Hanseaten? It’s a German Christmas Cookie!

December 17th, 2012 by Desiree Smith

Some families make common cookies like chocolate chip, but my family’s coveted cookie, the Hanseaten, is a name known by few!

This special cookie immigrated from Lübeck, Germany near the Baltic Sea to the United States with my father-in-law and family in the 1950’s. The half red, half white sandwich-style cookie represents the colors of the Hanseatic League that was formed around 1240 to protect Northern Germany sea ports. If you travel to Lübeck, Hamburg or Bremen, Germany you will find this cookie in bakeries all year round but we like to keep it special to Christmas.

When my new mother-in-law found out I worked for Wilton, she was excited and hoped I could take over the Hanseaten cookie baking. Keeping the red icing from running into the white was a challenge for her. I explained how easy it is if you outline and flood half the cookie with icing and let it dry thoroughly before adding the second colored icing to the other side. She still said I could make the family cookies from now on. I have been happy to oblige.

Hanseaten Cookies

While I took creative liberty by adding holly leaves and little berries to my Christmas version, I am a stickler for recipes. I contacted Cousin Ursula in Lübeck for the family recipe. She sent the rezept (recipe) in German which required translation. Thankfully I was able to figure some of it out and my father-in-law helped me knowing he would be compensated in his favorite cookies!

There are a few other secrets in making this cookie really special. Make sure you roll the dough thin, about 1/8 inches thick. Slightly overbaking the bottom cookie pairing it with a chewier top gives the cookie a nice texture. You may use any filling inside the cookie, but strawberry preserves are traditional for the Mueller family. My sister-in-law adds strawberry juice to the red cookie icing as flavoring and my husband says a little almond is tasty. Sounds good huh?

No matter where your family hails from, you are going to love this German cookie! We could treat ourselves to it all year long, but as I said we keep it special for Christmas. It’s a mouth-watering tradition our family and friends look forward to every Christmas, even if some of them can’t remember the name or how to pronounce it.

Does your family have a special holiday treat? I’d love to hear about it.

Hanseaten Cookies

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Wilton Pure Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
Wilton Red and White Cookie Icing
Wilton Green and Red Tube Icing

Mixing bowls
Electric mixer
Parchment paper
3 in. round cutter
Cooling grid
Decorating Tip 349
Decorating Tip 3

In medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and extracts; mix well. Add flour mixture; beat only until incorporated. Form dough into 2 disks, about 1 in. thick; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

On floured surface, roll out dough 1/8 in thick (keep remaining dough in refrigerator until ready to roll). Cut with 3 in. round cutter; place on prepared sheet. Form scraps into a disk; chill at least 30 minutes and re-roll.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove to cooling grid; cool completely. Spread the bottom of half the cookies with about 1 teaspoon jam. Top with remaining cookies; gently press together.

To decorate, outline with red Cookie Icing, then flood in half of the cookie; allow to set. Use white Cooking Icing to outline and flood remaining half of the cookie. Set completely. Pipe 2 tip 349 holly leaves with green icing; add red tip 3 berries.

Makes about 2 dozen sandwich cookies.

Desiree Smith Desiree is the Public Relations Manager at Wilton. She spends her days monitoring media opportunities, working with newspaper, magazine and television contacts, collaborating with bloggers and handling a variety of other odds and ends. Desiree has a degree in journalism and experience writing for newspapers and television. Outside of Wilton, she enjoys running and planning outings with friends.

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