate of these without even realizing it!
These cookies have a history dating back to the 15th century, and originally baked in Bavaria and Swabia. The uniqueness of this cookie lies in the intricate designs embossed on them, which is achieved by skillfully pressing a rolling pin or mold with a design onto the dough. The bottom layer of the cookie consists of anise seeds.
Pfeffernüsse (pepper nuts)
Pfeffernuss is just what you need to take a break from all the sweetness. These tiny cookies combine several spices, most commonly cinnamon, cloves, mace, nutmeg, cardamom, and anise. Some bakers add powdered sugar, honey, or molasses to add a dash of sweetness to the taste, while some like to add nuts. There is no way you can stop at one!
Bethmännchen are a specialty of Frankfurt and the star of Frankfurt’s Christmas markets. These small, ball-shaped cookies are made of marzipan, rosewater, flour, sugar, and eggs. Each cookie is garnished with three slices of almond.
Heidesand (heather sand)
These delightful cookies from Lower Saxony have a rich buttery flavor. They are so named as the cookie dough is light beige in color, much like sand. Traditionally they are plain and crumbly, but some bakeries add chocolate to them for variation.
Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars)
These egg white and almond concoctions are as tasty as they are cute to behold. Generous helpings of cinnamon are added to the dough, resulting in a tempting aroma and a sweet-spicy flavor.
These flavourful cookies are practically festive cheer on a plate. Flour, vanilla sugar, cinnamon, hazelnuts, and a generous dose of Glühwein and red wine go into these, lending the cookies a heady, intoxicating aroma.