German Christmas Cookie: Elisenlebkuchen

Update December 2019: Apologies to anyone who tried to follow this recipe before now.  I just discovered a terrible omission.  In the list of ingredients, I left out the  almond flour that I used to supplement the hazelnut meal!  The recipe below has been corrected, updating it to the amount of flour I actually used in the recipe–1 3/4 cups hazelnut finely ground; 1 cup of almond flour. In the recipe notes, I have also added helpful hints on dealing with hazelnuts.

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 .  You can also get the edible rice paper baking squares on line or at an Asian grocery or some general grocery stores.

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 with chocloate 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 and 3/4 cup SEE NOTE ON HAZELNUTS)
  • 8.5oz Hazelnuts, finely ground (1 3/4 C. SEE NOTE ON HAZELNUTS)
  • 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)
  • 1 cup almond flour (also called almond meal (if needed))

Directions

1. Grind hazelnuts as fine as possible in food processor unless you can get them already ground and chopped. (See Note)
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

REVISED 12/2019

Bake a test batch of half a dozen cookies to see if they spread too much. If so, add the almond flour. 5 large eggs are generally enough.

HAZELNUTS--SKINNING AND CHILLING AND CHOPPING

Hazelnuts are harder than most nuts, so chopping and grinding is a challenge.  Some research has shown me that they will grind to a fine meal in the food processor if they are chilled before grinding.  It is also important to remove the dark brown papery skins, as they are bitter.  Here are the steps I followed.

Heat the oven to 350. Spread the nuts on a baking pan and put them in the oven for ten minutes. When you remove them from the oven, let them cool a few minutes, then pour them onto a clean dish towel. (It may be stained by the skins, so use one you don't care about.) Wrap the towel around the nuts and squeeze and roll vigorously for a few minutes.  Most of the skins will come off. Don't worry if a few nuts stubbornly hold on to their skin.

Then put the nuts in a plastic bag or into a dish and put in the refrigerator or freezer until they are chilled.  Next pour them into the food processor with the blade, and pulse until they are as fine as you like.

The oil in the nuts will make a paste before all the nuts are chopped if the nuts are room temperature or warmer. But this chilling technique works like a charm.

CANDIED CITRUS PEEL

Stores don't seem to be carrying candied lemon and orange peel as much as in the past, it is becoming very expensive, and has questionable additives-- so I all good reasons to make your own. You

Perhaps I'll share that recipe one of these days, but basically I used Joy of Cooking, or you can find numerous sources on the Internet. Some suggest dipping the finished candied strips in confectioners sugar. I prefer granulated sugar for the sparkly look.

You will need at least two free hours, 2 or 3 oranges, 5-7 lemons, a few cups of sugar, water, a pan, a timer,a sharp paring knife and a drying rack (cookie cooling rack--I set mine on top of waxed paper in a cookie sheet). And the bonus is that you get some decorative candy that is even better partly dipped in chocolate. from the left overs.

FINISHING

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!

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 thoughts on “German Christmas Cookie: Elisenlebkuchen

  1. Vivian

    You asked for suggestions about processing the nuts evenly. A recipe in Cook’s Illlustrated suggests that you can mix some of the sugar in with the nuts when you process them, to get them finer without sticking to themselves.

    Reply
    1. Vera Marie BadertscherVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Thanks, Vivian. Are they using a food processor? My problem was not so much that they stick to themselves but that the food processor leaves some larger pieces along with some that are practically ground to meal. I’ve come to the conclusion that toasting them and then chopping them by hand with a chef’s knife is really the only option that lets you have reasonably sized pieces. Sometimes our time saving appliances just don’t quite work the miracles we’d like. Thanks for passing this on, though.

      Reply
  2. Vera Marie BadertscherVera Marie Badertscher Post author

    Thanks, True. I really need to share my method for making it, but if you’ve found a recipe, go for it! Takes time, but really isn’t hard, and looks so beautiful with the Christmas goodies. Have a great holiday!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.