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Need German cookie or baked goods ideas for an Octoberfest event

A group I'm involved in is having a fundraising silent wine auction in conjunction with an event that is scheduled at the end of October. To add a new twist to our wine auction, we will be promoting German wines. And to add a further twist, we are adding sort of a lottery aspect, so that when someone picks a bottle, there may be a sticker on the bottom, letting them know they have won a German prize of some kind (like a gift certificate to a German restaurant, os some such.)

One of the prizes we want to include would be some German cookies or candies we could make that would be good. I'm picturing making a big batch of something, like some German Christmas cookies and putting them in plastic or cellophane bags. The idea is just to help fill our out prizes roster and add a little German flair to things.

Any ideas for good German cookies or something else like that we could make?

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  1. Mini-strudels? Apple-based baked desserts are common there. Just remember that German Chocolate Cake is not German ("German" was a brand name of baking chocolate).

    1. Springerle are a German Cookie flavored with crushed anise. Traditionally they are shaped with a wooden and floured mold. But the one time I made them I made them like refrigerator cookies and they came out fine.

      8 Replies
      1. re: scharffenberger

        A very good idea. I had a springerle mold made out of resins that had been made from an antique one. So I made them once. And it was easier to do than I thought it would be. And the springerle were absolutely beautiful. Just gorgeous. But also hard as rocks. I was afraid people would crack their teeth on them. I just sold my mold at a garage sale a few weeks ago -- to someone whose family made them and had brought a wooden mold from Europe that had been in their family for many many years.

        So I'm glad I tried them -- but no mold this time around.

        1. re: karykat

          This is a cookie I just don't get. My father-in-law (2nd gen German-American) loved them and my mother-in-law would make them for him - but he was the only one in the house (all of whom love/d anise flavor) who would touch them.

          1. re: buttertart

            Yes, alas, it seems many German cookies need to be "something you grew up with" to be able to enjoy them. Add lebkuchen and pfeffernusse to this, in my experience, but I have found the vanilla kipferl are more widely enjoyed.

            1. re: buttertart

              Interesting! I'm quite the opposite: generally hate anise, but love springerle! We always had mountains of Springerle and Anislaibchen around in december (with the inevitable last few discovered, hard as rocks, in March....) I make both from time to time, but generally find that for some reason, friends love the the springerle but don't "get" the anislaibchen at all. Maybe they really don't like either of them, and it's just the scenes that make the springerle fun?

              1. re: another_adam

                Do you dip them in coffee to eat? Or maybe mine were just harder than they should have been?

                1. re: karykat

                  Yeah, once they're hard, you have to dunk/soak them to avoid breaking a tooth :) When they're not so old, though, they should be perfectly biteable-- pleasantly toothsome, but not hard to bite off! It might depend on how you leaven them: hartshorn is said to produce the nicest texture, whereas just sugar and eggs makes a more meringuey cookie that gets harder faster.
                  (My mother didn't always use hartshorn, and I've never used it myself-- so I'm not really sure of the details or science behind it!)

                  1. re: another_adam

                    It's a baking ammonia that volatilizes when heated (but is a bit smelly when in the oven, and the cookies my Canandian mother used to make with it - old-fashioned lemon sugar cookies, her grandmother's recipe - had a bit of an off smell as well). I suppose it gives a different sort of aereation - size of bubbles, fragmentation? - to the batter when volatilzing from that caused by baking powder/soda/cream of tartar/egg whites. I love German baking - have and use "The German Pastry Bakebook" from the 70's as well as "Kaffeehaus" and a lot of Dr Oetker etc. books from Germany. Maybe I should get hold of my MIL's Springerle molds and give them another try.

                2. re: another_adam

                  I don't like anise or springerle, haha; then again, even though my mother's German, it's not something she ever made. Kipferl, yes. And we always had the stars and lebkuchen at Xmas. But I love me some kipferl any time of the year.

                  Have you tried vanilla kipferl?

          2. You have to make vanilla kipferl!!! They are Germany's answer to shortbread, and they are so yummy.

            Here's a recipe and photo:

            http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Vanille-...

            3 Replies
            1. re: Full tummy

              These look very good. Are they crunchy like a shortbread? Or soft? I thought they looked soft but see you liken them to the shortbread.

              1. re: karykat

                They aren't crunchy or soft, sort of in between. Firm and a little crumbly, maybe even sandy. I love them; they're pretty and have flavours that aren't strong or offensive to those who didn't grow up eating them, as I did.

              2. You could make stollen, which is a traditional German cake usually baked and given as gifts around Christmas time. Most are yeast-risen, but my Grandmother's recipe (she immigrated here from Germany when she was in her 20s) has no yeast. If you're interested let me know and I'll give you the recipe. It's super-easy and one recipe makes 2 loaves.

                3 Replies
                1. re: dagwood

                  Ahhhh! You have a super-easy stollen recipe, and it turns out yummy. Stollen is so hard to make, usually, and I have eaten many a disaster of chokingly dry concoctions. Please do share your recipe!!!!

                  1. re: Full tummy

                    The key is a ridiculously decadent amount of butter :) I'll dig it up (I only make it at Christmas) and share w/in the next couple of days.

                    1. re: dagwood

                      That would be great. Unbelievable amounts of butter are fine for a once a year treat!!!

                2. My favorite, Heidesand cookies, would be good - there are recipes on Recipezaar and similar, but my German cookbooks instruct you to brown the butter and cool it before creaming it with the sugar. They taste nutty without nuts. Short and delicious.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: buttertart

                    The brown butter makes everything taste good! I wonder if these Heidesand are anything like the spoon cookies on epicurious. They are just about my favorite. The brown butter adds an elusive something.

                    1. re: karykat

                      Brown butter is good in just about anything (madeleines for example). Heidesand taste like the spoon cookies but are much less fiddly since they are refrigerator cookies and you just slice and bake. I discovered them after a long hunt for something my husband knew as a kid as "Pfeffernuesse" - a very small sandy cookie obviously not that but called that for some reason by the nice German ladies next door - asked a German friend if she knew anything of the sort and she came up with these. Apparently they are as close as anything the family has found but not quite as good. (Is anything ever?)