Literally translated lebkuchen means “lively cake.” The many spices give this traditional German Christmas cookie its lively flavor; the honey gives it the characteristic texture and keeping qualities. Since lebkuchens improve with age, make them 3-4 days before serving.
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Lebkuchen - German Spice Cookies with Almonds
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2 Tbsp. molasses
- 2 tsp water
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 2 tsp grated orange zest
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
- 6 dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 cup blanched almonds for the top
- For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 Tbsp. whole milk
- 3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, cloves, cardamom, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, brown sugar, honey, molasses, water, orange extract, orange zest, and lemon zest, until smooth. Add candied ginger, ground almonds and dates, blending until evenly distributed. Gradually stir in flour mixture until dough comes together. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill overnight or until it is stiff enough to roll.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1/2-inch thick. Shape the cookies with a 2-inch cookie cutter. Arrange cookies about 1 inch apart on baking sheets.
Lightly press tree blanched almonds into each cookie with tips towards the center to create a flower pattern.
Bake in preheated to 350 F° oven until cookies begin to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, whisk confectioners' sugar, milk, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest in a bowl until glaze is smooth. Brush warm cookies with glaze and allow cookies to cool completely. Cool and store airtight 3 or 4 days before eating.
To make the blanched almonds, cover almonds with boiling water in a bowl. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes and drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Pat almonds dry and remove skin. Allow almonds to dry on paper towels.