Saturday, 22 December 2012

Say 'Merry Christmas' with Lebkuchen

Christmas provides a wonderful excuse to make delicious sweet treats to share with family and friends. Fruit mince pies, pavlovas, cream filled brandy snaps are some of the more traditional New Zealand offerings. BUT this year I wanted to try something different.

Lebkuchen are dark, spicy heart shaped cookies that are found throughout Germany. You'll usually see them hung from a ribbon with phrases such as 'Ich liebe dich' (I love you) and 'Frohe Weihnachten' (Merry Christmas) written on them with icing. 

This particular recipe comes from Marian Keyes' recipe book Saved by Cake (my new favourite!), so while not traditionally German, it produces something to convert you all the same.  

And this is a prime opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

100g butter
275g honey
100g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
0.5 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cloves, bashed
1 star anise
6 cardamom pods, bashed
2.5 tablespoons cocoa powder

600g plain flour (I used a little less than 600g of flour and still the mixture was too dry. I'd recommend a lot less flour- maybe 500g?)
pinch of salt
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg

In a saucepan, heat the butter, honey sugar, spices and cocoa powder gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Be careful not to let it burn.

Take it off the heat and allow to cool. Remove the cloves, cardamom pods and star anise.

In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking powder and stir together with the salt. Make a well in the center and pour in first the egg, then the butter-spice mix. Mix together on low speed with until it comes together in a ball.

Divide roughly into 2 balls and wrap each in glad wrap and place in the fridge. Let them sit for at least a couple of hours, or even up to 2 days.

When you’re ready, line 4 baking trays and pre-heat the oven to 180C. Flour your bench and roll the dough out to about 1.5cm thick. The cooled mixture actually ended up being too hard so I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so- depending on the amount of dough.

Press your heart shaped cookie cutter down into the rolled out dough and wiggle to loosen. Carefully left off the bench (use a palette knife if you have one) and place on the baking trays.

Make a small hole in the corner of the hearts with a drinking straw if you wish to thread a ribbon through them to hang as decorations.

Once all the hearts are cut, bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Do watch that they don’t catch on the bottom (they will burn from the underneath first- the heart tip will colour to let you know).

Let the cookies cool completely on the trays- they will harden. Then decorate as you wish. I used an icing sugar, water, colouring mixture and used an icing pen. 

(L) 1st attempt (R) 2nd successful attempt

1 comment:

  1. Naw, reminds me of high school g times on international food days!