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Dec 15, 2013 06:30 AM

"Arrack" in German recipes?

I was looking through a German cookbook at a bookstore this afternoon and noticed that a number of the cookie/cake recipes called for "arrack."

I could only think of arak, a spirit common in SE Asia and decidedly not what I would expect of German cooking. Would anyone have an idea what is meant by "arrack?"

The cookbook was called "Grandma's German Cookbook" and the other odd thing about the cookbook was that it used both metric, imperial and US measurements - alternatively! So one recipe would feature US cups while the next recipe would only have grams/ounces.

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  1. That's what it is, Roland.

    (eta) BTW, which recipes? I have that cookbook,though I've never made anything from it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nofunlatte

      So it is arak. Odd, given the plethora of other spirits available in Europe. I've never tried arak in my travels through SE Asia so I have no clue what it tastes like.

      The recipe I quickly typed down in my smartphone is for the Franconian sugar cookies. It caught my attention as it called for both softened butter and clarified melted butter to be beaten together and I'm always on the outlook for intriguing baking techniques.

      But a few other recipes also called for arrack.

      1. re: Roland Parker

        Having lived in Franconia and had to walk past a Konditorei to and from work, I would love to have that recipe.

        Thank You.

        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

          This is the recipe (rough, mind you, as I only typed it down quickly):

          Franconian Butter Cookies

          125g unsalted butter, softened
          7tbsp unsalted clarified butter (presumably melted then clarified)
          200g sugar
          Pinch salt
          1 large egg
          1 tbsp arrack
          Zest of 1 lemon
          375g flour
          2 tsp cinnamon.

          Cream the two butters with 100g of sugar till creamy, then add the salt, egg, arrack, zest, flour and 1 tsp cinnamon and knead into a dough. Let it sit covered in the fridge for one hour.

          Preheat oven to 350.

          Roll out the dough either on lightly floured surface or between two sheets of plastic wrap, till 1/4inch (5mm) thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 15 minutes.

          Mix the remaining 100g of sugar with the remaining 1 tsp of cinnamon. While the cookies are still hot dip both sides into the sugar/cinnamon mix.

          The picture with the recipe showed an attractive cookie that seemed to have a base and a slightly crumbly "top" which is where the two butters probably come in. I'm going to give it a try this coming weekend.

          By the way, I found a variation of the recipe online at this link:

          It seems to make a larger quantity.

    2. Can’t recall the name of the blog, or blogger, but I remember running across someone who was publishing her German Oma’s recipes and how she finally discovered that Arak was the secret ingredient in a number of her baked goods. Wonder if the recipes from that blog have now been published in the book you saw.

      1. just curious, does it have a German name as well? is it 'Butterplätzchen'?

        1. There is arak which is anise flavored spirit, and arrack (such as Batavia Arrack) which is a kind of spirit, sometimes called a rum, made from sugarcane and rice or coconut. I think it is actually the Batavia arrack since other recipes of this type call for rum or arrack. You can substitute any good, slightly funky, aged rum for Batavia Arrack.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JMF

            Had never heard of arrack before reading this thread. But thumbing through the spirits list at a bar tonight, spotted it. Didn't order it, but it was listed with the rum and cachaca section.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Arrack is used in a lot of old cocktail recipes and cocktails from the 18th & 19th century. Its funky rum flavor marries well with citrus oils.

          2. Mr P, from India, describes arrack (various spellings) as rotgut from "anything that would rot." One man's opinion!

            2 Replies
            1. re: pine time

              Let's clear the air about Arrack

              Arrack, like any other spirit, is often distilled illicitly, but that does not relegate the drink to rotgut status.

              Arrack is a category for one of the oldest spirits ever created. Shortly after the discovery of distillation, the process spread throughout Asia and the Middle East. Each country created their own spirit with indigenous foods and used a phonetically similar name/spelling to Arrack.

              There are many variations, but typically 3 are the most widely known.
              - Arak: flavored with aniseed (think licorice taste) and produced in the Middle East
              - Batavia Arrack: produced in Indonesia with fermented red rice and sugar cane
              - Coconut Arrack: produced in Sri Lanka with fermented flower nectar
              - Palm Arrack: produced in many countries such as the Philippines and (illicit) in India.

              For cooking, you have a couple of options:
              1 - there are arrack flavorings available, I've seen them advertised on Amazon, but unsure of their alcohol content
              2 - Batavia Arrack Van Oosten (this has a pungent smell and flavor, but can be mixed)
              3 - White Lion VSOA (aged coconut arrack - similar to a cross between rum and whiskey)
              4 - Vuqo (palm arrack base, but made like Vodka)

              Arracks are often used for making deserts and "punsches" (cocktails) by the Nordic countries as well.