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German Chocolate, Sweets and Cakes


German chocolate, sweets and cakes are known all over the world, not only for their quality but also because of their uniqueness. Popular Christmas specialties such as Stollen (yeast fruit bread), Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Marzipan and Advent Calendars are exported all over the world and the world-famous “gummi bear” is, of course, a German invention. Here are some of Germany’s most popular and well-known confectionery products. My personal favourite is Bienenstich Cake (Bee Sting Cake):

Gummibären (Gummi Bears)
The Gummi Bear was invented in 1922 in the Kessenic area of Bonn, in the kitchen of confectioner Hans Riegel, owner of the company Haribo. The fruit-flavored gelatine dancing bear became more and more popular throughout the years and they are now exported all over the world, including the US, where they first made an appearance in 1982. Gumi bears are produced in 5 different colors which are white, green, yellow, orange and red and the corresponding flavors are pineapple, strawberry, lemon, orange and raspberry.

Marzipan
Marzipan is a popular confectionery item in Germany, that is made of ground almonds and sugar. It has a long history in Germany, dating back to the 16th century when it made its way from the Middle East, via Venice, to the tables of Germany’s nobility. Up until the 18th century, marzipan was used for medicinal purposes until becoming a delicacy for the rich in the early 19th century. It wasn’t until the 1950’s, however, that marzipan became a more every day confectionery item and now you will find marzipan being eaten both on special occasions such as Easter and Christmas, but also during the rest of the year. Marzipan comes in all shapes and sizes, both in plain, for use in cooking or in the form of animals such as the “Good Luck Pig” (Glücksschwein) and also covered in chocolate in the shape of loaves, balls and bars.

Mozartkugeln
A Mozartkugel  or “Mozart Ball” is a ball-shaped, chocolate-coated confectionery, with a pistachio- and almond-marzipan center and an outer layer of nougat coated with bittersweet chocolate. It was invented in 1890 in Salzburg by a confectioner called Paul Fürst, who named it after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was born in that city. The original name was Mozartbonbon which was later changed to Mozartkugel. Unfortunately, Paul Fürst did not think to protect the name “Mozartkugel” which means that it left other companies open to legally copying his product and using the name “Mozartkugel”. After several legal proceedings the courts decided that only Fürst’s company may use the name “Original Salzburger Mozartkugeln.” Other producers of the Mozartkugel may use names such as“Echte Salzburger Mozartkugeln” (Genuine Salzburg Mozartkugel) which is used by the Austrian company Mirabell and “Echte Reber-Mozartkugeln” (Genuine Reber Mozartkugeln) which have been made by the German company Reber in Bad Reichenhall since 1938. Reber exports its Mozartkugeln to 40 different countries and makes over 500,000 of them per day!

Krapfen or Berliner (Doughnut)
Known as Pfannkuchen in Berlin, Kreppel in Hessen, Krapfen in Southern Germany and Berliner just about everywhere else, the jelly-filled donut is a very popular part of Germany’s carnival season. The Berliner was the cause of much unintended laughter when John F. Kennedy famously declared “Ich bin ein Berliner” during his visit to Berlin in 1963. While his comment was meant to express his solidarity with the people of Berlin during the Cold War, his comment could, and was, translated as  “I am a jelly donut.” During the carnival season, which is known as  Fasching, Karneval  or Fastnacht depending on the region, you’ll find bakeries on every street corner with their counters piled high with various types of donuts, most filled with jam but also with vanilla cream and chocolate.

Lebkuchen

 Lebkuchen is a richly-spiced gingerbread  made with honey, flour, sugar, eggs, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, candied orange and lemon peel, marzipan, and  spices (cinnamon, ginger, aniseed, cloves, pimento, coriander, cardamom).
Although gingerbread has been baked in Europe for centuries, of all the European countries, Germany is the one with the longest and strongest tradition of baking flat, shaped gingerbreads known as Lebkuchen.
Lebkuchen were first baked in the city of Nuremberg in 1395, which is where we know the first Lebkuchen bakery existed.  In 1643 Nuremburg created a Lebkuchen Baker's Guild, which began with 14 master gingerbread bakers who were required to make the gingerbread following strict guidelines.
Up until 1867, Lebkuchen was made by hand. Today most Lebkuchen is made by machine, however, many of Nuremburg's bakeries still produce some of their Lebkuchen specialties by hand. Today around 2,000 Lebkuchen per minute are produced in Nuremburg by approximately 4,000 employees. Some are made by major companies and some by family-run bakeries, but all use traditional recipes passed down from generation to generation. The oldest gingerbread recipe from the 16th century is housed in the Germanic National Museum.

Stollen
Stollen is a rich, sweet, yeast bread filled with dried fruit and nuts and often marzipan and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Germany’s answer to “fruitcake”, Stollen has been made in Germany since 1329. The most famous kind of Stollen, which can be found at most local supermarkets, is called Dresdner Christstollen, originating in Dresden, Germany. The Stollen is shaped with tapered ends and a ridge down the center which is said to represent the Baby Jesus in swaddling clothes.

Bienenstich Cake (Bee Sting Cake)
This is a sheet cake made with a Hefeteig (sweet yeast dough) filled with vanilla custard and glazed with a honey mixture and sprinkled with almonds. It gets its name “Bienenstich” (Bee Sting) from the honey glaze.

 

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