Germans take their Christmas cookies very seriously, and my mother was no exception. I can safely say that she devoted the month of December to baking. There were spritz cookies, coconut macaroons, aniseed biscuit, lion’s-tooth, and double-decker cookies with marmalade between the layers. Some of the cookies required special attachments, cookie cutters or sheets. The anise biscuits had to dry overnight. But none of these required as much planning as cinnamon waffles (Zimtwaffeln).
My dad’s sister was the only one in the family who owned a cinnamon waffle iron and my mother borrowed it every year. That required two trips – one to pick it up and one to drop it off – and of course, one had to make sure my aunt didn’t need it herself during the requested timeframe. After my aunt passed away, my cousin inherited the iron and offered it my mom. My mom then confessed that she enjoyed those visits most of all!
The waffle iron had six compartments with different motives in each one and two long handles to keep the fingers from roasting while turning it over the fire of the coal oven. Mmm, they were delicious!
After baking the cookies, my mom stored them in tin cans on top of my parents’ wardrobe – to keep us kids from stealing them. However, the biggest offender was always my dad, who had much fun in sneaking a handful of cookies every day. I’m sure they would have tasted less delicious if no stealth had been required.
When Christmas arrived we kids would pick up our gifts from our godfather and godmother. It was obligatory to receive a bag full of cookies with the gift. That gave us a tasting of other recipes, back before the days when grocery stores sold cookies year-round. For children – and adults – with a sweet tooth, December in Germany was, and still is, heavenly.