The Great Big Cookie Book sounds mighty fancy. And actually the photography makes some of the recipes look mighty fancy too, along with ingredients like muscovado sugar and lavender. All this fanciness means it holds some truly beautiful Christmas recipes but when spatula goes to mixing bowl you soon realise that beautiful photography and fancy ingredients does not a functional recipe book make. Nevertheless I was totally taken by the idea of Lebkuchen.
Lebkuchen?! Think gingerbread decorated in chocolate and nuts and glace cherries. Oh my! The Great Big Cookie Book recipe is a bit crap though, so here is my adapted edition. Much like the Spicy Sweet Nuts, these too are mighty fine for gifting.
To make around 20 Lebkuchen treats you will need:
- 115g of unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup of light muscovado sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/3 cup of treacle
- 3 and a half cups of self raising flour
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1/2 a teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1/4 of a teaspoon of ground chilli
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy before beating in the egg and black treacle. Sift the remaining ingredients together and then mix (or food process) into the butter and sugar mixture. Feel free to adjust the quantities of spices to your preferences. Personally, I added a little bit extra. I also found that using the quantities above the end result was very dry. Add extra treacle until it forms a stiff but smooth (think cookie dough) like paste. Chill for 30 minutes.
Turn on the oven to preheat at 180 degrees Celsius. Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and roll it out with a rolling pin. Do not roll it too thin, the cookies should be about 3cm deep each. Use a circle cookie cutter (or a glass) to cut out circles of dough. Bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees. Once cooked allow the cookies to cool completely before decorating.
and to decorate:
- Chocolate to melt – (two blocks of Whittakers would do the trick)
- 3/4 of a cup of walnut halves
- 1 packet of glace cherries cut into halves
- 1 cup of blanched almonds
The original recipe called for some overly complicated concoction involving water and sugar and chocolate which ends up just sticky and annoying. I followed that instruction and it was ridiculous. Instead I think keep it simple. Melt your chocolate over a double boiler (bowl above boiling pot of water). DO NOT ALLOW THE WATER TO TOUCH THE BOTTOM OF YOUR BOWL (that mucks up the melting chocolate).
Once melted pour over your cool cookies. This is super dooper messy so it may be an idea to put a wire rack in a roasting tray and place the cookies on the rack.
Place a walnut halve in the centre of each cookie and arrange the almonds and glace cherries in a round as in the cookies pictured above. Allow to set in a cool place.