There isn’t anything quite like the holidays to elicit strong memories revolved around the kitchen. It could be turkey and the fixings or, my personal favorite, the seasonal sweets. With my Czech heritage, I grew up with “Little Cakes” (cookies filled with apricot preserve) and Kolaczki (bread cinnamon-roll-style with either nuts or poppyseeds) that my nana would lovingly make.
I started my love affair with baking the year after my husband and I got married. In the beginning, I was excited to learn the classics (chocolate chip cookies, brownies, chocolate cake), but it didn’t take long for me to be drawn to the obscure, unique, or challenging recipes…don’t attempt Boston Cream Pie as a novice, just trust me.
When the holidays rolled around, I was looking for something new to bring to a Christmas party and just happened upon a recipe for Lebkuchen, a German Christmas cookie. It is similar to gingerbread cookies but unique onto itself with flavors of honey, molasses, and nutmeg. I love this cookie, because it is somehow both familiar and totally new. The prep time is minimal, and what kid doesn’t love helping with a cookie cutter? It is a little more involved than you basic chocolate chip cookie, but can still be easily whipped together in a little over an hour.
So when you’re looking for something new for the holidays, but don’t want to go too far out on limb, give this yummy, spicy cookie a chance. Who knows, maybe it’ll become a tradition of your own.
Lebkuchen (German Christmas cookie)
- 3 cups All Purpose Flour (I’m gluten-free so I use Cup4Cup)
- 1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated is best!)
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 1 egg
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ cup molasses
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and allspice.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with hand held mixer), beat together the egg and brown sugar until thoroughly combined and begins to lighten in color, approximately 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the honey and molasses and beat until thoroughly combined.
Add the flour mixture and beat together on a low speed until all the flour is absorbed. The dough will be sticky and dense. Scrape out the dough onto a well floured surface and kneed the dough, adding flour as needed.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Split the dough in half, making two discs. Wrap the discs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, or if you don’t mind working with slightly sticky dough go ahead and begin rolling it out. Working with one disc at a time on a very well floured surface, roll out the dough, turning a quarter turn after every roll (to prevent sticking), until the dough is ¼ inch thick. Dip your cookie cutter of choice in flour and then cut out your cookies. Kneed and roll out the scrapes until you’ve used all your dough.
Place your cut out cookies on a cookie pan lined with parchment paper and bake in center of the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, whisk together you confectioner’s sugar, water, and lemon juice. Once cookies are cool, drizzle the glaze over the cookies. Let the glaze set before devouring.