Bethmännchen Cookies

German Christmas Cookies: Bethmännchen

Bethmännchen cookies are among the traditional German Christmas cookie recipes.  These cookies were originally created to honour the Bethmann family. Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg was the Chancellor of the German Empire in the early 1900's. Why three almonds on top of these cookies?  Because the Chancellor had three sons.

If you love marzipan, you'll love these Bethmännchen, because that's one of the main ingredients.

Bethmännchen Cookies


  • about 3 oz almonds, skinless, halved 
  • 8 oz marzipan, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk


  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Separate egg.
  • Mix icing sugar and flour together. Add egg white and marzipan.
  • Mix with a dough hook in mixer until you have a smooth dough. (Or knead with your hands.)
  • Roll dough into balls the size of walnuts. You may need to add 1 - 2 tbsp flour extra so the dough isn't too sticky.
  • Place cookies onto cookie sheet. Mix egg yolk and milk together. Brush mixture on cookies.
  • Press three almond halves into each cookie with the tips pointing upward.
  • Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until pale golden.
  • Place on a cookie rack until cold.
  • Makes about 35 cookies.

You need to purchase marzipan for this. It can be found in the baking sections of most grocery stores and, of course, at German delis. With its high sugar content, marzipan will keep almost indefinitely. (Not in our house, though. We so enjoy it, it keeps disappearing!)

Make your own Marzipan ...

It is possible to make your own marzipan. It really is just a mixture of ground almonds, icing sugar, and rosewater.

My Mutti had a recipe she made that also included mashed potatoes. It helped to decrease the cost, since almonds were very expensive. 

However, because it's not a real marzipan, I wouldn't use it to bake with. It works fine for decorating or just eating. It was made with mashed potatoes, almond flavoring, and icing (powdered) sugar. 

There's one hint that you'll definitely need when making these cookies. When you are rolling the dough into little balls, keep moistening your hands with water so that the dough won't stick.

Take a look at Oma's eCookbooks ...

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