Makes 4-5 dozen
I call these “American” lebkuchen because I add a touch of molasses and a variety of warm spices not often found in the traditional Bavarian honey cookie. I also add a bit of anise seed, as it brings out the citrus and honey notes. These can be rolled and cut out with holiday cookie cutters, or rolled into a large rectangle which you then cut into smaller rectangles. (Bake the whole rectangle, fully scored, and then break the bars apart.) These are sweet, chewy and just plain delicious. This recipe is derived, many iterations back, from my mother’s Lebkuchen recipe (which I no longer have, as it’s been so long). She probably clipped it from “Woman’s Day” or “Family Circle” sometime during the sixties. Enjoy! ;o)
½ cup (one stick) butter
½ cup honey
¼ cup molasses
½ cup brown sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Zest of a large lemon or medium orange, finely chopped
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground Ceylon or Korintje cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly ground anise seed (optional but recommended. I like anise seeds from Spain.)
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
½ cup finely diced crystallized ginger
Icing: ¾ - 1 cup powdered sugar 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice (or orange liqueur, or water)
To make the dough: Combine in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring, the butter, honey, molasses and brown sugar. When the butter is melted, continue to stir a few more times; then, pour the mixture into a large bowl to cool.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, lemon or orange zest, baking soda, spices, and salt. Sprinkle the ginger over the flour mixture and stir in gently.
Add the egg to the butter mixture and whisk to combine.
Add half of the flour and spices to the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the remaining flour and stir until fully combined.
Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, to allow the flavors to meld.
To bake the cookies: Before rolling, let dough stand for at least an hour at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (300 for a convection oven if your manual suggests a reduction).
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the edges are just a little brown. Cool on racks.
To make the icing: Sift ¾ cup of the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl; drizzle in the lemon juice or other liquid, starting with one teaspoon and slowly adding more if necessary. Stir well. Add more sugar or liquid to get the consistency you prefer. Drizzle the icing in stripy patterns over the cookies.