An essential element of the perfect Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) visit is eating and drinking. This is both a cultural experience and a necessary step to avoid freezing to death in German winter.
Once you have reached your fill of Bratwurst and Glühwein, the goodies keep coming with 7 sweets to eat at a Christmas Market. Warm your hands with a bag of Gebrannte Mandeln (roasted almonds) and get a sugar high with colorful licorice to keep on marketing!
Stollen, a German Christmas cake, is a must-have in any German home during Christmas. Dense and moist with loads of fruit, spices, and nuts, it is sweetened with an even covering of powdered sugar. At Christmas markets you can buy your own little loaf, each said to resemble Baby Jesus in swaddling clothes.
This traditional cake dates back to the 14th century in the regal city of Dresden. It has the oldest Christmas market in Germany and a festival dedicated to the loaf. The Stollen Festival presents the world's biggest Stollen at 3,429 kilograms, 3.65 meters long, 1.75 meters wide and over a meter high. It is carried through the crowds by a team of horses and surrounded by the pastry chefs who completed the feat. Buy a piece of the beast at the Dresden Striezelmarkt with all the profits going to charity.
You'll smell this treat before you see them. Gebrannte Mandeln are sugared almonds that release a sticky sweet scent and are served in portable Papiertüte (paper cones). Try the basic version, or experiment with different flavorings like cocoa powder, Nutella or chili or walnuts, cashews, and peanuts. A cone only costs about 2.50 euro for 100 grams so it is the ideal snack.
Most often associated with Oktoberfest celebrations, this gingerbread cookie makes an appearance at every German festival. Usually sold in its characteristic heart shape with sayings like Ich Liebe Dich (I love you), there will be a few more with Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas) at the Weihnachtsmärkte.
These fluffy little dough balls have a variety of names. Schmalzkuchen or Mutzenmandeln are deep-fried and rolled in confectioners sugar - what is not to love? Soft and sweet and perfectly warm. Note that they are really only good when fresh so shop carefully.
A Schneeball is as fun to eat as it is to say. What literally translates to the word "snowball" is actually a ball of shortcrust pastry which is then fried and coated in sugar or dipped in chocolate. For true decadence, select one with chocolate or marzipan fillings. We had our first in Rothenburg ob der Tauber and have been hooked on that sweet stuff ever since.
Licorice and Bonbons
Usually sold alongside the Gebrannte Mandeln, colorful candies and licorice are a treat for the eyes. Long ropes of red, blue and green are for very accessible, but the Scandinavian version of salty black licorice is more of an acquired taste.
Another colorful option is the hard candies like the Krauterbonbons. This candy is also heavily influenced by anise and fruit flavors. In some markets, booths produce the candy on-site, pulling the sugar and pressing it into molds.
Candied and Skewered Fruit
Below the Lebkuchenherz you can find fruit beneath candy. You may recognize Paradies Apfel (toffee apple) and Schoko Apfel (chocolate apple), or select strawberries, apple, and pineapple impaled on a stick and covered in chocolate to munch on while you walk around.
If you prefer your fruit without a chocolate coating, there is a wide selection of dried and candied fruits.