No platter of German Christmas cookies would be complete without Nussecken (Nut Corners). This beloved layered slice is eternally popular at Christmas time, and it’s easy to see why!
Made from buttery shortbread pastry, topped with apricot jam and sticky hazelnuts, this triangular treat is taken to the next level by dipping the corners in dark chocolate. Delicious!
To make classic German Nussecken, you’ll need the following main ingredients:
- Hazelnuts: The star of the show in these nutty delights! All year round, but particularly at Christmas time, we use a lot of hazelnuts in German baking, so they are very easy to come by. If you can’t get ground or chopped hazelnuts where you are, check the recipe card for instructions on toasting and preparing whole nuts. Alternatively, replace them with almonds.
- Sugar: I use white sugar in this recipe as I prefer to taste the hazelnuts. However, you can use brown sugar in the nut layer if you want a more pronounced caramel flavour.
- Butter: I always use unsalted butter in baking to control the amount of salt in the final product.
- Flour: Plain or all-purpose flour is suitable for this recipe.
- Apricot Jam: I like to use a high fruit content jam that is quite smooth for easy spreading for the apricot layer. If using apricot preserves with large pieces of fruit, I’d recommend pureeing them to make them smooth. If you don’t like apricots, you can replace it with any other tart jam or jelly. Raspberry (sieved to remove the seeds) or red currant are very nice.
- Dark Chocolate: Use high-quality dark chocolate for best results. I often melt double as much chocolate as I need to make dipping more manageable, then re-melt the rest for use in other recipes.
Nussecken are very simple to make at home, and this recipe makes a big tray, so there are plenty to go around!
- First, cream butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well, then sift over the dry ingredients, mixing gently, just until a smooth, soft dough forms. Wrap in clingfilm and chill while you prepare the nut layer.
- To make the nut layer, melt butter in a saucepan, then stir in sugar, vanilla sugar and water. Stir through the chopped and ground hazelnuts, then remove from the heat.
- Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4 with a rack in the bottom third (this helps to cook the base of the Nussecken while preventing the nuts on top from over-browning). Roll out the shortbread dough to approximately 30x40cm (12x 15.5 in), then transfer to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment paper. This is a soft dough (Murbteig), so it may be easier to roll it out between two sheets of paper or clingfilm.
- Spread the dough with a thin layer of apricot jam, then top with the nut mixture, spreading it gently and evenly across the surface. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until golden brown.
- Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing into triangles. When the Nussecken have cooled completely, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, then dip the tips of the two longest sides in the chocolate. Place on a tray lined with baking paper to set before storing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use margarine to make Nussecken?
I always use good quality butter to make Christmas cookies and recommend it for the best results.
Can I use other nuts to make Nussecken?
Yes! Almonds, walnuts, pecans or a mixture can be used.
German Nussecken Recipe
for the pastry:
- 125g (½ cup) white sugar
- 125g (1 stick + 1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 300g (1 ¾ cups + 2 Tbsp) plain or all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
for the nut layer:
- 200g (7 oz.) unsalted butter
- 100g (3.5 oz) white sugar
- 20g (4 tsp) vanilla sugar or 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g (7 oz.) chopped hazelnuts (see notes)
- 200g (7 oz.) ground hazelnuts
- 250g (8.75 oz.) apricot jam
for the chocolate:
- 250g (8.75 oz.) dark chocolate, chopped
- MAKE THE PASTRY: Combine sugar and soft butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until well combined. Sift over the flour, baking powder and salt, then run the mixer on low until the mixture comes together in a soft, smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
- PREPARE THE NUT TOPPING: Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F/ Gas 4 with a rack in the lower third. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the sugars and 4 tablespoons of water and stir until well combined. Stir through the hazelnuts, then remove from the heat.
- ROLL OUT PASTRY: Roll out the shortbread crust to fit a baking sheet of approximately 30x40cm (you may find rolling it out between two sheets of baking paper or clingfilm easiest). Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper and place the pastry on top.
- ADD TOPPINGS: Spread the pastry evenly with the apricot jam, then spoon the nut mixture on top of the jam, using your fingers to press it down gently and evenly across the whole surface. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until golden brown.
- COOL: Allow the Nussecken to cool for 5 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut into squares and then diagonally into triangles. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before the next step.
- DIP IN CHOCOLATE: Melt two-thirds of the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir through the remaining third of the chocolate until melted, then remove from the heat. Dip the two long corners of each triangular Nussecke in the melted chocolate, then place on a tray lined with baking parchment paper to allow the chocolate-dipped corners to set.
To roast and de-skin whole hazelnuts:
Place the hazelnuts on a tray in a single layer. Roast in the oven at 200°C / 400°C / Gas 6 for approximately 10 minutes until the skins split and darken. Pour your lovely fragrant toasted hazelnuts into a sieve set over a large bowl and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then stir and rub the hazelnuts in the sieve to remove the skins. Pulse in a food processor to chop. You can make your own hazelnut meal by processing until fine.
No Hazelnuts? No problem! Replace them with chopped almonds and ground almonds / almond flour / almond meal instead.
Storage: In Germany, we store Christmas cookies in metal cookie tins. If you keep the Nussecken in an airtight container, they may become a little soft over time.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 36 Serving Size: 1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 165Total Fat: 9.3gSaturated Fat: 5.9gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 16mgCarbohydrates: 20.5gFiber: 0.4gSugar: 12.2gProtein: 1.7g
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