German Christmas Cookie: Elisenlebkuchen

Finallly! The PERFECT Lebkuchen Cookie.  If you’ve been reading my recipe posts, you know that I’ve been experimenting with various versions of the German Christmas Cookie: Lebkuchen.

lebkuchen elisenlebkuchen

Lebkuchen gingerbread men, hearts and stars and chocolate coated elisenlebkuchen on right

Lebkuchen originated in Nuremberg, and that gingerbread-style honey and molasses cookie with lots of spices, is the Nuremberg lebkuchen that I talked about last week. The spice mixture stays the same in all the versions of lebkuchen, and I also showed you how to make the lebkuchengewurz and other uses for it, just in case you get tired of cookies.

But this week I’m moving on to a naturally gluten-free cookie like nothing I have ever baked or eaten before.  This one is called the Elisenlebkuchen, and since it comes from Bavaria, is likely the one that my ancestors and Ken’s would have made. These cookies bear little resemblance to the gingerbready version in taste, texture or wow factor.

First you must become acquainted with Oblaten to make Elisenlebkuchen. These thin baking wafers ensure that your cookie will easily come off of the cookie sheet, will keep them uniform in size, and will keep them soft as they age to perfection. Oblaten are like edible paper, and unfortunately for people who want 100% gluten free cookies, they are made from wheat. Read on for some solutions for the Oblaten challenge.

I’m betting that 98% of my readers have no Oblaten in their pantry. Don’t worry. It IS possible to make the lebkuchen without the Oblaten, I am told, but I didn’t try.

Without Oblaten: Oil the pan very well, and line with parchment paper, also oiled. When the cookies are baked, you want to glaze or cover with chocolate the BACK as well as the front of the cookie, in order to keep it soft and tasty.

With Edible Rice Paper:  This is the option to make the entire cookie gluten free. I made a dozen this way.  I bought squares of edible Rice Paper in the Vietnamese food section of the grocery, and cut them in rounds.  Rice Paper is a bit stiffer than Oblaten, but it does the job.

To Find Oblaten:

If there is a German grocer near you, of course that is the place to go. A German bakery or restaurant might be willing to sell you some. If not, you can order them on line as I did.  Amazon had them here. (I note that they are out of stock at Amazon as I write this, but you can find them other places on line as well.)  You can also get the edible rice paper baking squares on line.

This Elisenlebkuchen is an authentic German recipe, so quantities are given in grams and ounces.  I bought a kitchen scale a couple years ago and find I use it more and more frequently. I only got in trouble with this recipe with the one ingredient I did not weigh–the eggs. But I’ll explain that in the notes and add some conversions that I hope will help if you do not have a kitchen scale.

Final note–I made my own candied citrus peel, and here they show off in a heritage footed bowl.

Candied citrus for elisenlebkuchen

Candied orange and lemon peel in heirloom footed candy bowl.

Mach Spass! (Enjoy!)

German Elisenlebkuchen

Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 45 minutes
Allergy Egg, Tree Nuts
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable
Occasion Christmas
Region European
Website Birgit's Daily Bytes
The authentic German Christmas cookie, Elisenlebkuchen is naturally gluten free.

Ingredients

  • 16.6oz sugar ((2 1/8 cup))
  • 6 eggs (1.9 oz each. (I found that 5 large eggs worked better))
  • 3 teaspoons lebkuchengewurz spice mix (or 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, cloves, coriander, allspice, nutmeg and cardamon.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8.5oz Hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (1 3/4 C. Or use part or all almonds, pecans, or walnuts)
  • 8.5oz Hazelnuts, finely ground (1 3/4 C. (grind in food processor))
  • 1.8oz walnuts, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3.5oz candied orange peel (finely chopped)
  • 3.5oz candied lemon peel (finely chopped)
  • peel of one lemon (grated)
  • peel of one orange (grated)
  • Oblaten baking wafers (50 MM size)

Directions

1. Grind hazelnuts as fine as possible in food processor unless you can get them already ground and chopped.
2. Chop the nuts that are to be coarsely chopped by pulsing a few times, then add the candied peel and pulse a few more times.
3. Mix all ingredients. Cover bowl and put in refrigerator for 24 hours.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
5. Put baking wafers on cookie sheet about 1/2" apart.
6. Working with hands dipped in water, scoop up a ball of dough and place in center of a baking sheet. Press with fingers to smooth, leaving a slight edge on the disk showing.
7. Bake sheet of cookies for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden brown, but still not done in middle.
8. Place on cooling rack
9. To coat with sugar glaze, mix a cup of confectioner's sugar with 1 T water. Brush the coating on while cookie is still barely warm.
10. To coat with chocolate. Let cookies cool completely, melt a cup or 2 of good chocolate (the kind you like best). Stir in a teaspoon of vegetable or coconut oil per cup of chocolate to keep glaze shiny. Brush the coating on thinly. If you did not use oblaten, let one side cool, then completely cover other side with chocolate (or glaze).
11. Store in tightly closed cookie tin to age for at least a week or two.

Note

I baked a the first half of my prepared dough and discovered that the cookies spread, which they are not supposed to do. In the future, I will bake a test batch of half a dozen before baking all of the cookies.  I cured the problem by adding a cup of almond flour, and the 2nd half of the dough behaved perfectly.  I believe the problem was that my eggs were a little too large. Next time I may try using just 5 eggs.

SEE PICTURE. The chocolate frosted cookies on the left are the correct shape. The others are delicious, but ugly.

I found the hazelnuts very hard to grind finely in my food processor.  I had to dump out the ground nuts and by hand pick the large pieces and put back in the processor.  Hazelnuts are harder than most nuts.  If anyone has suggestions for a better way to get the hazelnuts fine enough, please let me know!

I had trouble finding candied lemon and orange peel in the store this year, so I made my own. Perhaps I'll share that recipe one of these days, but basically I used Joy of Cooking.

Some descriptions say that traditionally the cookies are quite simple with a half almond placed in the center before glazing with sugar-glaze or chocolate.  I did all chocolate, because, well....chocolate!

 

 

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