Ultimate Christmas Cookie Platter

Classic Baking

For Luisa Weiss, the blogger behind The Wednesday Chef and author of My Berlin Kitchen, creating the perfect German cookie platter requires a careful balance of textures and flavors.

By Luisa Weiss
Food Photos by Nicole Franzen Food Styling by Vivian Lui Style editing by Suzie Myers
Above Image | Hausfreunde

AS AN Italian-American, I may seem an unlikely author of a book on classic German baking. But I was born and partially raised in Berlin, and I returned to live there again five years ago. I married into a German family and now have a small half-German child of my very own. So not only do my most vivid childhood memories involve German cookies and cakes, but I also know that my son will one day have these memories.

This Christmas, the first one that my three-year-old will conceivably recall, I'm particularly excited about putting together my trademark bunter teller, or "colorful plate"—a cookie platter offered to family and friends when they come over for cups of hot tea by candlelight in the dark winter months. Assembling a bunter teller is a kind of art form, with a really good one offering a wide variety of flavors and textures in careful balance.

I've always been a sucker for chewy gingerbread cookies, but including too many spiced confections throws the bunter teller off-kilter. It turns out, though, that German Christmas treats are way more diverse than I ever thought. After spending more than a year researching and testing dozens of cookie recipes for my forthcoming cookbook, Classic German Baking, I feel ready to create the best bunter teller of my life. So this year I'll be making rich and toasty hazelnut macaroons filled with tart raspberry jam; the buttery chocolate-and-marzipan-topped shortbread cookies called hausfreunde; and—my perennial favorite—chewy basler leckerli, a Swiss spiced bar thinly glazed with a glassy sugar syrup. Because my heart belongs to tradition.


Active | 50 min Total | 3 hr Makes | 2 dozen sandwich cookies

These gorgeous chocolate-dipped almond-apricot sandwich cookies are somewhat labor-intensive but well worth the effort.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • About ½ cup apricot jam
  • 7 oz. almond paste
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 24 walnut halves, toasted

  • In a food processor, pulse the flour with the granulated sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces remaining. Add the egg and vanilla and pulse until the dough just comes together. Scrape out onto a work surface and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough ¼ inch thick. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out cookies as close together as possible; transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Gather the scraps, reroll and stamp out more cookies. You should have a total of 48.
  • Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, until golden; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer to a rack to cool.
  • In a small saucepan, warm the jam over moderate heat, stirring, until runny, about 3 minutes. Brush a thin layer of jam on 24 of the cookies and top with the remaining cookies.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the almond paste with the confectioners’ sugar and knead until blended. Roll out the almond paste 1/8 inch thick between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out 24 rounds. Brush the top of each cookie sandwich with another thin layer of jam and top with the rounds of almond paste.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second bursts until just melted. Stir until smooth. Dip the top of each sandwich cookie in the chocolate, just enough to coat the almond paste; transfer to the baking sheet. Top each cookie with a walnut half. Let the chocolate set before serving.

MAKE AHEAD The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container between wax paper for up to 5 days.

Basler Leckerli

Active | 1 hr Total | 1 hr 30 min Makes | 4 dozen bars

These classic bars from Weiss’s book My Berlin Kitchen are great make-ahead cookies; in fact, they get more tender and flavorful the longer they sit.

  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped candied orange peel
  • ¼ cup finely chopped candied citron peel
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 1½ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

  • In a small saucepan, combine the honey with the granulated sugar and salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the honey and sugar are melted and beginning to simmer, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl and let cool slightly, about 20 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350° and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder. Using a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon, stir the egg into the honey mixture. Stir in the almonds, candied orange and citron peels, orange and lemon zests, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, then stir in the sifted flour.
  • Scrape the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and, with floured hands, press into a 12-by-9-inch rectangle, about ¼ inch thick. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until golden and puffy.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the confectioners’ sugar with 2 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Boil the syrup until it begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Keep warm.
  • As soon as the leckerli is done, brush the surface with the hot glaze. While it’s still hot, carefully slide the parchment onto a work surface. Using a sharp knife, trim the edges of the rectangle and cut the leckerli into 2-by-1-inch bars. Let cool before serving.

MAKE AHEAD The bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container with half of an apple for up to 2 months. Swap out the apple once a week.


Active | 45 min Total | 1 hr Makes | about 30 cookies

These no-fuss raspberry-hazelnut macaroons from Weiss’s upcoming cookbook, Classic German Baking, are some of her favorite cookies for Christmas. “No complicated doughs that need to ripen for weeks, no rolling or cutting,” she says. “You just throw the dough together, heat up some jam and you’re almost there.”

  • 1½ cups whole hazelnuts
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup raspberry jam

  • Preheat the oven to 400° and line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast until the skins split and the nuts are fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel and rub together to release the skins. Let the hazelnuts cool completely.
  • In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts until finely chopped. In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium speed until foamy, 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted, 5 to 7 minutes. Fold in the hazelnuts.
  • Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or a soup spoon, scoop 11/2-inch rounds of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies for 11 to 13 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Remove the cookies from the oven and, while they’re still hot, carefully make an indentation in the center of each with the back of a teaspoon.
  • In a small saucepan, boil the raspberry jam for 30 seconds, until slightly thickened. Carefully spoon about 1 teaspoon of the hot jam into the center of each cookie. Let the jam set and the cookies cool completely before serving.

MAKE AHEAD The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container between wax paper for up to 4 days.