Oma’s Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies

These cookies, “Vanillen Kränzchen” – vanilla wreaths – were a must for Christmas as far back as I can remember.

Oma would prepare cookies sometimes weeks in advance.

Here is the recipes in Oma’s handwriting from a little slip of paper in her cook book.


Here is the translation:

Vanilla Wreaths

2 sticks sweet butter and 2 tablespoons of salted [butter]

1 1/4 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

1 pound – 4 cups flour some vanilla [extract] or one grated lemon peel [zest]

Some notes: The spelling of “Gränzchen” is not an error but dialect – the dialect of the Donauschwaben pronounces most hard consonant in a much softer manner – so the “K” is pronounced more like a “G” in some words. Oma is using the word “cup” – she is trying to help the younger generation, when she baked in “olden” days she would weigh the ingredients – if she measured at all. You can see this also when she gets to vanilla.

Christmas Cookies - paintingTwo cookies were stuck together with marmalade to make the most beloved version. For this apricot jam is my favorite.

Oma baked a variety of cookies, but the favorite has always been the this one.

You can see the Vanille Kränzchen on the top of the pile in the cookies painting from my school days in Sinsheim (yes, back in 1949).

I have tested the recipe until the cookies tasted like I remember. Here is my current version:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (= 1/4 pound = 113 g)
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter (15 g)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (about 150 mL)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups flour (about 47o mL)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (about 5 mL)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon peel (zest) (about 3 mL)

Cream butter. Add sugar, vanilla extract, lemon peel, yolks, combine. Add flour and combine well. Refrigerate dough to stiffen.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).

Roll on floured sheet to about one quarter inch thickness. Use cookie cutter to cut shapes and place on floured baking sheet. The classic shape is circular with a hole (see drawing).

Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies should be just golden brown.

The classic version combines two cookies by filling with apricot jam, cherry jam, or orange marmalade.

I sometimes decorate the cookies before baking by brushing with egg wash (some egg white and water) and sprinkling with chopped walnuts or course (“decorator’s”) sugar.HappyHolidays[6]

Why the hole in the cookie?

Back in Schowe these cookies were also used as decorations on the Christmas tree. A string would be used to make a loop to hang them on the tree along with home-made candy, fancily wrapped. This memory I have recreated in the “Holiday Greetings” image.

The Christmas cookies a best enjoyed by inviting the whole family.

I just wish I could that.

Here is the best I can do:

Christmas Cookies


8 comments on “QP1

  1. Jody Pharr says:

    Yum Ludwig, these looks so good! When are we getting together? 😉



  2. Jane Moore says:

    I’ll be baking a new cookie this Christmas – thank you!



  3. Thank you for directing us here. Wonderful site, Ludwig. You are such a talented DS!

    Rose Mary


  4. Katharine, from sunny Delta says:

    This brings back memories that I nearly forgot. At 7, 8 years old I recall wrapping nuts to hang on the tree, as well as cookies with the hole in it and potato candy that a neighbor made.
    Thanks for the Christmas reminder. Frohe Weinachten!


  5. Gerlinde Brandtner says:

    Dear Ludwig, greetings from Fellbach, germany, with many thanks for keeping alife old schowe-traditions. For the pleasure of my whole familiy I also bake these traditional cookies every year, since my mother ( now 91 years old) ist too tired for baking. Here is another information about the hole: many people use the dough of the hole, top them with a mixture of sugar, harvested protein and some drops of lemon juice, bake them about 10 min.. and glue 2 of these with apricot jam together These cookies were named: “Non plus ultra” feel yourself embraced Gerlinde


    • Ludwig says:

      I also bake the “holes” along with the cookies. Apricot jam is my favorite. This year I tried orange marmalade – reviews were mixed, apricot jam is still the one! I did not know they were called “non plus ultra” – Thanks!


  6. 1stAngel says:

    im going to have to try this !


  7. I am always so grateful to find this page – especially around Christmas time! Thank you for sharing it!! Froehe Weinachten!!


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