bear paws Christmas cookies

DSCN2344 (2)These cookies have a long tradition in my familiy, my grandma used to make them and now my Mom and I bake them every Christmas. They are called „Bärentatzen“ meaning bear paws because they are pressed into a wooden mold to form paws (though you do need a little phantasy to see the resemblance :)). They are definitely not the prettiest Christmas cookies out there but they are my favourite anyway. Also, we use less sugar than many comparable recipes call for and they don’t contain flour (a traditional gluten-free recipe you could say, dating from a time when gluten-free wasn’t even a thing!). There`s also no butter involved but lots of chocolate, which in my book are two very good things.
You don’t need that wooden mold, though, to make them and feel free to decorate them in any way you like (I’ve seen pictures of „Bärentatzen“ using sliced almond as claws, that could be an idea for next year)!

for about 25 cookies
3 egg whites
125g 85% dark chocolate
250g almond meal
2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
1 teablespoon of cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon
100g sugar*


Finely grate the dark chocolate – this is the part that takes quite a bit of elbow grease but there probably are a lot of kitchen helpers out there to quicken the process. Mix with the cocoa powder, almond meal, cinnamon and lemon zest. Beat the egg whites and add sugar. Mix everything together with a spoon. Roll the dough into balls between your palms (quite big, about 5-6cm/ 2-2,3 inches). If you have a wooden mold, press the dough balls into it to get the paw shape or use any other form that you like. You could also press the ball a bit flat to get a more traditional cookie shape (not too flat though, this way you will get a soft core). A tip if you use some sort oft mold: wipe it clean from time to time so that the dough doesn’t stick to it or roll the dough in some extra sugar or almond meal to get it out more easily.
Let the bear paws rest over night in a cool and dry place and bake them the next day at 180°C (350°F) for 20 minutes. Store them in a cookie tin. If they appear too hard and dry at first, put a few apple slices in the tin as well and they will soften up so they are just right.

*you could use less ore more sugar, it depends on your liking. Feel free to substitute it with other sweeteners like Erythritol

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