Every year around this time, we receive a big, pretty box from our suppliers and friends in Germany. It’s filled with our annual, dated Christmas ornaments; dark, bold coffees; pages and pages of handwritten greetings and the best Lebkuchen of all time. No more than a few seconds after the box has left the UPS driver’s hands, the four of us have greedily gathered around it to nab those yummy cookies… and also to read the letters, of course.
I haven’t seen said box this year (and truthfully, it might still be a bit early), so I decided to make a batch of my own Lebkuchen. You’d think that since Mango is full-blood German, we’d have an amazing recipe, but no. I had to rely on King Arthur Flour’s site this time (which has never failed me). Lebkuchen is simple to make and even easier to eat. I’m not a huge fan of the candied peels or crystallized ginger that is often seen nestled in the middle, so I left these out. However, feel free to add in whatever you like. KAF’s version is great, but I’m still looking for that perfect one that will measure up to an original Nürnberg cookie. I’ve got a few more recipes to try out, so look for a Lebkuchen, Version 2.0 soon!
Lebkuchen with Amaretto-Vanilla Glaze
Adapted from: King Arthur Flour
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tbsp Amaretto
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, bring the honey and brown sugar to a boil while stirring occasionally. Remove the mixture from the heat and cool it until it’s just warm. In a large bowl, beat together the cooled honey mixture and the egg. Add the flour, baking soda and spices and beat until very well-combined. The dough will be on the stiff side, but also very sticky. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, then coat with non-stick cooking spray. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 9 x 13-inch rectangle. Carefully transfer the dough rectangle to the prepared pan, either by wrapping it around the rolling pin and then unfolding it into the pan, or using a giant spatula. Try to fit the dough into the pan without pressing down too hard around its edges; otherwise these areas will be dense and tough. Bake the bars for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Prepare the glaze while the bars are baking by stirring the Amaretto and vanilla extract into the confectioners’ sugar and mixing until smooth. Transfer the baked bars to a cooling rack and immediately brush on the glaze with a pastry brush; let the glaze soak into the bars somewhat before applying another layer.
Let cool completely before cutting into 1×2-inch bars. Store the bars in an airtight container with a slice of apple (for its softening powers). If you make the Lebkuchen 2 to 3 days ahead of time, they’ll taste even better.