German Cookies (Plätzchen)
Cookies are loved throughout Germany, especially during the Christmas holiday. Cookies really began to gain popularity in Germany in the 1700's as an accompaniment to coffee and tea. They were, however, only a luxury the wealthy could afford due to the high price of sugar and other ingredients such as almonds and cocoa. This changed by the late 1800's when a less expensive sugar, derived from sugar beets, was made available. This allowed the less fortunate to bake cookies for special occasions.
The following types of cookies are very popular in German baking.
Cookies made with a short dough (Mürbeteig)
These are cookies that are made with a relatively firm dough, that can be rolled out, then cut with shaped cookies cutters. These cookies are often in the shape of stars, Santa Claus figures, bells, etc.
Cookies made with a designed cookie mold
These are cookies made with a cookie mold that imparts a unique picture imprint onto the dough. Examples include Springerle and Speculatius.
Cookies shaped by hand
These are cookies that are formed by hand into rolls. This includes cookies such as Vanillekipferl and Bethmännchen.
Cookies cut into slices
These are cookies that are formed by cutting refrigerated logs of dough into slices.
Cookies shaped through piping
These are cookies in which the dough has been pushed through a piping bag or special cookie press. This includes cookies such as Spritzgebäck.