Stollen, Printen and marzipan: People all over the world love German Christmas pastries
Haribo’s gummi bears, Ritter Sport’s classic square chocolate bars and Werther’s Original hard caramels are just a few of Germany’s many sweets that have been exported abroad successfully for decades. However, the country’s internationally best-known and most popular confections are its traditional Christmas pastries, including Stollen, Printen and marzipan.
With the slogan ‘Haribo macht weltweit froh’ (People all over the world love Haribo), Bonn-based jelly manufacturer Haribo’s website states that the company’s products are exported to over 100 countries. Since 2012, in addition to Europe, the United States and Australia, Haribo has also had an office in Singapore in order ‘to open up new markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar’. Stork, the confection company founded in the small German town of Werther in 1903, also exports its product – Toffifee, Nimm2 and its Werther’s Original hard caramels – all over the world.
Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without German Christmas pastries
Most popular of all on the international market, however, are German Christmas pastries. Although today there are countless product brands, the traditional products continue to be the biggest export hits. They include Aachener Printen, marzipan from Lübeck and Christstollen from Dresden.
The traditional Christmas confections are usually produced in family enterprises, many of which have expanded from generation to generation to keep up with the international demand. However, the recipes for the products are well-guarded secrets. Many of the German Christmas items share the same ingredients: cinnamon and honey, brown sugar and anise, almonds and chocolate. But to turn a confection into an food with international acclaim, you need just the right mixture.
Recipe for Christmas pastries: Cinnamon Stars
If you would like to bake some traditional German Christmas cookies yourself, try this recipe for Cinnamon Stars.
You need the following ingredients:
190 g powdered sugar
100 g almonds (ground)
200 g hazelnuts (ground)
2 egg whites
1 tsp cinnamon
1 squirt lemon juice
Preparation: Beat egg whites and powdered sugar until stiff. Set aside one-third of the mixture and with a spoon, mix the rest of the mixture with the remaining ingredients, using only one-half of the hazelnuts. Knead the mixture. Spread the remaining hazelnuts and roll out the dough on top of the nuts to a thickness of about 8 to 10 mm. Cut out stars. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and place the cut-outs on the sheet. Brush the pastries with generous amounts of the remaining egg white. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Bake the Cinnamon Stars for approx. 10 to 12 minutes. After 8 minutes, use a wooden spoon to hold the oven door open a crack for the remaining baking time. Have fun and good luck!
Top secret: only the family knows the recipe for the Christmas pastries
‘No two marzipans are alike’, explains a master confectioner from the company Niederegger in the North German city of Lübeck. More important, he says, is the exact share of ground almonds and sugar. The marzipan manufactured by the confectioner is produced all year long in Lübeck in order to ensure that the different marzipan confections and ‘bread loaves’ are available on time for Christmas in over 40 countries. Although marzipan has always been produced in other places, such as France and Spain, the marzipan from Lübeck is considered to be such an exquisite speciality that a separate museum, the Niederegger Marzipansalon has been dedicated to it.
Video: Niederegger marzipan (in German only)
The city of Aachen, located in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is famous for its gingerbread specialty known as Printen. The biscuits come in hard and soft varieties, with or without a chocolate coating or with almonds or raisins. Many of the region’s bakeries that traditionally offered Aachener Printen at Christmas had to stop selling other baked goods at some point because the demand for Printen was so high. And it is not just the locals who love this classic German Christmas cookie. Tourists from Germany and abroad never fail to leave the city without having bought some Aachener Printen as souvenirs.
Video: Aachener Printen baker (in German only)
„No Christmas without Stollen“
The international star among the different German Christmas pastries is the Christstollen from Dresden, the capital of the federal state of Saxony. This German fruitcake is baked for export in many bakeries in Dresden and surroundings starting as early as August. There are also numerous varieties of Stollen, which is why in 2010, the Dresden Stollen bakers achieved legal protection for their traditional recipe for the fruitcake, which contains raisins and powdered sugar. Since then, the EU quality label has attested to the authenticity of the original Christmas cake, which was named the ‘brand of the century’ in November 2012.
Many countries have their own Stollen producers, however, such as the English German Bakery of Windsor, which has posted the following warning on its website: ‘No Christmas without Stollen! Please place your orders to avoid disappointment’. The following video shows exactly what sets the genuine Dresden Stollen apart from its imitators. Find out whether you can also buy it in your home country and at Christmas, give it a try!
Video: Dresden Stollen – a German Specialty
Community discussion on German Christmas pastries
What German sweets are you familiar with, and what do you like the best? Can you buy German Christmas pastries or other sweets from Germany in your home country? What traditional sweet specialities do you have where you live at Christmas? Tell us all about it in the Eating & Drinking Community group!