Lebkuchen Bars – German Christmas Cookies

Lebkuchen is a classic German variation of a gingerbread cookie; it's softer and chewier than the crisp, thin versions. This bar cookie version is like a really moist and cakey gingerbread. This dough, with its many spices, needs to ripen overnight before baking. It keeps up to 2 months, so it is a good choice to make ahead for your Christmas cookie tin.
Keyword christmas

Ingredients

For the Lebkuchen dough:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into tablespoons
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup unblanched sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup candied orange peel finely chopped
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

For the Orange-ginger glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Prepare the lebkuchen dough:

  • In a large, nonreactive saucepan, combine the honey, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter and place over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, the butter is melted, and the mixture just begins to boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 15 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. Set aside.
  • Stir the sliced almonds, candied orange peel, egg, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla and almond extracts into the cooled honey mixture. Add the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the dough. Seal the top of the pot with another piece of plastic wrap and let the dough stand at room temperature (do not refrigerate) for 8 hours, or overnight.
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. Transfer the dough to the pan and, with a spatula, spread it into an even layer. Bake the lebkuchen for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. While the bars are baking, make the glaze.

Prepare the glaze:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, orange juice, ginger, and vanilla extract until smooth.

Glaze and cut the bars:

  • When the bars have baked, place the pan on a wire rack. Using a small, offset metal spatula, spread the glaze onto the warm bars in an even layer. Let the bars cool completely.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the glazed square into twenty-four 1-1/4 by 1-3/4 inch rectangles.
Recipe courtesy of Tish Boyle at Chocolatier Magazine (October 2005)

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