Episode 44: German and Austrian Christmas Biscuits

Linzer Augen

Linzer augen, or ‘eyes from Linz’ (a city in Austria)

I used this recipe from Nigella, though I changed the proportions of flour and hazelnuts to 200g of each. This made it very sticky to roll out, so I’m not sure I’d recommend it, but it was delicious and they probably keep better. I couldn’t get hold of redcurrant jelly so I just used raspberry jam, but I think the redcurrant would help both balance the sweetness and fat with more acidity, and also provide a brighter colour. In future I might try finding a more tart jam. It’s not traditional but a curd would also be lovely.

Pfeffernusse

Adapted from London Eats.

Pfeffernusser, or ‘pepper nuts’
  • 150g all-purpose/ plain flour
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 150g runny honey
  • 100g sugar (depending on the flavour of your honey you may want to use light brown sugar or caster/granulated)
  • 1 tsp cold water
  • 60g egg (1 UK large / US extra large)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Icing sugar and water (I’m afraid I didn’t really measure this)
  1. Preheat oven to 375F / 190C.
  2. Put the honey and sugar in a pan and put on a low heat. Heat up, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the spices and salt. Add the tsp cold water. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Allow to cool to warm. Add the egg and combine. Add the flour, ground almonds and baking powder, baking soda and combine.
  4. Roll into walnut-sized balls. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool completely
  5. When cooled, make a paste of icing sugar and water. Dip the cookies in this paste. Alternatively, some recipes suggest rolling them icing sugar – do as you wish! They do need the extra burst of sugar as their interior isn’t overly sweet.

Vanillakipferl

I’ve essentially just halved this recipe from Plated Cravings for my two-person household. I also very slightly changed the method. Though, they keep well and it’s very easy to eat a lot of these, so you may want to stick to the original quantities!

Makes 20

For the dough:

  • 125g all purpose / plain flour
  • pinch of salt (a large pinch if your butter is unsalted?)
  • 115g butter, softened
  • 45g powdered / icing sugar
  • 100g ground almonds (you could sub in hazelnuts or pecans)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or scraped seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean

For the vanilla sugar:

  • 45g powdered/ icing sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla sugar (I like the fine one from Danish brand Torsleffs, because you need to be able to sift it. If yours has bigger grains of sugar, you could process it with the powdered sugar in a food processor to make it fine. You can also make your own by mixing vanilla seeds with sugar and leaving for a couple of days.)
  1. Combine all. I opted to cream the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla, then the flour and ground almonds.
  2. Chill well for an hour or more. Towards the end of this time, preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F (convection).
  3. Split into twenty pieces of c.19g each.
  4. Roll into small crescents. Refrigerate again for 10 minutes. (I tried not doing this and they came out more flat.)
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are turning golden. They are meant to be soft. 12 was plenty for mine.
  6. While still warm, sift over half the vanilla sugar mixture. When cool, sift over the rest.

Hausfreunde

Recipe converted to metric and slightly adapted from Food and Wine.

Makes 24

  • 240g flour
  • 50g sugar – I used caster but granulated equally good
  • 170g butter, softened
  • 1 large egg (mine weighed 60g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (less if using salted butter)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g marzipan
  • 140g dark chocolate
  • 24 walnut halves, toasted in a low oven for 10 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • A handful of powdered sugar
  1. Cream butter and sugar to combine. Add egg, vanilla, salt and flour and beat to combine. Wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F / 180C (convection). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 in or 1/2 cm thick. Cut out cookies using a 2 – 2.25 inch / 5cm cutter. Space out on a lined baking tray with about an inch between them. Bake for 10 minutes. (I have no idea why the original recipe specifies 20 – it’s way too long for cookies this size.) Cool completely before assembling.
  3. To assemble, roll out marzipan on a surface dusted with powdered sugar and cut out 2in / 5cm rounds. Warm the apricot jam. Brush on both undersides of the biscuit with the jam, sandwich the two halves with a circle of marzipan. Melt the dark chocolate and dip the biscuits, or pour the chocolate over if you prefer. Top with a walnut and brush with more apricot jam or dust with powdered sugar.

Published by Kate

Home baker and now podcaster!

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