These wonderful little chocolate biscuits are called Brotlaibchen, which is German for “little loaves of bread”. Because of their shape, dark colour and crunchy cracked sugar crust, they look just like little loaves of (German) bread. But unlike bread, these little treats are sweet and chewy on the inside.
Brotlaibchen combine grated dark chocolate, ground almonds, cinnamon, a hint of cloves, rum (or orange juice), stiffened egg whites, egg yolks, icing sugar, a little flour and cocoa to provide a delightful taste experience.
Along with other festive biscuits such as Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars), Vanillekipferl (Vanilla Shortbread Crescents) and Lebkuchen (Spiced Gingerbread), Brotlaibchen are baked by many home cooks in German-speaking countries during Advent.
Advent is the time when Christians prepare to celebrate the first coming of Jesus Christ, at Bethlehem, over 2000 years ago. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, the Sunday nearest to November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (December 24). This year (2017) Advent begins on Sunday 3 December. (If you are reading this in 2019, Advent begins on Sunday 1 December.)
Actually, I commenced my Christmas baking a couple of weeks ago, in mid-November. Over several days, I made three Christmas cakes (read Christmas Cake Aussie-Style), a couple of batches of Almond Bread (Biscotti) and one batch of Brotlaibchen (a first for me).
My Christmas baking is not finished. I still have lots more to do. First, I have to make a couple more Christmas cakes and more Almond Bread. Next I plan to make Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars) again this year, as they proved very popular with family and friends when I made them for the first time last year.
Given that my first batch of Brotlaibchen was a great success, I made another batch this week with the help of my two granddaughters. They had so much fun working through each stage of the process.
Brotlaibchen are not difficult to make, although they require a little time and patience. I plan to make another batch or two before Christmas, to give as gifts. I’m sure my Australian family and friends will enjoy these little chocolate-almond delicacies!
Why don’t you give them a try this year?
Makes about 50 pieces
3 eggs (separated)
250 g finely ground almonds
180 g dark chocolate (grated)
¼ cup plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1½ tablespoons rum or orange juice
¾ cup icing sugar (for coating dough balls)
- Separate the eggs. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat until stiff. Set aside.
- Grate the chocolate and combine with the ground almonds, sifted flour and cocoa.
- Combine the egg yolks, sifted icing sugar, cinnamon, cloves and rum (or orange juice) and stir until smooth.
- Add to the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Add the stiffened egg whites to the mixture using a spatula. Do not beat but combine gently until an homogenous dough is formed.
- Cover the dough and store it in the refrigerator several hours (preferably overnight).
- Form very small balls (about 1.5 cm in diameter) out of the dough. Roll the balls in icing sugar, forming a thick sugar coating.
- Place the sugar-coated balls well apart on a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray.
- Bake slowly in a preheated oven (150 degrees Celcius or 130 degrees Celcius if fan-forced) for about 30 minutes.