Lebkuchen Cookie Christmas Trees
Make these Christmas Lebkuchen cookie trees, topped with chocolate, for gifts. Tastes like gingerbread.
Baking Lebkuchen cookies for Christmas was next on my baking list ever since I saw them at the Christmas Markets in Strasbourg, France.
Lebkuchen are Christmas Cookies that originated in Germany. They are pretty close to gingerbread, being flavoured with spices, but are softer and puffier.
Lebkuchen are often cut into small shapes and have dark chocolate on the base and a thin crispy sugar shell on the outside. But Lebkuchen can also rolled and cut into large hearts and decorated with royal icing.
If you visit Christmas markets around Europe there’s typically an entire stall dedicated to gingerbread and Lebkuchen.
When I was fortunate enough to live in the UK for a few years I made sure I visited as many European Christmas Markets as I could. Especially being an Australian who never experienced a traditional white Christmas before.
I loved visiting the Strasbourg Christmas Markets on the border between France and Germany. Strasbourg is in the Alsace region, an area that has been won and lost countless times in history between France and Germany. Hence, Strasbourg is heavily influenced by both cultures.
The street and buildings of Strasbourg are like real-life gingerbread houses. It’s your quintessential fairytale Christmas village.
You are just as likely to find typically German fare like fresh-baked pretzels and kugelhopf, as you are to eat French baked goods like brioche and pain d’epice (Spiced bread).
Of course I tried most of the Christmas baked goods around the Strasbourg Christmas Market.
I made sure I brought back a few bags of Lebkuchen for friends to try. A few years later, I wanted to try making my own Lebkuchen cookies for Christmas.
For my own spin I cut my Lebkuchen into Christmas trees, which I coated with chocolate on top rather than underneath. I added festive-coloured sprinkles as the Christmas tree baubles.
This Lebkuchen cookie recipe is spiced with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. It’s very similar to gingerbread, except a little softer. The only thing I couldn’t achieve was the puffy texture of the real authentic Lebkuchen cookies I tried in Strasbourg. Possibly I rolled the dough way too thin, so maybe try thicker cookies if you want them softer. They still taste wonderful and make great gifts for Christmas.
HOW TO MAKE LEBKUCHEN COOKIE CHRISTMAS TREES
Click to watch how to make Lebkuchen Cookie Christmas Trees
LEBKUCHEN CHRISTMAS TREES
Makes: about 24 trees Difficulty: Easy
Large baking tray
Christmas Tree shaped cookie cutter, 8 x 5 cm
60g Unsalted Butter
240g Golden Syrup
230g Plain Flour, and 50 to 75g extra
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate Soda
1 teaspoon ground Ginger
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground Cardamom
½ teaspoon ground Cloves
½ teaspoon Cocoa Powder
1 tablespoon Milk
125g Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
Red and Green Sprinkles
Add the butter and golden syrup to a small saucepan. Melt together on low heat. Increase heat to medium and boil together until the colour changes to a slightly deeper golden brown. Let the mixture cool.
Add the boiled butter and golden syrup to a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, bicarbonate soda, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cocoa powder, and milk. Stir together with a wooden spoon.
The dough looks quite wet at this stage but it will firm up. Cover the bowl with plastic film and leave it to prove for 1 ½ hours.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 fan-forced; 350F). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Remove the plastic film from the dough and knead it lightly. Add more flour to the dough until it’s no longer sticky (about 50 grams).
Dust the surface of the workbench with flour. Roll the dough roughly 1cm thick. Press the cookie cutter into the dough and place each shape on the baking tray. Leave at least 2cm between each cookie.
Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies are done when they are deep golden brown underneath. Let them cool on a wire rack.
Melt the dark chocolate slowly in 30 seconds bursts in the microwave. Stir very well between each one. When the cookies are completely cool frost the tops with melted chocolate and sprinkle with red and green sprinkles.
- Flour your workbench often between rolling the dough, as it’s prone to sticking. You don’t want to add too much extra flour into the dough itself or the cookies will become too hard and floury.