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Stollen bites with pistachio marzipan

Fri, 13 December, 2019

Stollen bites are fun-sized bits of edible Christmas cheer, aka German Christmas log with dried fruit and marzipan. They take a little effort to make, considering you’re making about 84 miniature stollens, but it’s worth it: the only problem is how to stop eating them.

stollen bites with pistachio marzipan and apple marmalade

Pre-festive health spell? What a good idea.

I was doing so well: I set out at the beginning of December for a pre-festive health spell. I figured I could do with losing a couple of pounds (I always can) before mince pies and mulled wine start to attack.

I wanted to give my liver and its neighbours a restful recharge before they needed to tackle pigs in blankets and mojitos. I thought a bit of fast before the feast would do everybody good, a few days of salads before potatoes roasted in goose fat and meringue roulades.

mini stollen bites

I was doing very well. I managed to dodge a cranberry ginger cake and several batches of mince pies.

I was sensible in my oatcakes-with-butter-and-jam (my recent obsession; I dare you not to get hooked even if you have none of the three elements homemade [I’m totally serious: I bake the oatcakes, churn butter myself and still have jars of jam left over from summer preserving session {but I know I go into overdrive sometimes}]) intake.

I didn’t test my panettone skills in advance, which usually results in consuming at least half of one right out of the oven.

I was doing fine and would have succeeded in my pre-tox if it wasn’t for these little devils.

christmas stollen bites with pistachio marzipan

What are Stollen bites?

Stollen bites are a cunning way of eating the equivalent of a whole Stollen log, bit by bit – or indeed bite by bite.

They trick you into thinking they’re nothing much, barely a morsel, half a raisin and a few crumbs of sugar in each. But oh man, it is simply impossible to stop at one, two – even four.

Fiddly to make, easy to eat

They do take a while to produce, being fiddly tricksters. The Stollen dough, buttery and beautiful, this time is ever so slightly less rich: with slightly lower fruit and almond element and no peel or cranberries.

It needs to be rolled out and shaped into long thin rolls wrapped around a strip of pistachio marzipan and a lick of apple preserve.

Neither is obligatory but both totally exquisite; I lifted the idea off Heston Blumenthal’s Waitrose Stollen and concocted my own recipe.

Then you cut the long thin rolls into squares, about 3 x 3cm, and that alone takes you an hour. By the time you’ve finished though, the first batch will have risen and be ready to go into the oven which is good timing.

Being little Stollens, they obviously need buttering and sugaring right out of the oven. This time ithe job is easier than with grown-up Stollen: simply dip the bites in a pot of melted butter and roll them in a saucerful of sugar. And repeat.

And then shower with icing sugar, just to make them look pretty.

christmas stollen bites with apple marmalade

So good - too good

I suppose it’s a good job they are so laborious and fiddly. Otherwise I dread to think: I might persuade myself they were also an Easter thing, or that you can have them for breakfast every other day. And that would have seriously catastrophic consequences…

But if you take the trouble (and are very well disciplined so you won’t eat them all yourself), Stollen bites make an excellent gift.

A few of them prettily boxed and wrapped can be given to friends and family – the only problem is they’ll want to come back for more!

sugar coated stollen bites

More German Christmas recipes

The full-sized version of Stollen: this butter Stollen has a fruit and nut filling.

Certainly less common abroad, but popular in Germany is the Stollen filled with poppy seed mixture, Mohnstollen.

Just as laborious as Stollen bites and just as gorgeous are Zimtsterne, German cinnamon star biscuits with meringue coating.

More little Christmas treat recipes

Or go for the classic: gingerbread biscuits aka lebkuchen, also in the lavish, chocolate filled version.

And just so nobody says I’m in the German lobby - gingerbread biscotti, Italian cookies made to be dipped in strong espresso. Or milk.

And the English contender, mince pies! I usually bake the first batch in the beginning of November…

Stollen bites with pistachio marzipan

Servings: makes 4 dozenTime: 4 hours


  • For the starter dough:
  • 175g strong white flour
  • 7g fast-action or 30g fresh yeast
  • 150ml whole milk, at room temperature
  • For the spice mix:
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tbsp. caster sugar
  • For the fruit mix:
  • 150g raisins or sultanas
  • 30g blanched almonds
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • For the main dough:
  • 175g strong white flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 free-range egg yolk
  • 40ml milk
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • For the marzipan:
  • 100g raw pistachios
  • 100g icing sugar, plus extra to dust
  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • For the filling and coating:
  • 100g apple preserve or cooked apple puree
  • 150g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 100g butter, melted
  • icing sugar to dust


1. Mix all the ingredients for the starter dough in a large bowl. Cover with cling film and leave for an hour in a warm place. In the meantime grind the cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar and mix with the other spices and the sugar. Chop the raisins or sultanas roughly, finely chop the almonds. Stir the lemon zest into the fruit and almond mix in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Add the spice mix to the starter dough together with the ingredients for the main dough apart from the butter. Mix with your hands or in a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment for about 2 minutes. Add half the butter and knead or mix for a couple of minutes before adding the rest of the butter. Knead or mix until all the butter is mixed in and the dough is beginning to look silky smooth, stops sticking to your hands or bounces off the sides of the standing mixer bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean sheet of cling film and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.

3. When the dough has risen, mix in the fruit, almonds and the lemon zest. Return the dough to the cleaned bowl, cover loosely with cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

stollen dough

4. Now make the marzipan. Grind the pistachios with the icing sugar in a spice or coffee grinder and place with the egg yolks in a bowl. Mix with a spatula, gradually adding the lime juice, until the marzipan is smooth with a doughy consistency. Divide the marzipan in four portions, then roll on a work surface dusted lightly with icing sugar into thin sausages. Wrap each in cling film and refrigerate.

pistachio marzipan

5. Divide the rested dough in four. Form each piece into a ball and roll them out to a length of 40cm by 10-15 wide. Spread the apple preserve over the dough and line two strips of marzipan over it. Fold both long ends into the middle and split with a sharp knife.

how to make stollen bites

6. Line 2 large baking sheets with baking paper. Cut each length of the dough into 2cm pieces and arrange them on the baking trays. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 20 - 30 minutes while you proceed with the next portion of dough. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.

7. Remove the tea towel and put the baking sheets in the lower half of the oven (you can bake them one after the other if your oven doesn’t heat evenly on two layers). Bake for 5-6 minutes or until they start to brown.

mini stollen

8. Meanwhile make the coating. Mix the caster sugar with the spices in a shallow bowl and melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat.

9. Using tongs, dip each Stollen bite in the melted butter to coat, then roll in the spiced sugar. Place them on a wire rack lined with parchment. When they are all coated, dust them generously with icing sugar.

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