Experience the ultimate holiday treat this season with Engelsaugen aka Husarenkrapfen – a classic German thumbprint cookie! These delectable cookies are the perfect balance of sweet and tart, with a buttery, crumbly texture that will have everyone asking for more. Enjoy the traditional taste of German holiday baking with these delightful treats, perfect for any occasion!
Celebrating Christmas has never been sweeter than with these delicious thumbprint cookies with jam! Originating in Germany, these festive treats have been a holiday favorite for centuries and inspired recipes all over the world.
If you enjoy German Christmas, you should visit my German Christmas section. Take a look at the German Christmas page to discover all the wonderful recipes and traditions that make this holiday so special.
What are Engelsaugen aka Husarenkrapfen?
These melt-in-your-mouth treats are made from a buttery short bread dough that is rolled into balls, then pressed with a thumbprint to create the signature shape. Traditionally they are filled with red currant jam, but nowadays you will find them filled with all kinds of jams, chocolate and nougat fillings.
Literally translated, Engelsaugen means angel eyes. "Engel" is the German word for angela and "Augen" means eyes in English.
How to pronounce "Engelsaugen" in German?
Listen to this audio file to hear how to say "Engelsaugen".
Ingredients & Substitutes
You only need a few basic ingredients to make these delicious German Christmas cookies.
- Flour - Unbleached all-purpose flour is the perfect choice for baking delicious cookies.
- Powdered Sugar - The butter and powdered sugar create a melt-in-your-mouth texture in these cookies.
- Butter - I only use real butter for these cookies, as the taste of butter is what makes or breaks taste and texture. But many people in Germany use margarine instead.
- Egg Yolks - Only the egg yolks are used in this recipe, check out my German hazelnut macaroons to use up the egg whites.
- Lemon Zest - A hint of lemon gives these cookies their beloved signature flavor. Freshly grated lemon zest is best, but you could also use lemon flavor.
- Salt - A pinch of salt can make all the difference in the flavor of a baked good. Salt helps to enhance the sweetness and bring out the flavors in the other ingredients.
- Vanilla Extract - Instead of vanilla extract, you can also use ½ a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.
- Jam - Traditionally, red currant preserve is used for this recipe. But apricot, tart cherry, and raspberry jam are also great alternatives. Slightly tart jams are best for this recipe, as they go so well with the sweetness of the cookie dough. Check out the section below for more delightful fillings.
See recipe card for quantities.
Try the delicious German thumbprint cookies in a variety of flavors:
- Hazelnut spread like Nutella
- Peanut or almond butter
- Biscoff cookie butter
- Strawberry, orange, plum or other preserves
- Homemade Nougat
- Drizzle the filled cookies with lemon-sugar glaze or melted chocolate
To make this treat, not many kitchen utensils are required.
- large mixing bowl or
- stand mixer with paddle attachment
- measuring cups and spoons
- two baking sheet
- silicone mats or parchment paper
- cooking spoon with a round end
- small piping bag or teaspoon
- There are basically three ways to fill the cookies. Before baking, after baking and some people fill the cookies before baking and top the filling off after baking.
- Over the years I started to prefer the method to fill the cookies after baking. The baking process cooks the jam down which results in a chewer texture and the cookies don´t look as nice in my opinion. But this is a personal preference.
- Make sure to use only jams without berry seeds or fruit chunks.
- Warming the jelly a bit and using a small piping bag instead of a teaspoon makes filling the cookies way faster and mess-free.
Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 4-6 weeks.
Engelsaugen aka Husarenkrapfen - German Thumb Print Cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 11 tbsp. soft butter
- 2 egg yolks large
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp. vanilla sugar or 2 tbsp. sugar plus 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 1 tsp. lemon zest or ¼ tsp. lemon extract
- 1 pinch of salt
- 7 oz. smooth apricot jam or seedless raspberry jelly
- to taste powdered sugar for dusting the cookies optional
- Add flour, soft butter, egg yolks, powdered sugar, vanilla sugar (or sugar plus vanilla bean paste), lemon zest, and a pinch of salt to large stand mixer bowl with paddle attachment. Knead until just combined to a smooth dough.
- Shape the dough into a square. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Shape small balls out of the dough, and place them on the prepared baking sheets.
- Use the end of a large wooden spoon to form a deep dent in the middle of each cookie. Make sure don´t stick the spoon all through the end of the dough.Dip the end of the spoon into flour to avoid sticking to the dough.
- Place for 30 minutes into the fridge in case your dough got to warm during the shaping process. If in doubt, just chill the dough.
- Bake for about 10 - 12 min. or until lightly golden.
- Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets.
- Optional: Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Fill every cookie with jelly. This works best if you warm the jelly slightly and place it into a piping bag or use a small teaspoon to add the jelly into the cookie.
- Making these cookies is a perfect way to empty some of your open jam jars and make more room in the fridge.