Why I Love This Recipe
This traditional German Christmas cookie is one of our favorite holiday treats and are much sought after by many of my friends. Though very good when fresh, these spice cookies are even better if allowed to age a week or two.
Traditionally, lebkuchen (pronounced layb'koo'khen) are baked atop oblaten, German baking wafers, to keep them from sticking to the sheet pan. However, you can also use edible rice paper. Likewise, you can forgo the wafers/paper all together and simply line your sheet pans with parchment paper.
This recipe comes courtesy of Gourmet Magazine, Dec 2002.
Ingredients You'll Need
3/4 cup hazelnuts (3 1/2 oz)
3/4 cup sliced almonds (2 1/2 oz)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup mild honey
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped fine-quality mixed candied fruit such as citron, orange, and lemon
4 (11 1/2- by 8 1/4-inch) sheets edible rice paper, cut with scissors into 32 (2 1/2-inch) rounds (or equally sized oblaten).
2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons water
Finely grind nuts, flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a food processor to make nut flour.
Beat together brown sugar, honey, and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until creamy.
Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in nut flour at low speed until just blended, then stir in candied fruit.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Arrange rice-paper rounds, shiny sides down, on 2 large baking sheets. Roll level 2-tablespoon amounts of dough into balls with dampened hands, then put 1 on each paper round and flatten slightly (dough will spread to cover paper during baking).
Bake cookies in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until surface no longer appears wet, about 15 minutes total. Transfer to racks to cool.
Sift confectioners sugar into a bowl, then stir in water until smooth. Evenly brush tops of cooled cookies with icing. Let icing set, about 1 hour.
These cookies improve with age but icing will darken. If making ahead, do not ice until day of serving. Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper, in an airtight container 1 month.