I always look forward to the Christmas sweets at supermarkets. I cannot go past Lebkuchen. There are heart shaped chocolate coated ones, with or without a filling. There are flat, disc shaped ones. There are pretzel shaped ones, and star shaped ones with a hole in the middle. They are all irresistible. Speaking with a lot of experience of having eaten far too many, I highly recommend the heart shaped ones with orange jam filling.

Outside the realm of the supermarket world, Lebkuchen can also be found sold as large heart shapes with writing on them, usually personalised messages, and as a Lebkuchenhaus, similar to a gingerbread house.

I could not help having a go at making my own this year. I made the flat, disc shaped variety.

Lebkuchen

But, I needed Lebkuchengewürz. That’s a special mix of spices!

On my quest to learn more about spices, I discovered a shop called Gewürzhaus in The Strand, Sydney. Think of a lolly shop, but with spices instead of confectionary. The name is German for “spice house”, and the shop was started in Melbourne by two German sisters. It was fun asking about spices.

Ingredients for Lebkuchengewürz, ground:

  • cinnamon (2 1/2 tbsp)
  • cloves (2 tsp)
  • allspice (1/2 tsp)
  • coriander seeds (1/2 tsp)
  • cardamom (1/2 tsp)
  • ginger (1/2 tsp)
  • star anise (1/2 tsp)
  • nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
  • mace (1/4 tsp) - I left this out as it was not in my spice collection at the time! Most authentic recipes use it though.

The way to make the Lebkuchengewürz is to simply mix all the ground ingredients together. I used a spice grinder for some of the spices which were not pre-ground. In the picture below, before I mixed all the ground spices together, you can still make out which spice is which. The coriander seeds are on the right, where small pieces of their spherical shells can still be spotted. The leafy green one on the left is cardamom, as its green pods and contents were shredded to pieces. The dark brown at the bottom is cloves. One of the mixes at the top is star anise. Ginger is the lightest one.

Lebkuchengewürz

Ingredients for Lebkuchen:

  • 250 g orange and lemon mixed peel (candied)
  • 1/4 cups flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 250 g almond meal
  • 250 g hazelnut meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons Lebkuchengewürz
  • slivered almonds as decoration

Ingredients for the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Ingredients for the Sugar Glaze:

  • 120 g sifted icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
  2. Toss the mixed peel with the flour (to keep it from sticking together) and then pulse in a food processor until finely minced. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a hand mixer until foamy. Add the sugar, honey and vanilla extract and beat with a hand mixer until combined.
  4. Add the ground almond meal, ground hazelnut meal, salt, baking powder, Lebkuchengewürz, and mixed peel and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. The mixture will be wet but if it is too thin to scoop on to baking paper, add some more almond or hazelnut meal.
  5. Scoop the mixture onto baking paper, making ovals, smoothing down the top.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
  7. For the chocolate glaze, place chocolate and oil in a small bowl and microwave stirring occasionally, until melted. Use immediately. If glaze becomes firm, reheat in the microwave.
  8. For the sugar glaze, place icing sugar and water in a small bowl and stir until smooth.
  9. Dip half the Lebkuchen in the chocolate glaze and half in the sugar glaze. Arrange 3 slivered almonds on each Lebkuchen while the glaze is still wet. Let the Lebkuchen dry completely until the glaze is hardened.

This made about 25 cookies for me, of varying sizes.

They turned out great with people asking if they were store bought! For a more authentic recipe, use Backoblaten (thin discs made mainly of flour and sugar) as the base of each cookie. There’s many variations to this recipe, including a Lebkuchen slice which I will have to try out with all the left over Lebkuchengewürz that I now have!

Lebkuchen