Nussecken (German nut corners) are triangular bar cookies that consists of a shortbread-like base, a layer of apricot jam, and a caramelized hazelnut topping. Each nussecke is finished by dipping the corners into dark chocolate. These bars are crunchy, chewy, nutty, sweet, fruity, buttery and chocolatey.
Nussecken are a classic German cookie. They're very popular at Christmas time, especially at the traditional German Christmas markets. You can also find them in bakeries year round.
Nussecken combine layers of buttery shortbread base with sweet apricot jam, a sugary, chewy caramelized hazelnut topping, and corners dipped in dark chocolate. The different flavors and textures work very well together to create a unique cookie that people will love to eat!
One of my favorite parts of these cookies is the nut topping. It goes into the oven as a runny mass, and transforms into a deeply golden, chewy, caramelized layer when baked. All the flavors of caramel with none of the effort!
This recipe is flexible since the nussecken are made in one large pan. You can cut them into small bars for a cookie platter, or larger bars for individual bags or snack-sized servings!
If you like bar cookies, you'll also enjoy these lebkuchen-like German spice cookies and these fudgy biscoff blondies. And these easy German kokosmakronen (chocolate dipped coconut macaroons) are another festive cookie recipe. Bonus - in my recipe you don't have to whip any egg whites!
You can also explore the entire collection of cookie recipes here.
- Unsalted butter - Butter for the shortbread should be at room temperature. The starting temperature of the butter for the nut topping doesn't matter, since it will be melted.
- Baking powder - Baking powder isn't an ingredient in many shortcrust pastry recipes, but it's a traditional part of most nussecken, so I have included it here. Much like in Italian pasta frola dough, baking powder is added for leavening. It gives the dough a softer, lighter texture than unleavened shortcrust pastry.
- Apricot Jam - Apricot jam is another traditional ingredient in these German hazelnut cookies that forms a layer between the shortcrust dough and the nut topping. The jam can be smooth or have fruit pieces in it. While other jam flavors are less common, you're welcome to substitute peach, cherry, raspberry, plum, or other jam varieties.
- Brown sugar - Most nussecken recipes call for granulated sugar in the nut topping. One of the best parts of the topping is the caramelization of the nuts and sugar that occurs when baked. With that in mind, I decided to begin with a stronger caramel flavor by using brown sugar.
- Water - While I chose to use water for the nut topping, some recipes use rum instead. Feel free to replace the water with a dark rum if desired.
- Hazelnuts - Nussecken is generally made with all hazelnuts. Since the price of hazelnuts can be high, I replaced half of the hazelnuts with almonds. Feel free to use all hazelnuts, almonds, pecans or walnuts, or a combination of them. While not required, the nuts will have a deeper, sweeter flavor if roasted first (roasting instructions included!)
* See recipe card for full list of ingredients and quantities.
Learn how to make these German nut bars! These photos provide visual cues. Detailed instructions are included in the recipe card.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add flour, salt and baking powder. Mix on medium low speed until mixture resembles fine sand. Scrape down the bowl several times to ensure no large pieces of butter remain.
Add eggs. Mix on low speed just until mixture comes together.
Gather dough into a flat rectangle.
Roll out the dough between two large pieces of parchment paper. You want it to be as close to 10 x 15 inches (or the dimensions of your pan) as possible.
Carefully flip the dough into the parchment lined pan. If needed, use a small rolling pin to roll the dough so that it extends to the edges and corners. Use a fork to dock (prick holes in) the dough to avoid air bubbles while baking.
Spread dough evenly with apricot jam. Chill in refrigerator while you make the nut topping.
To a 3 quart saucepan, add butter, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and water.
Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until ingredients are melted.
To a food processor, add the cooled roasted almonds and hazelnuts.
Pulse until finely ground. The mixture should be a combination of ground nuts (like nut flour) and very small pieces of nuts.
Add nuts to melted butter mixture and stir to combine well.
Pour nut mixture on top of jam. Spread the nut mixture into an even layer.
Bake for 30 minutes, until bars are golden brown on top and edges are caramelized and bubbly. Cool, then cut into 32 rectangles (8 x 4). Cut each on the diagonal to make 64 triangle shaped bars.
In the top of a double boiler, melt chopped chocolate, stirring frequently. Dip 2 opposite corners of each nussecke into the melted chocolate. Place dipped nussecken onto a cooling rack until chocolate has hardened.
Hint 1: Roll out the shortbread base as close to the pan dimensions as possible. Once you place the dough in the pan, it becomes challenging to spread out further. It's preferable to roll the dough rather than press it into the pan as it helps achieve a more uniform thickness.
Hint 2: Run a thin spatula or knife under the hardened chocolate corners before lifting the nussecken off the cooling rack. Otherwise the chocolate portion will stick and the bars will break as you try to remove them. I opted not to place the chocolate dipped nussecken on parchment paper to solidify as the extra chocolate pools at the base and makes a bit of a puddle.
While hazelnuts are the traditional topping, nussecken are also made with almonds, walnuts or pecans. Feel free to use one type of nut or a blend of several, like I've done here.
If you don't have a food processor or blender that can make nut meal from whole nuts, you can replace all of the almonds with almond meal or hazelnut meal (affiliate link.) Note that almond meal contains the skins, and is coarser than almond flour. Use a chef's knife to chop the hazelnuts into very small pieces.
If you'd like to try a different twist on nussecken, consider these alternatives:
- Jam flavor - While apricot jam is most commonly used, I imagine these would be very good with different jam flavors. Try cherry, strawberry, raspberry, plum or peach jam.
- Dipped edges - Instead of dipping two corners into chocolate ganache, dip the three straight edges into the ganache (so that just the sides are covered) for a nut corner that's completely bordered with chocolate. This is often how nussecken are prepared in German bakeries.
- Rum spiked - While I chose to use water for the nut topping, some recipes use rum instead. Feel free to replace the water with an equal amount of dark rum, which has molasses and caramel notes, and a smoky-sweet flavor.
- Bakery sized - Nussecken in bakeries are much larger - about the size of your palm! If you prefer, you can cut these bars into a grid of 3 x 4 rather than 4 x 8. You will have 12 rectangles that can be cut diagonally into 24 large triangles.
- Drizzled chocolate - Don't have time to dip the ends of the nut corners into the melted chocolate? Place the melted chocolate into a pastry bag or zippered bag and cut a small hole at the end. Place the nussecken on a cookie rack over a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle the chocolate in a zig zag design over the cookies and let set. If desired, sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt before chocolate hardens.
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Jelly roll pan - A jelly roll pan measures 15 x 10 x 1 inch (38 x 25 x 2.5 centimeters). You can often find this size of pan quite affordably in grocery and department store kitchen sections, although they are often store brands and somewhat cheaper quality.
If you don't have a jelly roll pan, you can substitute a 9 x 13 baking pan (like you'd use for sheet cake or brownies, not the gold sheet pan pictured below. The brownie baking pan has 2.25 inch tall sides that can accommodate the increase in bar cookie height that will result from a smaller pan size. You may need to increase the baking time by a few minutes.
Food processor - A food processor makes fast work of potentially tedious jobs like finely chopping nuts. I've had a similar model to this food processor for years and use it all the time for kitchen tasks.
Parchment paper - Parchment is great for lining baking pans. One roll of this 15 inch x 164 foot (38 centimeter x 50 meter) non-stick paper lasts a LONG time! If you have access to a Costco store, the price is often a bit better.
Mini offset spatula - A mini offset spatula makes spreading the jam and nut layers much easier. It's also an indispensable tool for frosting cakes and spreading ganache.
Store: Store these nut corners at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Freeze: Store leftover cookies in the freezer for up to a month in a large freezer bag or airtight container. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before serving. Note that the chocolate dipped corners may change in taste and texture if the chocolate blooms. You can read more about freezing chocolate here. Ideally, cookies should be stored without the corners dipped.
Nussecken are German bar cookies. Nussecken directly translates to nut corners. Nuss is German for nut. Ecken translates to corners. A single nut corner is a nussecke. They are also sometimes called nut triangles, German nut bars or hazelnut triangles.
Nussecken pronunciation: NOOS-eh-ken.
The nuts are fine to use raw. However, roasting the hazelnuts and almonds prior to baking will help improve their flavor. Roasting bring out additional sweetness and mellows bitterness.
To roast the nuts, bake them on a rimmed sheet pan at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes, stirring the nuts every 5 minutes. Don't get distracted - stay nearby and keep a close eye on them. You don't want to burn expensive ingredients!
Nussecken (German nut corners)Print Recipe Pin Recipe
SHORTCRUST PASTRY BASE
- 168 grams (12 Tablespoons, 1½ sticks) unsalted butter
- 125 grams (½ cup + 2 Tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 300 grams (2½ cups) all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 140 grams (7 Tablespoons) apricot jam
NUT LAYER AND CHOCOLATE GLAZE
- 196 grams (14 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 200 grams (1 cup) brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
- 62 mL (¼ cup) water
- 200 grams (1⅔ cups) almonds
- 200 grams (1½ cups) hazelnuts
- 170 grams (6 ounces, 1 cup) dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used a 72% chocolate bar)
ROASTING THE NUTS
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177° Celsius, Gas mark 4) with rack in center of oven. Spread the nuts onto a rimmed sheet pan. Roast for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Nuts will have a toasted smell and begin to turn golden brown. Keep an eye on this process - you don't want to burn expensive ingredients!! Set aside to cool. Keep oven on.
SHORTCRUST PASTRY BASE
- Line the base of a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan (or 9 x 13 x 2 inch pan, if you don't have a jelly roll pan) with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add flour, salt and baking powder. Mix on medium low speed until mixture resembles fine sand. Scrape down the bowl several times to ensure no large pieces of butter remain.
- Add eggs. Mix on low speed just until mixture comes together. Do not over mix.
- Gather dough into a flat rectangle.
- Roll out the dough between two large pieces of parchment paper (or a lightly floured surface, if you don't have parchment). You want it to be as close to 10 x 15 inches (or the dimensions of your pan) as possible. If needed, use a knife or bench scraper to help push the dough into shape. Peel the parchment off of the top, and then replace. Flip the dough over while still sandwiched between parchment layers. Peel off the second parchment layer and discard.
- Carefully flip the dough into the parchment lined pan. Gently press the dough down into the pan to remove any air pockets. If needed, use a small rolling pin or the side of a small bottle to roll the dough so that it extends to the edges and corners. Use a fork to prick holes in the dough to avoid air bubbles while baking.
- Spread dough evenly with apricot jam. Place pan in refrigerator to chill while you make the nut topping.
- Place an empty half sheet pan on oven rack to preheat (oven should already be 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This will serve as a drip pan to catch any topping that bubbles over the jelly roll pan edges. Preheating it will ensure the bottom shortbread layer browns enough.
NUT LAYER AND CHOCOLATE GLAZE
- To 3 quart saucepan, add butter, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and water. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until ingredients are melted. Do not boil. Set aside to cool down.
- To a food processor, add the almonds and hazelnuts. Pulse until finely ground. The mixture should be a combination of ground nuts (like nut flour) and very small pieces of nuts.
- Add nuts to melted butter mixture (it's ok if it's still lukewarm, but should not be hot) and stir to combine well. Pour nut mixture on top of jam layer. Using a mini offset spatula or spoon, spread the nut mixture into an even layer, ensuring it extends to the edges and corners of the pan.
- Place pan into oven directly on top of preheated sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes, until bars are golden brown on top and edges are caramelized and bubbly. Cool in pan, then carefully slide bars out on parchment paper base.
- Place bars on a cutting board. Using a long chef's knife, cut the pan of nussecken into 32 rectangular bars (divide into 4 on the short side, divide into 8 on the long side). Separate the rectangles and cut each nussecke in half on the diagonal so that you have 64 triangle shaped bars.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a cooling rack on top. Set aside.
- In the top of a double boiler (or a heatproof glass or metal bowl that fits snugly over a small pot of simmering water), melt chopped chocolate, stirring frequently. Turn off heat, but leave chocolate over water to keep warm.
- Dip one of the long pointed corners of the nussecke into the melted chocolate. Gently shake the extra chocolate back into the bowl. (I find this method easiest: hold the chocolate dipped nut corner in one hand, and use the other hand in a fist to pound on the wrist of your cookie-holding hand to shake the excess chocolate off). Place dipped nussecken onto the cooling rack until chocolate has hardened.
- Run a thin metal spatula (or knife) under each nussecke to loosen chocolate from the cooling rack. Don't try to lift them off without this step or the corners will stick and the nussecken will break. Place on a cookie platter and serve!
The Floured Table
Recipe Author: Kathleen Culver
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