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.
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!)
It is possible to make your own marzipan. It really is just a mixture of ground almonds, powdered 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 extract, and powdered sugar.
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