Help me find a nutty, German dessert to bake!
December 20, 2013 7:46 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite nutty German desserts that are not terribly sweet? Please share your tried and true recipes!

My stepdad grew up in Stuttgart, Germany as an army brat, and he likes "nutty, German desserts that aren't very sweet." He's diabetic, though with some insulin moderation he can eat desserts. I'd like to make him something this holiday. I'm a very experienced baker, but my parents' kitchen doesn't have a stand mixer. We have a food processor and most other baking things. Thank you!
posted by Viola to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Forgot to add, I am aware of German chocolate cake, but would like a specific recipe you've tried and love, as I've never made it.
posted by Viola at 7:49 AM on December 20, 2013

My Oma's Nusskuchen:

6 Large Eggs
1 C Ground Walnuts OR Almonds
1 C Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Salt
3 Tbsp Oatmeal
1 Tsp Vanilla OR Almond Extract (Use vanilla if ground walnuts are used, almond if ground almonds)
(Use at your own discretion, but even a proud mostly-carnivore like myself agrees that it needs fruit)
Fresh Blue Fruit
Fresh Black Fruit
Fresh Red Fruit
1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream
Enough Powdered Sugar (maybe a few Tbsp? Not terribly much, but enough to help the cream stand a bit better)
Blender-ize or puree the walnuts/almonds in a food processor.
Separate two eggs, beat their whites 'til stiff.
Take the two yolks, and add your remaining four eggs.... thennnnnn all the other cake ingredients. (except the whites).

Done? Awesome.

Now fold in the whites, relatively gently. You're not going for a homogeneous mixture here though I prefer the chunks of white to be smaller than the diameter of a dime.

Bake the cake in two equisized pans for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees F (you want the mixture to be about an inch to inch and a half thick, and you'll want two of them as it's a double layered cake.)

Take the 1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream, and... well... whip the hell out of it. Take a hand-mixer and spend five minutes whipping. Or a stand mixer (if you've one) and just let it ride for five minutes on a high setting. (Make sure there's a shield around it, a towel or something, otherwise you may make a mess. As the cream stiffens, add powdered sugar and keep whippin' for a few minutes 'til it's mixed. (Don't let it supersaturate)

Clean up while waiting (As some Wise Guys once sang... "Dann auf der mittleren Schiene 'ne [Volle]stunde backen, Zeit genug zum Spülen und um die Schüsseln wegzupacken", or "when you bake, you have time to clean!")).

When your timer goes off, the cake should be done, take it outta' the oven, frost it with your newly made frosting, and garnish with blue and red fruits.

Taste, enjoy.
posted by Seeba at 8:10 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

::hand-face:: Oops. No stand mixer. Skip that part, just use a whisk.
posted by Seeba at 8:13 AM on December 20, 2013

To top any cake you choose, how about a great frosting?

I have used this recipe for German buttercream frosting before, and it is delicious. It doesn't have that WHAM POW cloying sweetness that other buttercreams have, and is a lot more sedate. It tastes a lot like a very rich ice cream.

A word of warning, though, it's a pretty melty frosting, not very robust. It's a great frosting frosting but it doesn't pipe well.
posted by phunniemee at 8:21 AM on December 20, 2013

Just for the record, since you mentioned it—German chocolate cake doesn't come from Germany. It was named for the American baker Sam German who worked for the Baker's Chocolate Company. So you probably don't want to make that.
posted by bcwinters at 8:35 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I think nutty and German sweets, I think marzipan because I love things like Ritter Sport dark chocolate with marzipan.
The marzipan train lead me to stollen, a German "fruitcake"/bread that itself is not necessarily too sweet. In addition to dried fruit, it can have nuts or marzipan. Bonus, in case it matters: traditionally enjoyed at Christmas-time. If you wanted to get really specific, there might be a particular type of stollen that is associated with the Stuttgart area -- not sure.
(I should add that I am not much of a baker myself and have not determined whether or not making stollen requires a stand mixer.)
posted by mean square error at 9:57 AM on December 20, 2013

Nussecken? They're like nut bars, but cut into triangles, hence the name.
posted by amf at 11:03 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

My vote is for Mandelstollen, a very rich and dense almond-filled slightly sweet yeast bread. Here's the loosely translated recipe from my beloved copy of the "Backvergnügen wie noch nie" (trans: "baking enjoyment like never before!") cookbook.

1 kilo flour
80 grams cake yeast
1/4 liter lukewarm milk
350 grams butter
1/2 tsp. salt
150 grams sugar
1 tsp vanilla (actually 1 packet vanilla sugar, but I substitute)
250 grams blanched chopped almonds
250 grams candied citron (I sometimes just use a little grated lemon peel)
powdered sugar
optional: marzipan

In a small bowl, crumble the yeast and add a little each of the sugar and flour and all the milk. Leave the yeast mixture to bloom for 20 minutes, then add the rest of the sugar, the eggs, vanilla, citron and salt and stir. Put the remaining flour in a big bowl, make a depression in the middle and pour in the liquid mixture, mixing together well. This gets very stiff, I recommend using your hands from this point forward. Leave to rise for 40 minutes. Knead the butter into the yeast dough and let rise another 30 minutes. Mix in the almonds, and form two long loaves. Typically this is done by flattening the dough and then folding one half over the other about 2/3 of the way, so it has a kind of flattened heart shape in cross section. If you really want to go all out, you could put marzipan in the middle at this point. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and let rise on a parchment covered baking sheet for another half hour. Bake for an hour. While still warm, brush with butter and cover liberally with powdered sugar.
posted by cali at 7:16 PM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

This is my grandmother's recipe. She was Austrian, but maybe it is also German? Anyway, it is nutty and not that sweet, especially for a cookie. It is a bit fiddly though.


½ C. unsalted butter
1 C. Sifted confec. Sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ lb. (2 C.) pecans or walnuts, finely ground (the 1/2 lb is reground, should yield 2 cups)
About 2 ¼ C. sifted flour (as much as 2 ¾ c. may be needed)
Vanilla sugar for coating cookies (confectioner’s sugar with vanilla beans in it).

Makes about 110-120 small cookies.

Cook at 350.

Cream butter and add cong. Sugar a little at a time. Add vanilla. Add flour alternately with ground nuts. Beat well after each addition. Mold pieces of dough into long roll, slice. Form each slice into a crescent shape.

Bake on very lightly greased tin for about 10 min. until golden brown. Watch them, since they will burn easily (Gramma’s note). When crescents are still slightly warm, roll them in vanilla sugar (if you had the foresight to put vanilla beans in your powdered sugar about a month ago). Otherwise, plain powdered sugar will do.

Done right, these are an awesome, not too sweet, melt in your mouth shortbread. They also work with almonds and hazelnuts.
posted by eleanna at 11:05 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Nutty German dessert" immediately made me think of cookies:

- zimtsterne (cinnamon stars): made with ground almonds (no flour)
- pfeffernusse (pepper nuts): spicy cookies with finely ground nuts
- linzer cookies: almond-flavored sandwich cookies with jam

Disclaimer: I haven't tried these recipes and am not sure how sweet they are. I'm leaning toward "not very" for the pfeffernusse, at least.

The zimtsterne recipe calls for beating egg whites to stiff peaks, so that might not work. The other recipes involve creaming butter with sugar but I think that can be done with a food processor (or with a bowl, a spoon, and some elbow grease).
posted by junques at 3:31 AM on December 21, 2013

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