Sunday, May 17, 2020

Hänsel & Gretel Cookies - How to turn Yesterday's Loaves into Today's Cookies - Hänsel & Gretel Kekse

When you’re going through unknowable times, something familiar – like cookies - are very comforting and may help keep you on an even keel. Additionally, you will be able to use up some of those breadcrumbs (Semmelbrösel) that you have left over from yesterday’s baguette or breakfast rolls (Semmel oder Brötchen). Commercially baked bread becomes stale through loss of moisture relatively quickly, so it's easy to turn yesterday's loaves into today's cookies.

Staying home for most parts of the day, home-schooling and weekend brunches have lead to considerable stacks of stale breads and rolls, which I like to turn into jars full of breadcrumbs that I use in various recipes. Breadcrumbs are one of my favorite kitchen staples and these lovely cookies are just one of the ways I make good use of yesterday's baked goods.

This is maybe a somewhat unusual cookie recipe where breadcrumbs replace part of the flour. The cookies have a bit of crunch, yet stay moist inside and are definitely not too sweet.

They are as delicious with ground almonds as they are with ground hazelnuts or walnuts or a mix of ground nuts. The breadcrumbs add a nice bit of crunch here, the molasses adds a bit of a caramel note and chewiness, the salt is for the balance of flavors and the cinnamon for a nice warm note (you can also add speculoos, gingerbread, apple pie spice here if you happen to have some left over). The dark chocolate I like to use is studded with whole hazelnuts. You can, of course, add regular dark chocolate (100g) and add whole toasted hazelnuts (50g) or use dark chocolate with almonds, or go with milk chocolate, if that’s what you have on hand, but remember that using different kinds of chocolate, will make these cookies more or less sweet.

The cookie dough will take no time to put together. And these cookies are wonderful on their own, but I think they would also be quite charming with a bowl of fresh seasonal fruits or berries.

Hänsel & Gretel Cookies
(yields 18 cookies)

  • 100g almond meal (finely ground almonds with skin or go with walnuts, hazelnuts or a mix thereof)
  • 80g breadcrumbs
  • 100g spelt flour (or go with AP/plain flour instead)
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon (you can substitute other spice mixes including speculoos or gingerbread or apple pie)
  • 150g unsalted butter (you can substitute with salted butter but then omit the salt entirely or cut back to a pinch)
  • 120g superfine (baking) sugar (you can substitute with 60g white and 60g brown sugar ot go wwith all brown)
  • 8g pure vanilla sugar
  • 2 tsps molasses (I like to use ‚Rübenkraut‘ from a local manufacturer)
  • 1 egg (L), free-range or organic
  • 100g dark chocolate with hazelnuts (you can substitute 100g dark chocolate and 50g whole hazelnuts in total), chopped into chunks
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped onto chunks
  1. Put the almond meal and breadcrumbs in the food processor and whiz together with the flour, salt, and cinnamon to combine.
  2. With your stand or hand mixer beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar until everything is thoroughly blended. Add the molasses and the egg and beat some more until the dough is smooth.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and whisk together.
  4. Add the chocolate chunks and mix briefly.
  5. Cover the bowl and let the cookie dough rest for about an hour in a cool place. If you want to bake the cookies a couple of hours later, make sure to cover the dough carefully with kitchen wrap and place the bowl in the refrigerator, then take the cookie dough out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you would like to bake the cookies.
  6. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 170°C (350°F).
  7. When the dough has had a chance to rest, form about 18 cookies by using an ice cream scoop or spoons, and lay the dough balls about 2.5cm (1in) apart on two parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake for about 12 to 13 minutes, until the edges have slightly browned and the cookies are a little bit firm. Let them rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes (to let the melted choclate settle), then remove them to a rack to continue cooling.
  9. When completely cool, store the cookies in an airtight container, they keep well for a few days. But they are best eaten the day they were made.

Hänsel & Gretel Kekse

(für 18 Kekse)
  • 100g Mandelmehl
  • 80g Semmelbrösel
  • 100g Dinkelmehl (Type 630)
  • ½ TL feines Salz
  • ¾ TL Ceylon Zimt
  • 150g Butter
  • 120g feinster Zucker
  • 8g Bourbon Vanille Zucker
  • 2 TL Rübenkraut (Zuckerrübensirup)
  • 1 Ei (L), Bio oder Freilandhaltung
  • 100g dunkle Schokolade mit Haselnüssen (oder Mandeln)
  • 50g dunkle Schokolade (oder 100g dunkle Schokolade und 50g Haselnüsse)
  1. Das Mandelmehl zusammen mit den Semmelbröseln, dem Mehl, Salz und Zimt in die Küchenmaschine (Multizerkleinerer) gegen und ordentlich durchmischen.
  2. Die Butter, den Zucker, Vanillezucker und den Zuckerrübensirup mit einem Handrührgerät verrühren, bis die Masse schön cremig ist.
  3. Anschließend das Mehlgemisch unter die Buttermasse rühren, bis ein glatter Teig entsteht.
  4. Dann die gehackte Schokolade (und Nüsse) unterheben, abdecken und zirka 1 Stunde kühl stellen.
  5. Den Ofen auf 170°C vorheizen.
  6. Danach wird der Teig mit zwei Teelöffeln in kleinen runden Portionen auf zwei mit Backpapier ausgelegte Bleche gegeben, dabei zirka 2.5cm Abstand lassen, denn die Cookies gehen beim Backen etwas auf.
  7. Auf mittlerer Schiene circa 12 bis 13 Minuten hellgelb backen. Das Blech aus dem Ofen nehmen und die Kekse ein paar Minuten auf dem Blech abkühlen lassen, dann direkt auf ein Gitter legen und ganz abkühlen lassen. Mit dem zweiten Blech gleich verfahren.
  8. Nach dem Abkühlen in eine luftdichte Dose geben. Luftdicht verschlossen halten sich die Kekse ein paar Tage. Am besten schmecken die Cookies jedoch ganz frisch. Tipp: Die Kekse sollten noch einen weichen Biss haben und sind nicht knusprig oder gar hart sein - achten Sie darauf, dass die Kekse nicht zu lange im Ofen sind, denn außerhalb des Ofens garen sie aufgrund der eigenen Hitze noch nach.

More recipes with leftovers and forgotten ingredients to follow.


  1. These are great! I often have stale bread and don’t know what to do with it.

    1. Dear Gaye, then these lovely cookies would be perfect - you can even halve or quarter the recipe quite easily - I know that's what you like to do with some of the wonderful recipes that you bake throughout the year!
      Thanks for stopping by, hope you are doing well!

  2. Hello, dear Andra - what wonderful looking kekse these are! And I love the Hänsel und Gretel card! (And never, until today, knew that Hänsel had an umlaut!) It is such a good ay to use something which might get thrown away - although, I always save breadcrumbs! I hope you, Thomas, and the girls are well. Ganz liebe Grüße, David

    1. Dear David - these breadcrumb cookies are nice but your cake in honor of the girls scouts certainly caught my attention as well!
      And, yes, Hänsel is written with that dreaded Umlaut 'ä' - I know that the American way is different but, I believe we should follow the original version of the Gebrüder Grimm on this one ;)
      Hope you and Mark are doing well, my friend!

  3. Die Kekse sehen sehr lecker aus , schade das ich dieses Rezept nicht kannte als ich mit den Kindern in der Schule Hänsel und Gretel aufgeführt habe.

    1. Liebe Gerlinde, dann mußt du sie mal für dich und deinen lieben Gatten machen ;) - schmecken wirklich sehr gut und halten sich ohne Geschmacksverlust für ein paar Tage. Ich habe sie in Anlehnung an das wundervolle Märchen (natürlich wegen der Brotkrumen) so benannt und bei den Kindern ist das gut angekommen.
      Liebe Grüße nach Santa Cruz,

  4. What a brilliant idea, using breadcrumbs in cookies! And I especially love that you've used bread that might otherwise have been thrown away.

    1. Dear Jeff, using breadcrumbs in cookies is an idea that I had been turning around in my head for quite some time now. I finally got around to trying a few versions of this cookie and my esteemed taste testers loved this version which I then turned into this post! Extraordinary times seem to call for different kinds of recipes ;)