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German Christmas Cookies, Translated

The tradition of cookie baking is strong in the German side of my husband’s family.  The book Backen fur Weihnachten, beautifully photographed with step by step instructions, bridges the language gap.

Each year we make cookies we’ve never made before. This year the pistachio cookies with dark chocolate launched the season.  I made one mistake, interpreting zitronensaft as lemon zest instead of juice. Actually, I used lime zest, which seemed strong the first day, but mellowed in the following days.

Next up, Schoko-Mandel-Makronen.


These turned into mocha almond macarons, made of fluffy egg whites, powdered sugar, grated chocolate and ground toasted almonds. The recipe also called for 2 tablespoons of cocoa, and we were out, so I substituted 1 tablespoon of ground coffee beans. And since I like the German expression of “knife’s point” of cinnamon, I added a “knife’s point” of cayenne pepper. Surely there is a very long German phrase that will describe the subtle background notes these spices lent to the coffee and chocolate. Or maybe not.

Next, I wanted a butter cookie.


In past years we’ve made Vanillekipferln, those powered sugar crescent-shaped butter cookies. But powered sugar is messy, and we wanted to make something new.

Butter-Ausstecherele is the name of these rolled and cut cookies. The dough was very soft, so I rested it in the fridge, rolled it out (it needed a lot of flour) in batches, and put the cookie sheets in the fridge while when rolling out the next portion.

I made a translation mistake again. Befuddled by abgeriebene schale einer halben zitrone, I added lime juice, but no zest.

For the icing, the recipe suggested using zitronensaft, which we all now know means lemon juice.  Instead, I used bourbon vanilla. I do not regret it.







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