Enjoy these classic German thumbprint cookies (known as Engelsaugen or Kulleraugen). These delicious cookies with tender jam-filled centers are bound to be a hit during the Christmas period and beyond!
These Christmas cookies literally melt in your mouth. They are aromatic, buttery and taste amazing. They are the cookies you want to bake if you are a beginner, as they are very easy to make. They are also loved by adults and kids alike plus, you can make them gluten-free.
what does the name Engelsaugen mean?
Germans are notorious for giving their food interesting names. Kalter Hund (cold dog cake), Arme Ritter (German French Toast) and Katzenzungen (cat tongues) are just a few examples. The name Engelsaugen literally translates to angels' eyes, probably because of the jam-filled centres that somehow resemble eyes.
They are also known as hussar's donuts (the hussars were members of a light cavalry in Europe and comprising of Hungary, Poland, Serbia, and Croatia during the 15th and 16th century). My research on the origins of the cookies did not amount to much, other than there is a likely relationship between the cookies and the Hussar soldiers. The name Kuller refers to a small marble in German, depecting a relationship between the name Kulleraugen (big round eyes) and the shape of the cookies.
This is a summary of the ingredients you will need to make this Engelsaugen (Kulleraugen) recipe, as well as possible substitutions. You will find the detailed measurements, as well as the step-by-step instructions in the recipe card below.
- all-purpose baking flour - substitutable on a 1:1 ratio with storebought gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- room temperature butter or margarine.
- sugar, vanilla sugar, a pinch of salt (not pictured), and some powdered sugar.
- egg yolk(s)- you will need one or two, depending on how big your eggs are.
- grated peel of one lemon and some fresh lemon juice (not pictured).
- jam - feel free to use any jam flavor that you love.
when should the cookies be filled and when should I start baking Christmas cookies?
At what point should one fill the Kulleraugen with jam? Before or after baking? I know I have asked myself this question in the past. The answer is, it really depends on you. You can choose to fill them up before or after baking. I personally find that they look prettier, filled after baking, as the centres (Augen or eyes) of the cookies stand out more once dusted with powdered sugar.
And just in case you are wondering when you should start baking Christmas cookies, you want to start baking shortly before the first Advent, as a general rule. Seeing that some cookies only have a short shelf-life, it is good to check so you can plan your baking accordingly.
Traditionally, Engelsaugen are filled with red currant jelly (Johannisbeergelee) but people use all sorts of delicious fillings nowadays. You can also add ground hazelnuts, or almonds, or some marzipan to the dough. Here are a few filling variations that we love!
- peanut butter.
- any type of nougat, such as nutella.
- lemon curd.
- or simply use your favorite jam!
storing the baked Engelsauen (Kulleraugen)
Allow the cookies to cool completely before storing them in an airtight cookie jar. They can be kept on the countertop for up to one week; after that they start getting dry and crumbly. While you can refregerate them, I do not recommend it as they tend to dense up in the fridge.
more world cuisine recipes
You certainly want to check out these tasty recipes from around the world!
- Pannekoek (South African Pancakes)
- Liver and Onions (American)
- Kachumbari (East African Tomato and Onion Salad)
- Arme Ritter (German French Toast)
- Keto Vanillekipferl (German Keto Vanilla Crescent Cookies)
Great news, you have made it this far which means you probably made or are making this Kulleraugen recipe! It would go a long way if you could leave a ⭐rating on the recipe card or comment in the comments section below.
Feel free to follow me on my social channels! Tag me @weeatatlast on Instagram, Pin it on Pinterest, or like my Facebook Page for the latest updates! Subscribe to my YouTube channel or Newsletter for regular recipe videos!
- 100 g butter (about ½ a cup)
- 50 g sugar (approx. ¼ cup)
- 2 small egg yolks (use one yolk if using a medium to large egg)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
- pinch of salt
- grated peel (rind) of one lemon
- 180 g all-purpose flour
- 3-5 tablespoon jam or marmalade
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoon powdered sugar for topping
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla sugar, and grated rind (peel) of lemon and combine.100 g butter, 50 g sugar, 2 small egg yolks, 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar, grated peel (rind) of one lemon
- Gradually add and mix in the all-purpose flour, scraping the bowl accordingly, if necessary. Add a pinch of salt and combine until you obtain a smooth and homogenous dough. Allow the dough to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.180 g all-purpose flour, pinch of salt
- Scoop the dough into small balls (about the size of a tablespoon) and roll them into smooth balls between the palms of your hands.
- Line two baking trays with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the rolled dough balls on the trays then press your thumb or the back of a spoon on the center of each cookie, to create a hole.
- Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 11-12 minutes or until the edges start to turn brown. Once done, remove the tray from the oven, and allow the cookies to cool completely before filling them.
- In a small bowl, prepare the filling by combining jam and the lemon juice.3-5 tablespoon jam or marmalade, 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Using a teaspoon, fill the cookies with the jam filling (see notes). Dust the Engelsaugen with powdered sugar, then serve or store them in airtight cookie jars.3 tablespoon powdered sugar
- To prevent the cookies from spreading, do not overmix the butter.
- Allow the dough to chill in the fridge before baking it as this helps the cookies keep their form.
- If you notice the dough is too warm as a result of the heat from the palm of your hands, pop it back in the fridge for about 10 minutes so it firms up.
- You can choose to fill the cookies before or after baking.
- If using only one baking tray to make batches, allow the baking tray to cool completely before baking subsequent batches. This helps prevent the cookies from spreading.
- Allow the cookies to cool completely before transferring them from the baking tray.
- For the best flavor, use good-quality jam or marmalade.
I love the lemon and vanilla sugar in these cookies! Really sets them apart from more American style thumbprints I've tried. Will be making them again.
Thank you! Yes, the lemon and vanilla really bring out the flavors in these cookies.
I decided to whip up a batch of these for my friends just before Christmas. I loved the ease of the recipe - and everyone loved the taste!
We love them too. Glad I could be of help.
I haven't had engelsaugen since I lived in Germany and missed them so much. Your recipe was better than I remembered them, so I will be making them often.
Thank you very much! I am so glad you loved them!