Candied citrus peel, finely chopped (4 ounces)
Rum, preferably gold or dark
1 1/2 cups
Whole almonds (7 ounces)
Sugar, divided (7 ounces)
1 1/2 cups
All-purpose flour (7 ouonces)
1 1/2 teaspoons
Light molasses or sorghum syrup
Zest of 1/2 lemon
90mm Back oblaten (optional)
Whole blanched almonds (optional)
Powdered sugar (3-1/2 ounces)
In This Recipe
Combine the chopped citrus peel and rum in a small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside for at least 15 minutes.
Combine the almonds and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of a food processor (a good blender will also work in a pinch). Process until the almonds have been ground to a fine meal.
Transfer the almonds to a medium bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Stir well to combine.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar, molasses or sorghum syrup and lemon zest until foamy. Add the nut mixture and the soaked citrus peel (with any rum in the bottom of the bowl) and stir until just combined. The dough will be quite sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Using a ¼-cup ice cream scoop, scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, leaving at least an inch between each cookie. If you are using the back oblaten, arrange them on a parchment-lined sheet pan and then scoop the dough into the center of each one. Use your fingers to gently flatten the tops of cookies until they are ½ inch thick (wetting your hands makes this a little easier). If you are using back oblaten, leave a ¼-inch border of wafer around the cookie dough. Place three almonds very close together in the center of each lebkuchen (they spread as the lebkuchen cook). Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pans after 12 minutes, until the cookies are set but still soft in the middle. When in doubt, pull them sooner rather than later.
While the lebkuchen are baking, make the glaze: Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl to remove any lumps. Add the lemon juice and hot water and whisk until smooth.
When the cookies are done, let them cool for a minute or two then transfer to a wire rack set over a parchment-lined sheet pan (to catch glaze drips). Brush the warm lebkuchen with glaze. Repeat if desired. Let the glaze dry completely (an hour or so) before storing.
Store lebkuchen in an airtight container with a small handful of apple peels or a slice of apple or orange. This keeps the cookies moist. The cookies will keep for up to 6 weeks this way and they get better as they age and the spices and citrus oils continue to blend.
A NOTE ON INGREDIENTS:
I prefer sorghum syrup for these cookies, which can be hard to find outside the South. But if you can get your hands on a bottle, its bright sweetness and tart edges will elevate these lebkuchen to some of the finest Christmas cookies around. Light molasses produces great lebkuchen as well. I think dark and blackstrap molasses overwhelm the flavor of the citrus and spice.
Also, I finally found a local source for back oblaten, the thin, edible wafer rounds traditionally used for lebkuchen! If you are in Seattle, you can buy them at PFI. They are also available from specialty sources on the internet. I have made these cookies many times without them, though, and back oblaten are not at all necessary for delicious lebkuchen.