“Mannemer Dreck”, sang Joy Fleming in 1973 and introduced the world beyond the Kurpfalz metropolis to their “sugar-sweet” speciality. Because it is by no means a specific Mannheim mixture of rubble, scrap and air pollution, but a cute Christmas cookie, a counter-proposal to the Rhine-Neckar region contaminated by chemical companies.

    Let’s spread the cloak of silence about the fact that the pastry, which consists mainly of sugar, honey, almonds and marzipan and is coated with dark chocolate and invented in 1862 by the master baker Friedrich Bechter, has no less devastating consequences in the human body. Because soon it will be Christmas, and during the Advent season all dietary rules are suspended.

    As soon as the first candle burns on the Advent wreath, there is no holding back – port wine, cocoa with orange liqueur, gingerbread, chocolate Santa Claus and, above all, Christmas cookies dominate the menu. It is striking that the German states have produced an almost unbelievable variety.

    Not only the names, but also the recipes, some of which are centuries old, reflect the particular characteristics of the regions. While people in Protestant areas mainly stick to sugar, flour, butter and eggs and ascetically piously prefer to speak of “Christmas rolls”, Catholics prefer opulent bombs refined with marzipan, nougat and honey. The Munich confectioner Martin Schönleben has collected more than a hundred such spices in his compendium simply entitled “The best Christmas cookies”.

    Goethe’s favorite pastry, for example, the Frankfurter Brenten, the production of which the poet Eduard Mörike described eloquently in a poem. Schönleben describes the preparation of Krausen Jägerschnitte, the recipe for which goes back to Friedrich Schiller’s mother, from Hamburg ice floes, Thuringian devil’s kisses and butter-S, scarcely less poetically. The latter have also been very familiar to the author since early childhood, after all, three generations of women have fought for his favor and spoiled him well into adulthood with packages full of shortbread, Butter-S, hazelnut rolls, Hussar donuts and Springerle.

    The production of Springerle, which, like the Frankfurt Brenten, was rolled out with a wooden model – a rolling pin decorated with relief motifs – was discontinued at some point because the square, anise-scented small works of art were extremely temperature-sensitive. They had to be stored in the cold attic, from where they were brought into the warm room just before they were eaten, and yet they were often so rock-hard that your milk teeth almost fell off.

    This is how hussar donuts are made

    Hussar donuts, on the other hand, were always wonderfully tender, crumbly and scored with a dollop of rosehip jam that rested in a small cavity. Their manufacture is simple. You need 140 grams of butter, 2 egg yolks, which you stir at room temperature until fluffy and work into a smooth dough with 70 grams of sugar, the pulp of a small vanilla bean and 280 grams of flour with the dough hook of the mixer. You put it in the fridge for half an hour, then you form a three centimeter thick roll, which you in turn cut into three centimeter wide pieces.

    Small balls are formed from this, which are first rolled in egg yolk and then in chopped almonds before making a dent with the handle of a wooden spoon, which is then filled with a dollop of jam. Bake in the oven at 150 degrees for about 35 minutes until golden. The remaining egg whites flow into a shaker prepared with ice cubes, from which they are mixed with 30 ml cognac, 30 ml rum, 15 ml Madeira, 15 ml sugar syrup and 20 ml cream per egg white, after vigorous shaking they come out again as a wonderfully creamy Baltimore Eggnog and , sprinkled with a pinch of nutmeg, help pass the waiting time.