December 21, 2014

Lebkuchen Cookies or Gingerbread Cookies

On the Menu Today~
Lebkuchen Cookies or
Gingerbread Cookies

Nüremberg Lebkuchen is very popular in Germany around Christmas time.
A spicy gingerbread, that goes well with coffee, tea and Glüdwein.
These soft, spicy, gingerbread cookies keep for several weeks.
There are many regional variations of the Lebkuchen, but the most well known is:
Nürnberger Lebkuchen from the city of Nüremberg.

Most common ingredients in Lebkuchen include:
honey, flour, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, cloves, anise, cardamom, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, ground almonds, candied lemon and orange peel.

Nürnberger Lebkuchen or gingerbread has been around since the 14th century.
Lebkucken, also called Pfefferkuchen, is German gingerbread.
Lebkuchen are either rectangle or round.
They have a sweet, light, nutty taste and their aroma is spicy, a bit like nutmeg and allspice.
They are usually soft with a slight crunch from the nuts and glaze.

Types of Lebkuchen~

Oblaten Lebkuchen~
"Oblaten" are thin wafers. Oblaten Lebkuchen
are baked on these thin Oblaten wafers.
Originally this was done to prevent the cookie
from sticking to the cookie sheet

"Oblaten" wafers which may serve as the bottoms of any cookie,
look like Catholic Communion wafers, are actually made in the same manner
These thin, crisp, edible wafers can be purchased all over Germany, and at
American German Deli Markets or online at: Bavaria Sausage Inc.

Elisen Lebkuchen~
These are the highest quality Oblaten Lebkuchen available.
They must have at least 25% almonds,
hazelnuts, or walnuts (no other kind of nuts are allowed).
Likewise, they must contain no more than 10 % flour

Nürnberger Lebkuchen
These are Lebkuchen that are baked in the city of Nürnberg, and
are worldwide the most well known.
They are often baked on Oblaten (thin wafers), and
they are known for their light, soft texture.
Marzipan is often an ingredient of these cookies

Types of Lebkuchen~

These are Lebkuchen onto which a picture is drawn or imprinted

Brown (Braune) Lebkuchen~
These cookies are made from a honey or syrup dough.
The dough is either molded, cut or formed and
is baked without Oblaten.
The baked cookies are often covered with a sugar glaze or chocolate

White (Weisse) Lebkuchen~
These cookies get their name from their very light color.
The color comes from a high amount of whole eggs and/or
egg whites in the dough.
They are usually decorated with
almonds and/or candied lemon and orange peels

Lebkuchen (Gingerbread) Cookies

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon Lebkuchengewurz spice, recipe follows
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 3/4 cup finely ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup candied lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur or brandy
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped, soaked in 1/3 cup brandy, optional
  • Extras: 32 Oblaten (baking wafers) 3-inch size
Cooking Directions:
  1. Cream butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in flour, spices, cocoa powder and baking powder, alternating with milk.
  3. Fold in ground almonds and lemon peel. Stir in liqueur or brandy. Stir in raisins, if using.
  4. Line baking sheet with Oblaten or draw 3-inch diameter circles on parchment paper using a cup or biscuit cutter as a template. Drop about 3 tablespoons cookie dough into the center of each circle. If you are using "Oblaten" drop the dough onto the wafer and smooth to the edges.
  5. When baking sheet is full, use the back of a spoon to fill out the circle. Slightly mounding the dough towards the center. 
  6. Bake at 375º for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn down oven to 350º if cookies are browning to fast. Let cool for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.
While cookies are still warm, make glaze.

Lebkuchengewurz Spice

  • 5 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients together.
  2. Store in an air-tight container.

Vanilla Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

  1. Place sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Add vanilla and brandy. Sift powdered sugar over the hot sugar syrup and stir. Using a pastry brush, brush warm glaze over warm cookies. Let dry completely. 
  2. Store in an airtight container or freeze cookies

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Heat sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 1-quart saucepan over medium high heat. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves. Pour mixture over chocolate chips. Let sit for 1 minute. Stir until glaze is shiny and chocolate is melted. Brush glaze over Lebkuchen. Dry glazed cookies until set
  2. Store in an airtight container or freeze cookies
Gingerbread, Cookies, Lebkuchen, German, ChristmasGermany

*See Note~*Spices*
Lebkuchen call for the use of several different spices.
If you live near a store that sells spices by the bulk such as Bulk Priced Food Shoppe,
I would suggest buying just the amounts of spices you will need.
You can purchase bulk spices for as little as .10¢ per teaspoon.

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