Lebkuchen cookies are wunderbar! Warm gingerbread spices meet soft cakey dough and delicate frosting. A German gem that’ll make your holiday party special!
Lebkuchen are seriously to die for. The moist, chewy texture is unbelievable — enter soft cookie nirvana! And there is no under spiced, lackluster “is this gingerbread?” confusion to be found anywhere. The warm gingerbread spices achieve perfect harmony.
On the aesthetic side, the beautifully smooth glaze and adorable little flower pattern of almonds makes this Lebkuchen recipe pretty enough to frame. And the lovely presentation is so easy to achieve! You’ll put your primary commercial competition, lebkuchenschmidt, to shame in no time.
It is no surprise that these cookies evolve from what the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians considered the food of the gods, or that they were popularized by Catholic friars in the Middle Ages! There is somewhat of a divine flavor about them. If you are in need of a similarly gorgeous and addictive recipe this holiday season, give my Christmas Crack a try.
WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT THIS RECIPE:
- The soft texture is beyond incredible!
- I love cookies that take a little more TLC to create; it makes them that much more special.
- Lebkuchen is gingerbread that people actually devour!
- It’s nice to include delicacies from other cultures in your Christmas spread.
SAVE THIS LEBKUCHEN COOKIE RECIPE
TO YOUR COOKIE BOARD FOR LATER
What is Lebkuchen?
Lebkuchen — also known as Lebkuchen Nuremberg or Nurnberger Lebkuchen after the city most famous for exporting them — are German gingerbread cookies on steroids. They contain gingerbread spices and molasses or honey, and come with a light delicate frosting. Lebkuchen are known for their soft, cakey texture.
Check out this Lebkuchen Schmidt article on the rich history of this fine cookie to learn how a gift from the gods became a treat in German monasteries for Lent.
What Ingredients Do You Need To Make Lebkuchen?
The dough of this traditional Lebkuchen recipe is made deliciously soft by dark brown sugar, vegetable shortening, white vinegar, unsulfured molasses, and heavy cream. It also uses the standard all purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. Lebkuchen cookies make use of the traditional Christmas baking spices: allspice, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, and ground nutmeg.
In addition to these common ingredients, a few less familiar elements are also needed. Make sure to pick up almond flour, blanched whole almonds, candied orange peel, and candied lemon peel to achieve that special German Christmas food vibe! The cookies are finished with a glaze made from confectioner’s sugar and whole milk.
How Do You Make Lebkuchen?
Lebkuchen recipes are made the way most cookies are: you mix the dough, shape the cookies, bake, cool, then decorate. Unlike your standard chocolate chip cookie, however, plan to spend a little extra time and care decorating these with almonds. Also, be sure to turn the baking sheets halfway through baking.
The dough requires a little extra work as well, but I assure you it is worth the effort! The dough is put together in four stages using three bowls. First you thicken the cream with vinegar, then you blend the dry ingredients. Next you beat the sugar and shortening, and lastly you mix in the cream and dry ingredients.
Step By Step: How To Make Lebkuchen
1. Preheat oven then line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. In a small bowl, add vinegar and cream.
2. Mix and let it sit until thickened.
3. In a separate bowl mix: flour, almond flour, candied orange, and lemon peels, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Mix.
4. In a mixing bowl, add brown sugar, shortening, and molasses.
5. Cream together until mixture is light and fluffy.
6. Pour in thickened cream and mix until smooth.
7. Add flour mixture gradually.
8. Beat at low speed until just combined.
9. Scoop the dough using 1/4 cookie scoop onto prepared baking sheets, 3 inches apart. Arrange 3 almonds in a star pattern on top of each cookie.
10. Slightly flatten the cookies with your hand gently.
11. Bake the cookies until lightly brown. Let it cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes and transfer it to a wired rack to cool completely.
12. When it’s completely cool, make the glaze. Add confectioners sugar and milk to a bowl, whisk until smooth.
13. Dip the tops of each cookie into the glaze. Place it on the wire rack to allow the glaze to set. (complete instructions below)
- 1 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
- 4 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Cup Almond Flour
- 1/4 Cup Minced Candied Orange Peel
- 1/4 Cup Minced Candied Lemon Peel
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cloves
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Allspice
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Shortening At Room Temperature
- 1/2 Cup Unsulfured Molasses
- 1/3 Cup Blanched Whole Almonds
- 2 1/2 Cups Confectioners Sugar Sifted
- 5 Tablespoons Whole Milk
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment; set aside.
- Mix cream and vinegar in a small bowl and let sit until thickened, about 30 minutes.
- Whisk together the all-purpose flour with the almond flour, candied orange and lemon peels, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt, in a medium mixing bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the brown sugar, shortening, and molasses on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Pour in thickened cream and mix until smooth.
- Gradually add the flour mixture, and beat on low speed, until just combined.
- Using a 1/4 cookie scoop shape the dough into mounds, placing on prepared baking sheets, 3 inches apart. Arrange 3 whole almonds in a star pattern on the top of each cookie. Gently, slightly flatten the cookies with your hand.
- Bake the cookies in the preheated oven, until lightly brown, about 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes, then remove them to a wired rack to cool completely.
- When cookies are completely cool, make the glaze. Add confectioners sugar and milk to a small mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Dip the tops of each cookie into the glaze, allowing excess to drip off, then set on a wire rack to allow the glaze to set.
Recipe Notes For Lebkuchen:
Presentation: If you want to get a little creative, you can make Lebkuchen hearts by spending a few extra minutes shaping the dough. Hearts are a classic form for Lebkuchen. Remember to gently flatten the dough before baking no matter what shape you choose.
Blanched almonds: Blanched almonds are just raw almonds with the skin removed. You can blanch raw almonds yourself by putting them in boiling water for one minute. After boiling just drain and rinse with cool water, and the skin should easily peel off.
Unsulfured molasses: Unsulfured molasses is made from mature sugar cane plants that have ripened naturally and don’t require the extra preservative of sulphur dioxide. Sulphured molasses is typically lighter in color, and doesn’t come with serious health risks. Check out the George Mateljan Foundation’s article on the subject for more information.
Candied fruit peels: Candied orange and lemon peels should be readily available at a grocer near you, but if you prefer to DIY, you can! Just cut the peels into quarter inch strips, and boil them for about twenty minutes. Rinse and drain. While the peels are boiling, mix equal parts sugar and water (about two cups each), and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the peels and simmer for close to an hour. Lay the peels out to dry. Leftovers can be frozen for several months!
Nurnberg vs. Nuremberg: In case you were confused by this nomenclature, I’ll save you the trouble of Googling! Nuremberg is the English version of the name of the German city Nurnberg.
Can You Make Lebkuchen Ahead Of Time
Another amazing perk of this Nürnberger Lebkuchen recipe is that it can be made months in advance. However, to guarantee a nice texture, I would advise you to plan to consume them within a few weeks. In a pinch, though, you can store them for several months in a cool, dry place (and in an airtight container of course!)
How Do You Freeze Lebkuchen?
This easy Lebkuchen recipe is simple to freeze. Just place the cookies in an airtight bag or container, separating layers with wax paper, and plop them in the freezer. You can keep them there for many months; just be sure to defrost slowly and carefully to preserve the delicate texture!
More Christmas Cookies…
- Soft Batch Christmas M&Ms Cookies
- Godiva Peppermint Cookies
- Mickey and Minnie Swirl Cookies
- Double Chocolate Snowballs
- No Chill Sugar Cookies
- Peppermint Candy Cane Kiss Cookies
- Butter Pecan Cookies
Source: Adapted From Food and Wine