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German Lebkuchen Christmas Cookies

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Lebkuchen Christmas Cookies is an easy-to-make flourless, soft, and chewy cookie filled with candied citrus, and ground almonds and packed with traditional gingerbread spices. Many consider them to be the world’s oldest cookies.

Side view of Lebkuchen decorated Christmas cookies on a white plate with a German village in the background

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These German Lebkuchen cookies are in the tradition or Elisenlebkuchen, a traditional Christmas cookie found in Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt during Advent.

And they are SO delicious and fun to make!

What is Elisenlebkuchen?

Essentially, they are glazed flourless cookies popular in Nuremberg. You may be familiar with lebkuchen, which is a blanket term for German gingerbread, and some believe one of the world’s oldest cookies.

This recipe is an adaptation of traditional Elisenlebkuchen found in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg. They are baked onto thin baking wafers called Oblaten before being glazed and decorated with blanched almonds.

Plate of sugar glazed and chocolate glazed Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen Ingredients

The ingredients for these oh-so-delicious Christmas cookies are really simple, and very traditional for the season. Exact measurements are in the recipe card below. Here’s what you need:

  • Large eggs
  • Brown sugar
  • Ground almonds and hazelnuts: You can substitute almond flour for the almonds, or can make your own by finely grinding almonds (and hazelnuts too) in a food processor or coffee grinder.
  • Baking powder
  • Candied mixed peel (orange and lemon): these you can find in the produce section (or sometimes baking section) of most markets.
  • Lemon zest
  • Lebkuchen spice (see below for substitutions or in the notes section of the recipe card, I give you spice substitutions for just this recipe)
  • Oblaten baking wafers
  • Marcona almonds (halved blanched almonds): these are optional but traditional for decorations.

Lebkuchen Spice Mix

I love to make a batch of lebkuchen spice at the beginning of the season. Traditionally, lebkuchen spice is made from 7 ingredients. Much like other favored spices, the recipes vary from family to family, person to person. Here’s my favorite blend:

  • 5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace

Mix together and store in an airtight container for up to 1 year.

Iced and stacked Lebkuchen cookies with almonds

How to Decorate Lebkuchen

In Germany, you can find lebkuchen in different shapes from round to hearts, stars, and more. I like to keep it simple and decorate with both a chocolate glaze and a sugar glaze. And then, for that traditional touch, I like to add 3 blanched almonds to the top of each glazed cookie.

For the sugar glaze: This is a simple glaze made from powdered sugar and just boiled water. This glaze is brushed onto the cookies immediately after coming out of the oven. This step is important and will set the glaze.

For the chocolate glaze: A simple mixture of chocolate and oil, I love to use coconut oil, melted together becomes a delicious glaze to brush on the cookies after they have cooled.

Storing Lebkuchen

Store in an airtight container for several weeks. A slice of apple, added to the container, will help keep the cookies soft due to the moisture in the apple.

German Baking Resources

I’ve written about my German grandmothers in the past. They were such a huge part of my life, and Christmas was celebrated with more baking than you can even imagine. In addition to their influence, I find helpful resources in these two books, both found on Amazon.

  • ADVENT: Festive German Bakes to Celebrate the Coming of Christmas by Anja Dunk
  • Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites by Luisa Weiss

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Side view of 4 stacked Lebkuchen on a white plate with a bite missing
Side view of stacked Lebkuchen on a white plate with a bite missing

Lebkuchen Christmas Cookies

Yield: 30 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes

Lebkuchen Christmas Cookies is an easy-to-make flourless, soft, and chewy cookie filled with candied citrus, and ground almonds and packed with traditional gingerbread spices. Many consider them to be the world's oldest cookies.

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 ounces almonds, ground
  • 2/3 cup hazelnuts, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 ounces mixed peel (orange and lemon)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 teaspoons lebkuchen spice (* see note)
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • Oblaten baking wafers
  • Marcona Almonds (halved blanched almonds): optional for decorating

Sugar Glaze

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hot water

Chocolate Glaze

  • 100G (3.5 ounces) chocolate, chopped (or melting wafers)
  • 1/4 teaspoon oil (coconut, vegetable, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Using a pairing knife, split the baking wafers (Oblaten) in half. The inside will be gritty. Lay the baking wafers on the baking sheet with the smooth side down. The cookies don't spread much so they can be fairly close together. Set aside.
  3. Place eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld electric mixer) and beat together for several minutes, until frothy.
  4. Add the Lebkuchen spice, salt, lemon zest, mixed peel, ground almonds (or almond flour), and ground hazelnuts. Mix until well combined.
  5. Mound the batter neatly onto each baking wafer with a spoon or alternatively by filling a pastry bag and piping the batter onto the wafers. The batter should be moist and spreadable, but able to hold its shape. If it's too liquidity, add additional almond meal or flour. I'm using 70mm wafers (2 3/4-inch) and use about 3 tablespoons batter for each cookie.
  6. Bake until golden and slightly puffed, about 15 to 20 minutes.

For Sugar Glaze:

  1. While the cookies are baking, combine 3/4 cup powdered sugar with just boiled water until a smooth glossy icing is formed.
  2. Working quickly while the cookies are still hot from the oven, brush the blaze onto each Lebkuchen. For a traditional touch, decorate with blanched almonds and let cool completely. Be sure the icing is dry before storing.

For Chocolate Glaze:

  1. Put chocolate and oil into a heatproof bowl and place over a small saucepan with 1 inch of water in the bottom. Heat on low until the chocolate melts. Once it begins to melt, stir so that the oil is evenly dispersed through the chocolate.
  2. Brush the cooled Lebkuchen with melted chocolate and decorate the tops with blanched almonds. Let the chocolate harden before storing.

Notes

Lebkuchen Spice:

Lebkuchen spice is essentially a gingerbread spice mix that is wonderful to have on hand during the baking season. I love to make a big batch and store it for quick baking. If you're not making your own, you can substitute the following spices:

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

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