This is a traditional spice cookie that you often see at Christmas. It a German cookie and I’ve found my American cookbooks to be fairly lacking in recipes for Lebkuchen. I’ve purchased Lebkuchen and really liked the ones I’ve bought, which are soft and cake-like. This recipe comes from a cookbook with a German author and was originally published in Germany, so I had high hopes for this recipe.
I didn’t have the candied orange and lemon peel that the recipe called for, so I substituted a little diced candied ginger. I’m not sure this was quite the right substitution, but you’ll never know unless you try!
This is a bit of an odd recipe, in that you form the cookies and then let them sit out and dry for 12 hours before baking them. Really, that’s what it says to do. I have no idea if this is common practice with Lebkuchen, but I followed the instructions as written.
These are really dry cookies, not cake-like at all. I guess I knew that they wouldn’t be too light, since they contained 2 cups of ground hazelnuts. I don’t even think that the spices come forward all that much, which is the key component of the cookies that I’ve liked in the past. Well, this was another try and it looks like my search for Lebkuchen will continue. (Isn't this a pretty plate? It was a Christmas gift from a great friend.)
1-1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
½ cup chopped almonds
2 cups ground hazelnuts
1/3 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Cream together the eggs and the brown sugar. Add the flour, chopped almonds, ground hazelnuts, candied ginger, cinnamon, baking powder and remaining spices. Mix until completely combined.
Place 2 teaspoon-sized rounds on waxed paper. Moisten your fingers with water and press mounds into shape. (I found that they lost their shape after I worked with them, so you could probably skip this step.) Let the cookies dry for 12 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place cookie dough on baking sheets lined with silicone baking mats. (I had better luck shaping the dough into mounds at this time.) Bake for 18 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice together to make a thin glaze. Glaze the cookies with the lemon icing.
Adapted from Christmas Cookies by Gina Greifenstein