This is my all-time favorite German cookie recipe. In Germany, these cookies are known as “Ausstecherle". Usually made at Christmas time, the dough is flexible enough to be used throughout the year, so why limit this delicious treat to just a few weeks out of the year?
At any household supply store or Christmas market, you can buy cookie cutters made of metal or plastic. Available in shapes such as stars, boots, Santa Claus and others, one can cut out figures from the dough. Look for seasonal figures such as rabbits, eggs for Easter, hearts for Valentine day or witches around Halloween and you have in this cookies a great homemade gift idea for holidays all throughout the year.
This is the recipe for the dough, given to me by no less of an authority on cookies than my mother in law:
500 grams flour
250 grams butter or margarine
250 grams sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp rum
one package of vanilla sugar
(if unavailable, use vanilla extract and add slightly more sugar to the dough)
for the decoration:
2 egg yolks, whisked until foamy colored sugar sprinkles or finely chopped almonds cookie cutters in the shapes of your choice
1. To make the dough:
Bring the butter or margarine to room temperature to soften it. Cut the butter or margarine into small pieces and place into a mixing bowl. Beat until it is creamy. Add half of the sugar and continue beating. Add the rest of the sugar, eggs, vanilla sugar and rum. Continue beating. Add the flour a little at a time while stirring until a firm dough is formed. Once the dough becomes too firm for the mixer to handle, knead the dough by hand.
2. Directions for the figures (Ausstecherle):
Using rolling pin, roll out the dough to about a half centimeters (a fifth of an inch) thickness. Be sure to flour the surface you'll be working so that the dough doesn't stick.
3. Grease a cookie sheet, you'll be using it very shortly now. Take a cookie cutter and cut out a figure. Place the cookie onto the baking tin. To prevent the cookies from sticking in the cutter, set a little flour aside in a dish and dip the cutter in flour in between cutting each cookie.
4. To decorate and bake:
Whisk two egg yolks, then brush the figures (Ausstecherle) with them. Decorate the Ausstecherle with coloured sugar sprinkles or finely chopped almonds. Bake the Ausstecherle for about 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 175°C (350 F) on the middle rack.
This recipe makes enough dough for two or three baking tins (50 to 70 pieces), depending on size of your cookie cutters. The dough can be rekneaded and rolled out again until it's all used up.
They taste their best fresh from the oven! Enjoy this taste any time of the year!
Gabriela Rupp is a successful internet marketer and publisher of Best German Gifts Guide . She is born in Germany, lives there for more than 4 decades and provides expert advice and reviews of all the major german brands and hidden gems from Germany. More valuable information on german cookies you find at German Cookies Review