Lebkuchen is a traditional German Christmas cookie. It is a type of gingerbread made with a combination of nut and wheat flours – though I have seen recipes for using each alone. Higher quality lebkuchen has a higher percentage of nuts. Though lebkuchen was based on even earlier cookies, it was first introduced to Germany in the late thirteenth century. The cookies were very popular and eventually led to a league or guild of lebkuchen bakers. Today the cookies are easily available from commercial bakers. For more information on the history of lebkuchen, check out The German Food Guide, where I got this information.
Lebkuchen can be unglazed, glazed, or chocolate glazed, and they may be baked directly on a parchment lined cookie sheet, on oblaten, or on rice paper. These are glazed and chocolate glazed and baked on rice paper, and are amazingly good. This recipe is adapted from my mother-in-law’s recipe, but I don’t know where she got it, so if you recognize its origin, please let me know, so I can give credit to its original author. It was meant to taste like the cookies my husband’s grandparents sent him from Germany when he was young and does taste very close to high quality commercially produced lebkuchen.
Please follow the directions regarding baking and cooling! You absolutely must line your pan with parchment (A Silpat would probably work to, but I have not tried it.) And, you must line your cooling rack with parchment and use a silicon spatula. If the rice paper touches metal while it is hot, it will stick like glue. If you don’t want to take these steps, then please do not use the rice paper.
- 3/4 cup hazelnuts (3.5 oz)
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds (2.5 oz)
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup mild honey
- 1/2 stick (1/4cup) unsalted butter softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped candied citron
- 1/4 cup finely choppe candied orange peel
- zest of one lemon
- 4 (11.5 x 8.25) sheets edible rice paper, cut with scissors into 32 (2.5 inch) rounds (If you do not have rice paper, butter the cookie sheet and cook directly on the cookie sheet
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- Instead of the confectioners’ sugar and water, you can use 12 oz bittersweet chocolate and 1 Tbsp. butter for a chocolate glaze
- whole blanched almonds for decorating (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line two large cookie sheets with parchment. I use half sheet pans.
- Cover two large cooling racks with parchment.
- Finely grind nuts and the following eight ingredients in the food processor to make a nut flour and set aside.
- Mix together brown sugar, honey and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until creamy.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add nut flour 1/2 cup at a time with the mixer on low until just blended.
- Stir in candied fruit and lemon peel.
- Arrange rice paper rounds shiny side down on prepared cookie sheets. Roll level 2 tablespoon amounts of dough into balls. Flatten each ball over one round of rice paper. The cookies will spread a little as they bake, but not much.
- Decorate with whole almonds if desired.
- Bake cookies on two racks in the oven at the same time, switching position of sheets halfway through baking.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until the surface of the cookies is dry.
- Remove the cookies from the pan with a silicon spatula to the prepared racks and allow to cool completely.
- Stir together powdered sugar and water. Brush over the tops of cookies.
- Alternately, melt chocolate and butter and brush over tops of cookies.
- Allow to dry before serving.
This recipe was posted on Foodie Friends Friday.