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  • Writer's pictureBarth Bakery

Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread Spice Cookies)

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

Dating back to the 14th century, Lebkuchen are one of Germany’s most popular and beloved Christmas treats. Although there are many variations of Lebkuchen, all contain honey and a variety of nuts and flavorful spices. The most common are the Nürnberger Elisenlebkuchen (originating in the town of Nuremberg), which use a high ratio of almonds and hazelnuts in place of flour. These traditional German gingerbread cookies have a soft and moist interior full of warming spices and candied citrus fruits and are topped with a chocolate or sugar glaze.

Soft German Gingerbread Spice Cookies (Lebkuchen)
Spiced German Gingerbread Cookies (Lebkuchen)
Traditional German Gingerbread Spice Cookies (Lebkuchen)

Makes 24 cookies


German Gingerbread Spice

  • 2½ Tbsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp ground cloves

  • ½ tsp ground allspice

  • ½ tsp ground coriander

  • ½ tsp ground cardamom

  • ½ tsp ground ginger

  • ½ tsp ground star anise

  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg

  • ¼ tsp ground mace

Spice Cookies

  • ⅓ cup candied orange peel

  • ⅓ cup candied lemon peel

  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

  • 1½ cups almonds, whole

  • 1½ cups hazelnuts, whole

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar

  • 2 Tbsp honey

  • ¾ tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 2½ tsp gingerbread spice

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp baking powder

  • Whole blanched almonds for decorating

Chocolate Glaze

  • 5 oz quality bittersweet chocolate

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil

Sugar Glaze

  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar

  • 2 Tbsp milk


German Gingerbread Spice

  1. Combine all spices in a small bowl and stir or whisk together until thoroughly combined.

Spice Cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, toss the candied lemon and orange peel in the all-purpose flour to prevent them from sticking together.

  3. Place the whole almonds and hazelnuts into a food processor and pulse until the mixture is ground to a flour. Add the candied lemon and orange peels and pulse until loose and coarsely grated. (The texture doesn't have to be super finely ground, but there shouldn’t be any large chunks of nuts remaining.)

  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the eggs, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla. Beath on medium speed until creamy and well combined.

  5. Add the gingerbread spice, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and the contents from the food processor into the egg mixture in small increments and mix until well combined.

  6. Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons and place about 2-inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets and use a spoon or your fingers to gently smooth the tops and sides into flattened circles.

  7. Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned but still slightly soft to the touch. (The cookies will harden up a bit as they cool.)

  8. Remove the cookies from the parchment paper and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze

  1. Place the chocolate and oil in a small bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals until melted, stirring in between each 30 second interval. Use immediately. If the glaze becomes firm, reheat in the microwave.

  2. Once the cookies are completely cool, dip the tops of the spice cookies into the glaze, then place back onto the cooling rack for the glaze to harden.

Sugar Glaze

  1. Place the sugar and milk in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth.

  2. Once the cookies are completely cool, dip the tops of the spice cookies into the glaze, then place back onto the cooling rack for the glaze to harden.

Germany is famous for its Christmas cookies, many of which are very old and have been passed down over generations. These popular, traditional cookies can be found all over homes and iconic outdoor Christmas markets in November and December.

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