Lebkuchen is a traditional German cake or cookie. This fruit and nut laden gingerbread was originally baked by monks in Nuremberg starting in 1289. Monks place the dough on communion wafers, to prevent it from sticking to the cooking surface. Today a substitute wafer, called an Oblate, is used.
I bought Lebkuchen for the first time, mostly because I loved the festive tin. But I loved the cookies! When I went to get more, I was shocked. I hadn’t looked at my receipt from my first grocery purchase. This stuff is very expensive, so I learned how to make them.
This year, I was asked to make gluten free holiday cookies and I remember that Lebkuchen has a gluten-free sister, called Elisen-lebkuchen. Luckily, this version uses parchment paper instead of the dry, lifeless, and difficult-to-find, Oblate wafer.
Many of this cookie’s ingredients are readily available in grocery stores now. Almond and hazelnut flours can be found easily, or you can grind whole nuts. Candied citrus is difficult to find in stores. There are a few recipes on the internet for making your own candied citrus. I prefer to purchase the candied lemon and orange peel through Amazon prime.
Use whole spices for the cloves, star anise and coriander if you can. Star anise can be usually be found in the international section.
Cookie Spice blend:
3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon – Yes 3 TABLESPOONS
½ teaspoon ground star anise, or 1 whole star anise, ground (or ¾ teaspoon ground anise seed, but star anise is preferable for taste)
1 ½ Tablespoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves or 6 whole cloves, ground
2 teaspoons ground mace
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 cup sugar
7/8 cup, equal parts candied lemon and orange peel (usually sold in separate containers)
1/8 cup candied ginger (To make a full cup of candied fruits.)
1 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
1 cup ground hazelnuts (hazelnut flour)
4 teaspoons Cookie spice blend from above
2 teaspoons water
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
Blanched almonds, optional
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons butter
Mix the spice blend use a grinder for whole spices and add all pre-ground spices to the grinder, to thoroughly mix. I use my ninja.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper.
Measure out the nut flours, sugar, spice blend and eggs into a bowl. Finely chop all candied citrus and ginger with a heavy knife. Use a food processor for the fruits, if you want the cookies very smooth. Mix together with the nut flour and egg mixture.
Drop 2 tablespoons of batter directly onto the parchment paper for each cookie. Parchment paper is essential for these cookies. Gently push down the batter with wet fingers or wet spatula to form a dome.
Bake 20 – 25 minutes. The cookies should be golden brown, or a little darker if you want the centers firmer. Let the cookies cool completely. Push the spatula down firmly when scraping the cookies off the parchment paper.
While the cookies cool, mixed together the powdered sugar and water in a bowl.
For chocolate glaze, place chocolate and butter in microwavable bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, mixing butter into the melting chocolate. Repeat until all the chocolate is melted. Do not overcook, or the chocolate will become chalky.
If decorating with almonds, gently push almonds into the cookie before glazing with sugar or chocolate.
Allow the glaze to dry before serving. Cookies can be stores for a week in an airtight container.