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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:


            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?)

                  2. For candies: I always marvelled at marzipan animals when I was a child. They're true works of art.

                    For baked goods:
                    Bienenstich: Vanilla custard-filled cakes topped with honey almonds
                    Donauwelle: Chocolate and vanilla swirl cake with custard and sour cherries
                    Pflaumenkuchen: Plum cake, perfect for this time of year
                    Franzbrötchen: the Hamburg version of a cinnamon croissant
                    Mohnkipferl: poppyseed crescent cookies (though my favorite kipferl are dipped in strawberry icing)
                    Engelsaugen: fruit-filled butter cookies
                    Brezn: Bavarian pretzels

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: JungMann

                      I love bienenstich, plum cake and pretzels, but those are things that have a very short life span in a package. Marzipan animals and fruit can be impressive, but many people don't like marzipan. (I know, I've tried to win people over...)

                      I love zimsterne (cinnamon stars) and pfeffernusse (gingerbread-type cookies), too, and they would be a great option if the prize was to be given around Christmas time (which is when these cookies are typically eaten.)

                      Here's a great little website with a variety:


                      1. re: Full tummy

                        The zimsterne sound like a good possibility. Also the kipferl. And the butter cookies.

                      1. re: lgss

                        I remember as a kid the pfeffernusse cookies my grandmother and aunt made. Hard as rocks. Maybe they were supposed to be dipped into coffee? I've seen recipes with real pepper in them. Not sure if they all have that though.

                      2. Oktoberfest is a celebration of Bavarian beer, and has nothing to do with wine. It takes place late September/early October. Whatever your group is doing, it has nothing to do with Oktoberfest.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: pikawicca

                          Yes, I know. We know it is not authentic or anything. Just trying to inject a little spark into an event that needs something new.

                          1. re: karykat

                            Well then, why don't you give it an appropriate name? German BakeFest works, as there are so many great German baked goods. If you're doing baked goods, Oktoberfest just doesn't compute.

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              I guess this is whimsy, not math, haha.

                        2. Lebkuchen. A nice bar or cookie with citron, honey, mellow spices.....we used to receive decorative tins of them from Nurenburg Treasures!

                          1. I know these are Christmas cookies but they look so amazing. And there's a huge variety. I stumbled across this German Christmas cookie article in the Telegraph (UK), sadly, after Christmas this year so haven't tried any. There are actually more embedded in the main article than there are links in the side bar . . . just keep clicking on the various recipes and you'll find more in the new side bar - if that makes any sense. What about Rick Rodgers' Kaffeehaus? Altho' that's Viennese there would be good crossover. I don't own it or would check. Wld the library have it?



                            2 Replies
                            1. re: cinnamon girl

                              Those Orangenplatzchen look devine - a chocolate-almond cookie with a dab of orange marmalade, a layer of marzipan, and the whole dipped in dark chocolate. I've saved the recipe, but I really just want to taste one right this minute!

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                Those are the ones that appealed to me too. If I make them this winter I'll be sure to let know how they are (if they turn out that is)!

                            2. p.s. If you click on the recipe for Vanillekipferl there's a picture of the assortment:


                              1. Sacher-torte cookies!!!! Ok, it is not authentic German fare - but Austrian - but they are so good no one will care. They are little chocolate wafer cookies spread with apricot jam and dipped in dark chocolate. Sorry, I dont have a recipe for them...but I buy them all the time at the supermarket. I'm sure you could easily make something similar.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: msmarabini

                                  Now that is a stretch. Sounds good, though.

                                  Sacher torte itself is authentic Austrian, but definitely not sacher torte cookies.

                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                    I was going to suggest Black Forest Cake, but then I re-read the post. In light of that, I would second the Lebkuchen suggestion.

                                2. If you having an Octoberfest be sure to have homemand pretzels....I went to a one in LA a while back and the pretzels were a huge hit.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: energy

                                    Pretzels are a great idea! Better than cookies, given the theme of the event.

                                    My parents grew up in Germany but my mother never made any of the spicy cookies or marzipan, since she was the only one who'd eat them. She contented herself with a tin of storebought Lebkuchen each Christmas. Germans have wonderful kuchen and tortes but most of the cookies are an acquired taste, as is the citron in stollen, which suffers from fruitcake syndrome. The buttery sugar cookie types are a safer bet.

                                  2. I have the "Dr. Oetker Back Buch", which has lots of Plätzchen (cookies), also under heading of Kleingebäck (small baked). The book that I have is in German, so must take the time to translate the recipes. There is a duplicate of this book in English, so perhaps if you go to a Public Library you can locate it in English language.

                                    A website with a recipe:

                                    1. Nancy Baggett's "The International Cookie Cookbook" has a recipe for "Hasselnuss Spritzgeback", i.e. hazelnut shortbread. I have made it many times; it is light and tasty. You also have the option of drizzling chocolate over it. I can post the recipe if you are interested.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: souschef

                                        Oh, please post the recipe for ME!!! That sounds delicious.

                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                          Here you go:

                                          1/2 cup whole hazelnuts
                                          1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
                                          1/2 cup granulated sugar
                                          1 large egg
                                          1-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                          1/8 teaspoon salt
                                          1-1/4 cups all-purpose or unbleached white flour

                                          CHOCOLATE GLAZE
                                          1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
                                          1 ounce semisweet chocolate
                                          1/4 teaspoon solid shortening.

                                          Toast the nuts at 325F for 16-18 minutes, or until the skins begin to loosen and the nuts begin to brown. Cool, then remove the skins by rubbing in a towel. Process in a food processer till finely ground.

                                          Beat butter till light. Add sugar. Beat till smooth/fluffy. Blend in egg, vanilla and salt. Gradually add flour and beat. Fold in nuts.

                                          Put dough into a pastry bag with a star tip (3/4 " dia). Pipe 2-inch long strips of dough on lightly-greased baking sheets, spacing about 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake in centre of 350F oven for 9 to 11 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Remove from oven, let stand for a minutes, then transfer to a rack and let cool slightly.

                                          Combine glaze ingredients in the top of a double boiler over simmering water till melted. Then, using a spoon, drizzle lines of chocolate across the cookies. Let stand till set. Makes 40 - 45.

                                          I usually don't bother with the chocolate - anxious to scoff them !

                                          1. re: souschef

                                            Oh yum yum. Looks fab. Thank you so much!!!

                                            1. re: Full tummy

                                              You're welcome. I forgot to mention that I sometimes make them with ground almonds, and they are just as nice.

                                              1. re: souschef

                                                That would probably make them a little more like kipferl, sans powdered sugar, plus chocolate dip... Yummy!!!!

                                      2. Thanks for all these great ideas.

                                        At moment I'm leaning to the kipferl, spritzgebacken and heidesand with brown butter.

                                        The pretzels sound interesting too for something different.

                                        Thanks everyone.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: karykat

                                          If you are having an Oktoberfest you need a few dozen big soft pretzels.