Bethmännchen (German for “a little Bethmann”) is a pastry made from marzipan with almond, icing sugar (powdered sugar), rosewater, flour and egg. It is a traditional cookie usually baked for Christmas Day and is widely available in chocolate shops around Frankfurt.
It is a special commodity sold in Frankfurt’s Christmas market, one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany which dates back as far as 1393.
The name comes from the family of Bethmann. Legend has it that Parisian pastry chef Jean Jacques Gautenier developed the recipe for banker and city councilor Simon Moritz von Bethmann in 1838. Originally the Bethmännchen were decorated with four almonds, one for each son of Simon Moritz. After the death of his son Heinrich in 1845, the fourth almond was removed. However, this story is unlikely, since Simon Moritz had died already in 1826.
After one and a half centuries of manufacturing, its form and recipe has never been changed.
Frankfurter Bethmännchen - A Christmas pastry
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons peeled almond halves
- 120 almond halves, reserved for decoration
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons prepared marzipan <em>, a prepared almond paste usually packaged in logs, available in specialty food stores</em>
- 1 tablespoon rosewater
- 7 tablespoons icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 2 small eggs
- 3½ tablespoons flour
- Preheat oven to 175°C. Finely grind the measured almonds. Break the marzipan dough into small pieces and mix with one of the eggs, rosewater, icing sugar, ground almonds and flour.
- Separate the remaining egg and beat the yolk, set aside. Form marzipan mixture into balls the size of walnuts, placing three almond halves onto the top of each ball. Brush each ball with the beaten yolk and place on a cookie sheet.
- Place cookie sheet on the middle rack. Bake 15 minutes until golden brown.
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