Category Archives: Uncategorized

warm Lebkuchen with icing

German Spice Cookies: Lebkuchen with Icing

This holiday season, my mom and I baked up a batch of these Lebkuchen ~ traditional German Christmas cookies that taste like gingerbread, but surprisingly have NO ginger in them! (Is that a fair description, Oliver?)

finished German spice cookie
yummy cookie!

The cookie recipe we tried was actually one that she received from Viking River Cruises (I guess mom’s on that mailing list).

They Lebkuchen cookies were chewy and certainly extremely spicy and rich. Definitely to be enjoyed with an English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea, or perhaps a light German beer like Paulaner or Spaten.

The ingredients and steps are fairly straightforward, but be warned that you need to plan ahead because the dough is to be chilled overnight. Have fun!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
(We didn’t end up having enough honey so we added more molasses to make up 1 cup of these two ingredients ~ 1 to 1 substitution)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 + 3/4 cup flour (plus more for dusting)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg

German spice cookies ingredients
German spice cookies ingredients

The recipe then also calls for 1/3 cup of candied citron and 1/3 cup of hazelnuts ~ We omitted both of these.

Okay, side note here: I did not know what citron was…I assumed it was candied lemon peel. Ooops. No. It is not. It is a fruit unto itself. There are different varietals and guess what one of them is? Etrog!!! As in Lulav and Etrog! (Staples in the Sukkot holiday for my non-Jewish friends.) So that’s a fun factoid for ya! Here’s a recipe for making your own candied citron.

To make the icing, you will need:
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of milk (or water)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of powdered sugar

To Make:
1. Bring honey and molasses to a boil and then remove from heat


2. Stir in the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and zest
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the 2 + 3/4 cup flour, baking soda, and spices
4. Stir the molasses mixture into the flour mixture (also this is when you would add the candied citron and chopped hazelnuts)


5. Cover & chill overnight

Next day:
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
7. Roll out a bit of your dough on a floured surface until about a 1/4 inch thick, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky
8. Use a cookie cutter or clean glass to cut circular cookies out of the dough [Repeat #7 and #8 with the rest of the dough]


9. Move the cookies to the baking sheets and cook for 10-12 minutes
10. Transfer the cookies to a rack for cooling and brush with icing while still warm
11. Decorate with almonds, candied citron or crystallized ginger

While the cookies are baking, make the icing as follows:
1. Heat sugar, milk (or water) and vanilla on the stove but do not boil


2. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar
3. Reheat as needed to maintain the liquid state as you brush it over the top of the warm cookies

 

Holiday Ginger Snap Cookies

I love baking seasonally-inspired cookies around the winter holidays. Recently, I’ve made gingerbread men and speculoos cookies (a Belgian and Dutch ginger-graham cookie, like the kind they serve on Delta).

The warm flavors of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg play well together and the quantities can be tweaked to really make one pop. One of my favorite cookies to buy and eat (all year round) are crunchy ginger snaps. More crispy and gingery than gingerbread, ginger snaps are a relatively low cal cookie (relatively, they’re still cookies). And my mom says that if you are craving chocolate, eating ginger can satiate the craving instead!

Also, I am obsessed with molasses. I think it is delicious, so I added a bit more than the original recipe called for. I know they say baking is a science and each ingredient must be properly measured. And that’s probably true for the main ingredients that make the base of the cookie – flour, egg, butter and sugar. But I like to play around with the measurements of the other ingredients, like ginger, salt and molasses, to see what textures and flavors different quantities will bring out. I’m really not precious in measuring the spices uber precisely. It doesn’t always make for the prettiest, most perfect cookies, but 9 times out of 10 they are still extremely yummy!

I found a base recipe on finecooking.com. Below find my adjusted recipe based on the ingredients I had on hand and my experience in recreating a seasonally-appropriate ginger snap. Cozy up with some tea and start dunking!

 

In a medium bowl, whisk together:

1 & 2/3 cup flour

1 & ½ tsp ginger (I love ginger so I used 2 tsp…also easier to measure because you only have to use a 1 tsp spoon!)

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp salt (I used sea salt to get a little bit bigger grain because I enjoy biting into a cookie and getting a little salt crunch from time to time. You can also use finer salt if you don’t like that experience.)

¼ tsp black pepper

1 & ¼ tsp baking powder (The original recipe called for ½ tsp baking soda, which I didn’t have, so I subbed 1 tsp baking powder; baking soda is about 3-4x more potent than baking powder so you need more baking powder if you’re going to substitute, but if you use the full 3-4x your baked goods may come out a little bitter.)

In the stand mixer, fitted with the paddle, mix on medium:

½ cup butter (Unsalted because you’re already adding chunky salt. Remember, the butter should be at room temperature for easier mixing.)

¾ cup light brown sugar (The original recipe called for dark brown sugar, which I didn’t have, so I subbed light brown and added a smidge more molasses.)

Mix this for about 3 minutes until the batter is smooth and light-colored.

Then add: 1 egg yolk (also at room temperature) and 3+ tablespoons of molasses. Mix for one minute more.

With the mixer going at medium-slow, add the dry ingredients in 3-4 pours. Mix until rough pebbles form.

Dump/scrape out the dough onto an UNfloured work surface:

Knead and shape (the dough isn’t moist enough to really roll so just form it with your hands, gently pressing it together) into two 7-8 inch long logs about 1.5-2 inches in wide. They may turn about a bit square from sitting on a flat surface as you work the dough into the sticks. Then wrap them in plastic or plastic baggies. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

When you’re ready to make the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 2 large cookie trays with parchment paper.

Use a long, sharp, NON-serrated knife to slice the log into ¼ inch rounds or even thinner if you can manage. (The original recipe called for 3/16 thick rounds and my mind couldn’t wrap itself around how I was going to measure that, so I just sliced as thin as possible for crisp cookies.)

Place the rounds on the sheets. They don’t spread much and if you’ve cut them thinly, they won’t rise much either.

At this point, I would sprinkle some sugar on the tops of the cookies and gently press it into the dough. I didn’t do that this time around, but that would be a lovely addition.

As you can see, this recipe can make about 100 silver dollar-sized cookies.

Bake one sheet at a time for 10 minutes until edges are slightly darker brown than the middles. I would start with 9 minutes and give them a check depending on how thinly you’ve sliced them and how large they are. Add additional minutes for crisper cookies, but be sure not to burn them!

Let the cookies cool about 15 minutes on the sheets to set up and then gently twist and pull each one by hand to remove them from the pan. Allow them to fully cool on a wire rack (or let’s, be honest, on a plate if you don’t have a rack). Normally, I would scarf down some piping hot cookies, however these are actually one cookie that is better fully cooled to get the true ginger flavor and a bit more crunch. Pour that Earl Grey or coffee with cinnamon and enjoy!

tea and cookies