Brown Butter-Cardamom Spitzbuben


German for "cheeky boys," these Bavarian cookies will be the star of your holiday cookie platter. Brown butter and cardamom make this simple cookie into a fragrant treat. Take the time to freshly grind the cardamom—its robust, citrusy flavor is worth it. You can use round or fluted cutters to cut out the cookies and any shape that takes your fancy for the center.

Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
5 hrs 20 mins
4 dozen


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (12 ounces)

  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 16 ounces)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

  • 3/4 cup apricot, cherry, blueberry, or seedless raspberry jam, stirred until smooth


  1. Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium, stirring occasionally, until butter is lightly browned and smells nutty, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer butter to the bowl of a stand mixer; let cool completely, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

  2. Stir together flour, salt, baking powder, cardamom, and ginger in a medium bowl; set aside.

  3. Split vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape seeds into butter. Add brown sugar, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg, and beat until fully incorporated. Add yolks, and beat until fully incorporated. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 additions, beating well after each addition.

  4. Turn dough out onto a work surface, and knead to make sure all ingredients are incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide dough in half, and shape each portion into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 2 hours or up to overnight.

  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove 1 dough disk from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature to soften slightly, about 20 minutes. Unwrap dough, and roll between 2 sheets of parchment paper to about 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out cookies, and transfer to parchment paper–lined baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between cookies. Gather scraps once, reroll, and cut out more cookies. (Refrigerate rerolled dough before cutting if it becomes too soft.) Repeat softening, rolling, and cutting with remaining dough disk, making sure to cut the same number of cookies you cut from the first disk. Using a 1-inch cutter, cut the centers out of half of the cookies. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown around edges, about 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheets about 30 minutes.

  6. Dust cutout cookies with powdered sugar. Flip remaining cookies over, and spread each with about 1 teaspoon jam. Sandwich with cutout cookies.

    Spitzbuben Holiday Cookie Recipe
    Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Make Ahead

Dough can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in refrigerator.


Dough from cookie cutouts can be rerolled with scraps once or baked until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

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