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.