Like beer, cookies in Germany are regional. Each state has its own specialty, a delicious discovery on the end of a long autobahn drive.
Generally, in Germany, what we would call cookies are denser, richer, and less sweet than the fluffy chocolate-chip concoctions in America. For those with a hefty sweet tooth (teeth?), they can take a little getting to use to.
Earlier this chilly month, we visited Aachen, where German kings were once coronated. Aachen specializes in a specific type of cookie, which can only be made in its region: Printen.
Printen are dense gingerbread-type cookies, sometimes dotted with nuts or fruits or what reminded me of crystallized ginger. They are often cloaked in rich white chocolate or dark chocolate, or a lighter icing, or decorated with nuts. And they are divine.
Shops with “Printen” printed in the window are all throughout the old city, where most tourists end up visiting the Dom. The Dom – cathedral – is spectacular, especially the sparkling mosaics on the ceiling.
Each bakery supposedly has its own secret recipe. Printens are sold in big rectangles, the size of a large greeting card, or in chunks, like you see here.
They reportedly can last a long while (not that they have lasted long with us), and like many German cookies, grow hard over time. Sticking a piece of bread in the cookie tin adds moisture and softens them up in a day.
I read, only later, unfortunately, that Printen is also an ingredient in a local beef dish, Sauerbraten! The gravy is supposedly concocted out of raisins, Printen and sugar beet syrup. I am so intrigued.
We tried a few kinds of Printen from two different bakeries: glazed with nuts, chocolate covered, iced, and the white chocolate, which were my favorite. (Side tip: Great article on white chocolate from Saveur magazine.) The creamy white chocolate matches up so well with the thick gingerbread. I’m tempted to try this recipe …