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The smell of pine trees, thousands of lights, magic Xmas vibe and liters of mulled wine Glühwein drunk… Weihnachtsmarkt is something you can’t miss! Delicious aroma of chocolate and gingerbread encourage us to visit each and every stroll and taste all the German Christmas food. What else should you try apart from legendary mulled wine? Enjoy our ultimate guide to the German Xmas sweets!
GERMAN CHRISTMAS FOOD
Christmas is a time to spoil and pamper your inner child. Could there be anything better than your beloved treat on a winter evening? Of course not! Here we are – you just have to try these goodies! If you are curious how the Weihnachtsmarkt looks like in Bavaria, read this post.
My beloved German Christmas food… Nothing compares to it! Typically, Elisenlebkuchen takes the form of relatively large (up to 12 cm in diameter) round gingerbread, on the one side covered with white plain waffle, on the other – with sugar icing or chocolate. It is the symbol of Nuremberg. Real Elisenlebkuchen contains min. 25% of almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts and a max. 10% of wheat flour… often doesn’t contain it at all! Tasting them is a really unique experience – they are heavy and have a strong aroma of nuts – completely different than gingerbread popular across the world, which is made of flour mostly. The scent of chocolate mixes with the smell of honey, roasted almonds, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves … If you are on a diet and can only try one of these Weihnachtsmarkt delights, pick this!
If you are mad for French macaroons, here is something for you. These charming cinnamon stars are made of sugar, almonds, and amaretto… a little bit of icing on top and you’re ready to munch!
Another must-try for fans of almond delights. This time grounded almonds were shaped in small potatoes (Kartoffeln), perfect for one bite… Michal’s favorite treat!
It’s a little similar to Polish cake keks – a sweet bread with nuts and dried fruit inside. However, Stollen is less sweet, and the whole sweetness comes mainly from powdered sugar on the outside. A piece of marzipan in the middle is optional, but there is one mandatory thing – the dough must have the shape of baby Jesus (wrapped in few layers of baby clothes…). The average “loaf” weighs up to 1.5 kg! That’s a lot of German Christmas food!
Now let me present boring historical stuff. As this is common knowledge (yeah, well…), Advent is the time of fasting. That is why during the Advent season confectioners in medieval Saxon were forbidden to use the luxurious butter for Stollen baking – they had to replace it with oil made of turnips and in result the whole cake simply sucked. The two Saxon princes, Ernst and Albrecht, big fans of Stollen, sent a letter to Pope Nicholas V, asking for a dispensation to use butter… The request was rejected. Five popes later, in 1490, Pope Innocent VIII at last agreed. “Butter Letter” allowed the princes and their families to use butter. The ordinary confectioners also could use it, but after paying the appropriate sum for the Catholic church… Maybe it was one of the reasons why Saxony soon became protestant?
Polish king August II the Strong, who loved pomp, splendor and apparently also his subjects – in 1730 he ordered from Dresden bakeries an enormous Stollen weighing 1.7 tons, so everyone could get a piece. The tradition of baking giant Stollen survived till now and everyone visiting Dresden can nibble a bite of 3-4 tons cake on Saturday during the second weekend of Advent. Dresden is also the oldest documented Christmas market Striezelmarkt in Germany – first was held in 1434!
You should also try chocolate covered fruit on the stick – fresh strawberries, bananas, pineapple, whole apples. If you are curious how the childhood of an average Polish kid tasted like, you have to try “warm ice cream”! This sticky, melted marshmallow-like goodie is served on a waffle and covered in chocolate and was extremely popular also in Poland when I was a kid. If you want to taste other almond delights, you should look for various small “loaves”of marzipan – with chocolate or nuts. Just spoil yourself with delights from Weihnachtsmarkt!
Can you recommend other German Christmas food you love?
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