Sunday, December 26, 2010

Aachener Printen & Christmas Market

Aachen, Germany is known for Printen cookies. This lovely city also has a beautiful Christmas market every year sprawled around the town hall and well worth visiting.

Giant Printen cookies guard the entryway to the Christmas market. 

Even more closely guarded are Printen recipes by companies that have been making them for generations. My MIL who is from Aachen loves Printen. Most times when we are there we pick up her favorite variety.
The windows of the Printen shops this time of year are spectacular.

I love visiting Aachen in general. It's a beautiful city, founded by Charlemagne and there are many interesting sites to see. 

The Dom is a UNESCO world Heritage Site with breathtaking stained glass windows. Every German king in history has been crowned in this Church and you can see throne upstairs. My husband admitted to once sneaking a sit on this surprisingly plain marble chair. He went to University and medical school in Aachen and because his mom's side of the family is from there, I guess he thought he was entitled. 

A side note: This museum in Aachen use to be a private home where my husband's grandmother Cecilia was employed as the cook for a Jewish family. She kept a kosher kitchen. Needless to say, that didn't end well for anyone involved.

The first Jewish service in Germany after WWII was performed in Aachen by a US army chaplain.

Today Aachen is one of the friendliest cities in Germany. It's also fairly cosmopolitan being so close to other countries. When sitting in a cafe it's common to hear German, Dutch, French and English spoken around you.

It's a city that doles out two prizes every year. One is the globally prestigious Charlemagne Medal awarded to an individual for achievement on behalf of the EU for community, humanity and peace. Past recipients include Václav Havel, Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II. 

The other is an award called the "Order Against a Brutish Lack of Humor" to a public figure who does their job well while, well... being jolly. 

Gotta love friendly, smart people who don't take themselves too seriously. It's an easy place to love. Ok onto the Printen.

Adapted from


2 cups  beet syrup*
3 tablespoons water
1+1/2 teaspoons potash**
1 tablespoon dark spiced rum
2/3 cup rock candy sugar smashed into small pieces
1/2 cup white granulated sugar1/3 cup candied orange peel
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon clove powder
1 teaspoon anise powder
2+3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup syrup and 1/2 water mixed together for brushing the cookies
Chocolate, buts, sprinkles, jellies for dipping (optional)

* You can substitute dark corn syrup

** You can substitute baking soda


  • Whisk water into beet syrup and water in saucepan over medium heat. Set aside and cool slightly.
  • Dissolve potash into the spiced rum.
  • In a large bowl combine all ingredients on the list above up until the flour.  Mix until just combined.
  • Knead in the flour.

  • Wrap in plastic and leave in a cool, dry place for 2 days.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Turn out the dough out a lightly fours surface. Lightly flour a rolling pin as well and roll out.  Cut out shapes using a rectangular shaped cutter.

  • Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Let cool one minute after removing from oven and move to wire racks to finish cooling.
  • When printen has cooled , brush with sugar water mixture.

  • Leave the printed on the rack until the syrup water coating has dried completely.

You can serve these as is or decorate them further.

I melted white, milk and dark chocolates, dipped half the cookie in and then rolled them in chopped almonds, sprinkles and chopped fruit gelees.

Printen are a hard cookie. To keep them soft enough for eating, pack them in a tin and put a small piece of bread inside. This will keep them chewy.


  1. Printen Printen printen...another new discovery, and another fun baking trip. The market reminds me of one we visited when we were in the UK last year. Gorgeous!! Hope Christmas was MERRY, and that 2011 is fabulous in every way!

  2. Intriguing! Yes, as Deeba says we love discovering new, local, specialty treats and these actually look quite yummy! Your little history of Aachen is fascinating and the market is so pretty and looks much more traditional than the cheap Xmas market here in Nantes! Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous 2011 - and lots of perfect macarons! xo

  3. Hi Lora, My Christmas dream is to enter a market guarded by large edible cookies. I enjoyed reading about the history of Aachen especially about your husband's family. I know I would like Printen cookies as they contain all the ingredients, especially spices that I love. I noticed you posted many wonderful holiday inspired recipes this month, thanks so much for sharing such an interesting part of the world. Happy holidays to you and your family, Patty

  4. My father's wife is german and they love to explore the Christmas markets. I've heard so much about them and would love to check them out. Wonderful cookies too!

  5. thank you! my son and I just returned from a trip to Germany (our third in three years) during which we took a day trip to Aachen. We LOVED the printen from Nobis bakery. I brought some home with me and I am trying not to eat them all up in a few days. I am happy to find your recipe. Vielen dank!

    1. You're welcome. Aachen is a special city. Enjoy!

  6. Maybe it's because I was born in Aachen why I'm truly addicted to almost any kind of sweets... :-) And Aachener Printen are my very favourite cookies in pre Christmas time.

    Today, I don't live in Aachen any longer and thus I order Printen online, directly from the famous original manufacturer:
    This may be of interest for any international Printen lover, since they are shipping their products world wide! Somewhat costly, but if one orders the supply for the entire neighborhood, it may pay off. ;-)


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