Whenever my Mother-in-Law makes her Spritzgebäck for Christmas (which is every year), she always makes these German hazelnut macaroons. Not only are they delicious and light, but they also use up the leftover egg whites and the hazelnuts from our garden. Today we’re sharing her recipe for these traditional German Christmas cookies.
What are macaroons?
Macaroons – as opposed to macarons – are small cakes or cookies that are normally made from ground almonds, coconut or other nuts.
Both use egg whites as a base. Macarons use almond flour, come in different colours, are much smoother and are often joined together with a flavored filling. We are still practicing our macarons and hope to share our recipe and tips soon.
Macaroons are much coarser and normally use ground almonds, shredded coconut or other ground nuts. These German hazelnut macaroons are my favourite, and my MIL uses hazelnuts from our garden. When there are not enough hazelnuts, my MIL also makes a similar recipe using ground almonds.
About this recipe for German hazelnut macaroons
I hesitate to call this one a family recipe, but in many ways it is.
The recipe comes from a book called “Handbuch für die Weihnachtsbäckerei” (Christmas bakery handbook) that was released by one of the local sugar companies – Pfeifer & Langen – as a promotional gift. I am not sure when it was produced, but I assume some time in the early 1980s, judging by the decor, the hand mixers, the prices (still in Deutsche Mark) and the reference to images (the most recent is from 1977).
If the recipe book was a promotional gift, why am I even considering calling it a family recipe?
Peter’s Mum’s maiden name is Langen. Part of the sugar company was actually founded and is still owned by cousins.
And with the love and patience that normally goes into shelling and grinding the hazelnuts for this recipe, how could I not call it a family recipe?
(To be honest: this time I used a packet of roasted and ground hazelnuts, but I also had a little helper. Still, even with Miss M insisting that she be allowed to sift the icing sugar by herself, these German hazelnut macaroons still took next to no time to make.)
Tips for the perfect German hazelnut macaroons
These German hazelnut macaroons are the perfect complement when you are baking Spritzgebäck, Terraces, vanille Kipferl or even black and white cookies. Like our pavlova recipe, macaroons use the egg whites that are left over.
In our case, these traditional German Christmas cookies also use the hazelnuts that grow in our garden.
What are Oblaten?
This recipe also uses Oblaten. Oblaten are a wafer, that is similar to edible paper and is often used for the “bread” in holy communion (Eucharist).
They help keep the (very!) sticky macaroon mixture together and stop them from drying out.
For this recipe, you need small Oblaten, not the large ones that are used for German Lebkuchen (gingerbread). You can find Oblaten here (you might also get some at a specialty store) or cut out your own out of edible paper (approx. 5cm or 1.5″ diameter).
If you can’t find any, bake these German hazelnut macaroons without them – just make sure you line the tray with baking paper. If you use Oblaten on baking paper, you will find that the biscuits slide around quite a bit, so be careful when putting the tray in the oven.
The easiest was to form the German hazelnut macaroons
Normally, you can spoon the macaroon mix onto the Oblate using two teaspoons. Sometimes it is too sticky (I think it depends on how fresh the ground hazelnuts are).
If it is sticky, dust your hands with powdered sugar and roll the mixture into small balls between your palms. Place each ball on a Oblate (or just one the tray) and push down slightly to flatten a little.
Normally, German hazelnut macaroons have a hazelnut pushed into the top of the biscuit (before baking). They don’t usually have the chocolate. If you are trying to cut down on Christmas excess, push a hazelnut into the top of each macaroon before they go into the oven.
Ilse, my exchange partner’s mother (also German) made hers with a small dollop of white chocolate on top to ‘glue’ a hazelnut in place. I prefer them this way, so that is what I suggest. It looks a little like snow to me. (And you will likely have some white chocolate left over if you make our black and white cookies).
Give your German hazelnut macaroons some more punch
If you like (and you don’t mind straying away from the traditional recipe), you can add a teaspoon of vanilla sugar or vanilla essence to the mixture.
Alternatively, they also taste great with a little more chocolate. Add one tablespoon of cocoa and sift it in with the icing sugar.
For not-so-traditional German Christmas cookies, add two teaspoons of instant coffee dissolved in two tablespoons of water. Add the cocoa with the icing sugar, then fold in the coffee after the hazelnuts. You may need to add a little more icing sugar if the mixture is too runny.
Traditional German hazelnut macaroons
- 3 egg whites
- 250 g powdered sugar sifted
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 250 g finely ground hazelnuts
- Oblaten (optional)
- 50 g white chocolate melted
- whole hazelnuts
- Preheat the oven to 145°c. Line a tray with baking paper or grease it and dust it with flour. Place the Oblaten (if using) on the tray, spaced out nicely. A standard size tray should fit 20.
- Beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. Add the powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time, mixing between additions. Add the lemon juice and mix until well combined.
- Carefully fold the hazelnuts into the egg whites, taking care not to overmix.
- Use two teaspoons to spoon a nice teaspoon of the macroon mixture onto each Oblate.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Place a small dollup of the melted white chocolate in the middle of the cooled biscuits and top with a hazelnut.
Make some German hazelnut macaroons this Christmas!
These easy German hazelnut macaroons are so light and delicious and very easy to make. They’re also the best way to use the egg whites that you’ll have leftover after making some of our other traditional German Christmas cookies!