One of the great things about Christmas in Germany, is their amazing array of Weihnachtsplätchen, or Christmas biscuits. Lebkuchen comes in many different varieties, but mainly consists of ground almonds and hazelnuts, mixed peel and a lovely spice mix of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, allspice and black pepper. Some are made with honey, some are more cakey, some have chocolate on top and some are sugar glazed. However it is in my opinion, despite the vast variety, difficult to find a good one. I like to just use ground nuts in mine, and either I coat them with melted dark chocolate and sprinkle a little sea salt on top, or like in the picture, I coat them with a red wine icing / glaze. I prefer to use whole nuts and grind them myself for a more intense nuttier flavour, but if you are like me and don’t have a very good blender at home then they will be a little more coarse in texture. They also work really well with ground cashews and walnuts. These keep really well, and are actually best eaten a week later when they have softened a little. But to be honest they rarely make it to a week old….. My favourite Christmas treat.
Makes between 22 and 30
400 g ground Almonds
200 g ground Hazelnuts
250 g Sugar
200 g Mixed Peel
2 Tsp Cinnamon
3 Tsp ground ‘Lebkuchen’ spice (7 Cardamom Pods, seeds only, 5 All Spice, 4 Cloves, 2 Petals Star Anise, 5 Black Peppercorns, 1 small piece of Mace)
2 Lemons, zest of both, juice of half
Pinch of Salt
For the icing:
150 g Dark Chocolate or
100 g Icing Sugar with at least 1,5 Tbsp Red Wine or Lemon Juice.
Put all the ingredients in a bowl together and mix well. Leave in the fridge to rest for an hour. Preheat the oven to 120 °C. Prepare two baking sheets with baking paper. Take a large golf ball size amount of dough roll into a ball and then flatten to a round that is at least 1 cm in thickness. Place on the baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. They should turn light brown on the edges and be firm on the top but still soft in the centre. Leave to cool. Once they have cooled prepare the icing. Either melt 150 g dark chocolate and coat the Lebkuchen with the chocolate, or mix 100 g icing sugar with 1,5 Tbsp red wine for a rosy pink icing or with lemon juice for a tangy icing. To get creative keep the icing stiff and use a piping bag to draw festive shapes! Or to create a glossy drizzle, add more liquid for a looser icing to drizzle over the biscuit.