I don't celebrate Christmas, but I do celebrate cookies. And cookies are a big part of the Christmas season.
And so -- cookies.
When it comes to cookies, Lebkuchen is a seasonal special, with the magical fragrance of spices that make you feel warm and cozy when the weather's cold. I have tasted many many versions over the years, the best on a trip to Germany a few years ago.
So I tried my hand at baking some, a few recipes that were just okay. Then I baked these. My Hungarian friend Eva says they taste like "home." I took that as a win.
Happy holidays, whatever one you celebrate.
Lebkuchen Gingerbread Cookies
- 3 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange peel
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or shortening or butter)
- 1 tablespoon orange juice (or use lemon juice)
- 1 large egg
- all-purpose flour
- candied ginger, dried cranberries, etc, optional
Combine the flour, orange peel, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl (or electric mixer bowl), whisk to distribute the ingredients evenly and set aside. Place the honey, molasses, brown sugar and coconut oil in a saucepan and cook over low-medium heat, stirring to blend the ingredients, until the coconut oil has melted and the liquid is smooth and evenly colored. Pour the liquid into the mixing bowl with the flour mixture. Add the orange juice and egg and mix ingredients thoroughly to make a smooth, evenly colored dough (about one minute at medium speed). The dough will be soft. Sprinkle the dough with some flour, wrap the dough or place it in a covered plastic container and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough (in portions) on a floured surface to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out shapes. Place the shapes on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving some space between the cookies. Garnish the center with optional ginger, etc., if desired. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove the cookies from the oven and brush with icing while they are still warm.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare the icing while the cookies are baking. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and cook, stirring to dissolve the sugar, for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Brush on the cookies while they are still warm.
Makes about 3-1/2 dozen 2-inch cookies