Friday, 12 December 2014

cover to cover project: holiday cookies {lebkuchen}

this year I'm participating in a holiday cookie challenge, courtesy of one of my favourite blogs, The Bitten Word.  readers and fellow bloggers alike have each been assigned one cookie recipe to make from a variety of December magazines.


for those of you that don't know, lebkuchen is a delicately spiced German molasses-ginger cookie which closely resembles gingerbread  

a soft, cakey, spiced middle and confectioners' glaze makes for Christmas cookie perfection.
the only thing that would make these cookies more enjoyable is if i were eating them in a castle perched on a german mountain top.



truthfully i was half expecting to be assigned shortbread cookies (also secretly hoping since they're my favourite) but i'm actually glad that i was assigned this cookie instead, since we are both of german heritage.  fate?
you might be surprised to learn that i even took german language classes in high school. and you'll be pleased to know i can still recite 3 solid sentences.  too bad those sentences revolve around describing what colour eyes and hair my sister has, and my birthday, which is obviously crucial information in all languages.

cheers. 
auf wiedersehen.


Lebkuchen


ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon white vinegar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons minced candied orange peel
2 tablespoons minced candied lemon peel
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup blanched whole almonds
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
5 tablespoons whole milk

method:
in a small bowl, stir the cream and vinegar together and let stand until thickened, about 30 minutes.

preheat the oven to 325F.  in a medium bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour with the almond flour, candied orange and lemon peels, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.  in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the brown sugar with the shortening and molasses at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  add the thickened cream and beat until smooth.  add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined.

line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  working in 2 batches, using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure, scoop the dough into mounds on the prepared sheets, spacing them 3 inches apart.  place 3 whole almonds in a star pattern on top of each cookie and, with the palm of your hand, gently flatten each mound slightly.

bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking.  let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

in a small, wide bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar with the milk until smooth.  dip the top of each cookie in the glaze, letting the excess drip back into the bowl.  transfer the cookies to a rack an let stand until the glaze hardens, about 10 minutes.

yields:  18 cookies

make ahead:  the lebkuchen can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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