In Germany the time before Christmas is a time of anticipation, and also one of preparation and decisions. It is not known as "Adventszeit ist Plätzchenzeit" for nothing, and no home will be without its plate of mixed plätzchen, Christmas Cookies, with a variety of nuts having to be in there somewhere.
But what to bake this year, nut flavored Cinnamon Stars again or perhaps something different.
For anyone who likes nut cookies here are two very quick and simple recipes, which are classics and among the favorites found on any dish of German plätzchen. They haven't changed since they used to come out of "Oma's" kitchen, and can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
INGREDIENTS for about 30:
12 oz (250 g) ground hazelnuts
7 oz (180 g) sugar
Whites of four large eggs
2 drops bitter almond oil
Shelled hazelnuts for decoration
Rice Paper circles of approx 2.1/2 inches (70 mm), which are called "Oblaten" and look like Catholic communion wafers, or a sheet of rice paper which has been shaped using a cup or biscuit cutter as a template and then cut.
Whip the eggs whites until really stiff. Until a mark left by a knife stays and doesn't "melt" away
Gradually add the sugar
When that has combined continue stirring and add the cinnamon and bitter almond flavoring
Very carefully stir through the hazelnuts. If this is done too energetically then all the air will come out from the mixture and the cookie will be hard
Add teaspoon sized portions to your paper circles or the sheet of rice paper
Add one hazelnut to decorate
Place in preheated oven, 175 degrees C, 350 F
Baking takes about 15 to 20 minutes until they are turning a light golden brown
After you have tried the recipe once the amount of hazelnuts can be adjusted to your own taste, and also the cooking time to make them more or less crunchy.
ALMOND NUT COOKIES
6 oz (150 g) Butter
10 oz (250 g) Sugar
2 medium to large eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
small pinch salt
10 oz (250 g) ground Almonds
10 oz (250 g) all purpose flour
Shelled hazelnuts or almonds for decoration
Butter to grease baking sheet
1 egg and 2 tablespoons milk, well combined, for coating cookies
Combine butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy.
Add ground cinnamon and salt, mix thoroughly
Add ground almonds and flour and mix by hand, or with the dough hook on an electric mixer until it is smooth.
Form into a large ball, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator or somewhere cool for about 30 minutes.
Grease baking sheet
Make walnut sized balls from the dough, and press a hazelnut or almond in the middle
Place the nut balls on the sheet and brush with the egg and milk mix
Put into an oven which has been preheated to 175 – 200 degrees C, 380 F, and bake for 8 to 12 minutes
Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool on cooling rack
Instead of cinnamon it is possible to add a few drops of rum, this combines beautifully with the nut flavor.
Whatever time of year you have them ENJOY your "Keks mit Nüsse", your nut cookies.