Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen are pretty much a staple this time of the year but seem to come in so many different forms and fashions, I even have two different favourite recipes for them – one very much like gingerbread and another which is more of a cake. What they have in common is an abundance of spices and chocolate. It’s the only other chocolatey treat I make this time of the year and I can handle eating about two then get overwhelmed with the richness.

What you need:

1 cup soft (room temperature) butter

1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp each ground cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and cardamom

1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tbsp butter or margarine

Cream the butter, sugar eggs and vanilla together. A handmixer is good for that part but becomes redundant on the next step, which is adding the flour. At this point the dough tends to get too sticky and thick for a hand blender, so if you’ve dough hooks and a stand mixer then this is a good time for that, if not you’re relegated to wooden spoon land and over-developed dominant arm triceps like the rest of us. After the flour has been thoroughly blended in add the rest of the ingredients and blend until it all becomes a mad blended thing. Chill for two hours.

On a very well-floured surface roll the dough out to ¼ inch and cut into whatever shapes your little hearts desire. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

After the cookies have cooled they can be ‘iced’. In our house this doesn’t look like icing as much as it looks like Jackson Pollock took over the kitchen. Cookies get dunked, drizzled over, tossed and even smeared. In order to do this the chips and the butter or margarine need to be melted together in a double boiler and kept warm over high heat through the process. Once the chocolate has reached a liquid state all of the above verbs may be acted out upon our spicy little bundles of joy.

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