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Hi Bold Bakers!
WHO WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE: Fans of spiced, fruity, nutty, chewy confections will love my Nuremberg Lebkuchen recipe. These traditional German Christmas Cookies have such a delightfully complex flavor you won’t be able to stop at just one.
Nuremberg Lebkuchen, a traditional German Christmas Cookie, is a wonderful cookie to add to your holiday tray — along with a few other of my favorite holiday cookie recipes. Lebkuchens are chewy and soft, and their flavor profile is very different from other cookies you may be making this year!
Lebkuchen is sweetened with honey, so its sweetness is light, maybe almost floral, depending on the type of honey you use. They’re also wonderfully spiced, with warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, anise, allspice, coriander, cardamom, and nutmeg. Adding to that flavor, my homemade Lebkuchen recipe calls for almond flour, hazelnut flour, and candied mixed peel. The cookies are traditionally baked on Back Oblaten, a type of wafer paper, but if you can’t find those, I have a few solutions below!
After baking, these cookies are dunked in a chocolate glaze or a sugar glaze, giving them a nice outer coating, then they are decorated with a few slivered almonds. The difference in the texture of the bottom wafer, the cookie, the glaze, and the almonds is one of my favorite parts of these cookies.
Table Of Contents
- What Are Lebkuchen?
- What Is Back Oblaten?
- Tools You Need
- Ingredients For Nuremberg Lebkuchen
- How To Make Lebkuchen
- Can I Make Lebkuchen Ahead Of Time?
- How To Store Lebkuchen Cookies
- Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips
- More Holiday Cookie Recipes From Around The World
Lebkuchen is pronounced “leb-kuh-chn,” and are cookies that date back centuries! Now a Christmas tradition in Germany, these cake-like cookies were invented all the way back in the 14th century in Nuremberg.
Nuremberg became a city known for Lebkuchen because they were surrounded by forests, where they could collect honey, and the city was luckily located along a spice trade route, which meant getting the spices for this cookie was easy for the townspeople.
Usually, people compare Lebkuchen to gingerbread, and while it is spiced similarly, it’s a very different texture and a very different cookie. While gingerbread is usually a thin, snappy cookie, Nuremberg Lebkuchen cookies are chewy and nutty.
There are a few different recipes for Lebkuchen, but this one is based on Nuremberg Lebkuchen, which is made with hazelnuts and almonds. In the case of our recipe, I use both hazelnut and almond flour and top the cookies with slivered almonds.
Nuremberg Lebkuchen also has candied mixed peel mixed in the cookie dough. I made a homemade Candied Mixed Peel with oranges and lemons.
But what really sets these cookies apart is the Back Oblaten on the bottom.
Back Oblaten is a wafer paper, which is an edible paper. They may be hard to find if you don’t have a good German market nearby, but you could order them online. Alternatively, you can try baking them on unflavored thin rice crackers or communion wafers, or just opt to bake without.
Back Oblaten is made from wheat flour, starch, and water.
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Food processor
- Mixing bowls
- 2 Baking sheets
- Double boiler or microwave-safe bowl
- Parchment paper
- Almond flour and hazelnut flour: I use both almond and hazelnut flour to give these cookies structure and to give the cookies a nutty taste. You can make your own or use storebought.
- Candied mixed peel: Candied mixed peel is a way to preserve the skin of fruits. In this case, I used my Homemade Candied Mixed Peel, which is lemons and orange skins cooked in thick sugar syrup. You can use storebought; candied mixed peel can be found in the baking aisle of your grocery store.
- Baking powder: Baking powder is what helps make the cookies rise while they bake.
- Salt: Salt helps bring out all the flavors of the cookies.
- Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, anise, allspice, coriander, cardamom, and nutmeg: These are the warm spices you’ll use to spice the Lebkuchen cookies.
- Dark brown sugar: Dark brown sugar gives your cookies a deep, caramelly flavor and helps provide moisture.
- Eggs: Eggs hold the structure of the cookie together. I use large eggs in my recipes.
- Honey: You can’t make Lebkuchen without honey! Honey helps sweeten the cookie and lends moisture.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla, like salt, helps bring out the flavors of the cookies.
- Back Oblaten: Alternatively, unflavored thin rice crackers or communion wafers. You can omit this completely as well.
- Slivered almonds: For decoration.
For the Chocolate Glaze:
- Bittersweet chocolate: I prefer to use bittersweet chocolate, so the cookies do not taste overly sweet.
- Vegetable oil: Oil helps keep chocolate smooth while melting. You can omit using it if you prefer.
For the Sugar Glaze:
- Powdered sugar: The sweet sugar is what flavors the sugar glaze. You can make Homemade Powdered Sugar out of granulated sugar if you are out.
- Whole milk: Whole milk gives the glaze its creamy texture.
- In a food processor, pulse the flours, candied peel, spices, salt, and baking soda together until the candied peel is finely minced.
- In a bowl, whisk the brown sugar, eggs, honey, and vanilla extract. Then, add to the nut mixture and pulse until combined. Transfer to a bowl and give it a few stirs to make sure it’s evenly combined.
- Lay 12 Back Oblaten on the two parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Then roll some of the cookie dough into a ball and flatten it slightly on the wafer. Repeat until all the wafers are covered with dough.
- Bake in a preheated 300°F (150°C) oven for 25-30 minutes until the cookie is slightly puffed and cooked through. Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before glazing.
Yes, you can make Lebkuchen in advance. These cookies get better as they sit, and the flavors meld together! You can make the dough for Lebkuchen ahead of time and store it in your refrigerator until you are ready to bake for up to 5 days.
Lebkuchen can be frozen as well. I recommend you freeze the cookies before you glaze them by separating them with parchment paper and storing them in an airtight container in your freezer for up to 2 months. Let the cookies thaw in the refrigerator the night before you plan to serve them.
Leftover Lebkuchen cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days; however, they are known to last for longer at room temperature. For longer storage, see my note about freezing Nuremberg Lebkuchen above.
What is on the bottom of Lebkuchen cookies?
Traditionally, Lebkuchen are baked on top of Back Oblaten, or Wafer Papers, which is an edible paper. You can find Back Oblaten at a German specialty store or online.
What can I use instead of Back Oblaten for Lebkuchen cookies?
If you can’t find Back Oblaten, you can use communion wafers or thin unflavored rice crackers. If you can’t find any of these, you can bak Lebkuchen without Back Oblaten or the substitutes.
Do I eat the bottom of Lebkuchen?
Do not peel the bottom off Lebkuchen — the thin wafer is part of the cookie and is made of edible paper.
- You can easily make your own Candied Mixed Peel for this recipe. You can also make your own almond flour and hazelnut flour.
- There are many different versions of Lebkuchen. Try a few different recipes online and see which you like best! (I like this version, obviously!)
- You can use different ground nuts in the same amount as the almond and hazelnut flour for a different flavor.
- Check out my Top 10 Classic Christmas Cookies to see what else you might serve alongside these cookies!
Nuremberg Lebkuchen (German Christmas Cookies)
For the Cookies
- 1 cup (4 oz/115 g) almond flour
- 1 cup (4 oz/115 g) hazelnut flour
- 1 cup (5 oz/142 g) candied mixed peel
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon anise
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon coriander
- ⅛ teaspoon cardamom
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup (3 oz/85 g) dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 24 Back Oblaten (wafer paper), 2-3 inches (70 mm) wide
For the Chocolate Glaze
- ⅓ cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (2 oz/57 g)
- ½ teaspoon vegetable oil
For the Sugar Glaze
- ½ cup (2 oz/57 g) powdered sugar
- 1½ tablespoons whole milk
- 1 cup (5 oz/142 g) slivered almonds, for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
To Make the Cookies
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almond flour, hazelnut flour, candied peel, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, cloves, ginger, anise, allspice, coriander, cardamom, and nutmeg until the peel is finely minced.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, honey, and vanilla extract. Add this to the nut mixture and pulse until combined. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir a few times to ensure everything is evenly combined.
- Lay 12 Back Oblaten wafers on each baking sheet.
- Roll about 1½ tablespoons of the nut mixture into a ball, then flatten slightly and place on top of a wafer. Repeat with the remaining nut mixture.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cookies are slightly puffed and baked through. Let cool completely on a wire rack before glazing.
To Make the Chocolate Glaze
- Combine the chocolate and oil in a double boiler over simmering water and melt, stirring frequently. You can also microwave the chocolate for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between.
To Make Sugar Glaze
- In a small bowl, stir the powdered sugar and milk together until smooth.
- Dip half the cookies in each glaze, then decorate with a few slivered almonds. Let set completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days.