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Lebkuchen are Christmas cookies at their best. That’s because these special treats incorporate flavors from all the best holiday cookies, combined into one. Lebkuchen cookies are made with spiced cookie dough using German gingerbread spices (cloves, mace, Saigon cinnamon, star anise, etc.) mixed with candied and zesty orange and lemon peels—and lastly—they’re dipped in a rich, melted dark chocolate.
It’s as if you’ve taken warm little gingerbread cookies, fed them a bit of citrus candy, and then donned them in snug and chocolatey winter coats. However, don’t let festivities (or cold weather) be your only reason for eating these yummy cookies. You can bake and share scrumptious lebkuchen cookies any time of the year. Now isn’t that cozy?
Into a large saucepan, add dried citrus peels and cover with cold water. Bring water to boil over high and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 – 7 minutes. Drain and add peels back into the pan. Cover with fresh, cold water and repeat simmering process two more times.
In a small saucepan, add the following:
water (⅛ cup)
Slowly bring liquid to boil over medium-high and then reduce heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, or until liquid evaporates. Place peels on wire rack to dry before using in recipe (at least 1 hour, and preferably overnight).
Finely chop dry candied peels and set aside.
Place any whole spices in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle and grind each separately to a fine powder. Then measure out all of the ground spices for gingerbread spice mix into a small prep bowl.
Use a food processor to grind almonds to a fine powder.
Use a sharp knife to slice open your vanilla bean lengthwise down the center. With your blade, scrape the caviar out of the bean and set it aside. Discard the pod or use it in other recipes.
In a small to medium mixing bowl, combine the following:
all purpose flour
gingerbread spice mix (see ingredients list)
Whisk to thoroughly combine all your dry ingredients.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together egg and vanilla (caviar). Add candied citrus peel and mix until blended. Slowly pour dry ingredients into wet mixture and continue whisking until completely mixed.
In a small saucepan, slowly heat honey and butter over medium heat, until completely melted. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and then mix into cookie dough.
Cover dough and chill in refrigerator until it’s firm enough to work with (about 30 – 60 minutes).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Transfer dough to a working surface, dusted with flour. Roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness and use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes (or scoop up a tablespoon of dough, lay it on the dusted surface and press it aflat with the palm of your hand).
Transfer cookies to baking sheet in single layer, 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean (about 15 minutes).
Remove from heat and allow to cool on baking sheet. Pop one in your mouth for quality control (*wink*).
Melt coconut oil in a bowl set over saucepan with a small amount of simmering water. Whisk in the following:
Slowly add chocolate chips, stirring to melt them into the mixture.
Once chocolate mixture is completely melted, drop cookies—one at a time—into the velvety chocolate. Turn to fully coat the cookie and then lift out with a fork. Place coated cookie on parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. Repeat this process for dipping the remainder of the cookies in chocolate. Chill in refrigerator until chocolate coating has set.
Serve cookies chilled or at room temperature. Sharing is optional.
Note: tastes differ when it comes to vanilla. Use more or less, depending on your preferred level of pure vanilla flavor.