There is something about gingerbread that just smacks of the holidays (just smacks of? I don’t know if I’ve ever said that before). It is both spicy and sweet, and the flavors just seem warming. Do you eat gingerbread for Christmas if you live somewhere in the southern hemisphere? I personally don’t think it would be as gratifying…
But no matter. I’ve already extolled the virtues of having flexible recipes (see: Vegan Cupcakes), being able to cook for those you love no matter their dietary restrictions. This recipe, number two for our pre-Christmas cookie week, is a new take on a true classic. A Central European classic, that is.
Lebkuchen is usually translated as gingerbread, and they are in many ways similar. The main spice in both recipes is ginger, and both contain other spices like nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. However, American gingerbread is made with molasses and German/Austrian Lebkuchen is not. They also take two different forms: American gingerbread is either rolled thin and cut into shapes or baked as a cake, while Lebkuchen are usually big circular disks or, up in Aachen where Lebkuchen are called Printen, large rectangles sometimes imprinted with pictures. These gingerbread cookies are not for decorating, at least not in the cover-with-candy sense.
This vegan version isn’t exactly the same as what you get in the store; it is much lighter in color. I made mine smaller than normal–two or three bite cookies. These do have the same dry chewiness and denseness that German and Austrian Lebkuchen have. That sounds like it’s a bad thing, but it’s not. I promise. Mine are also only single glazed. Traditional Lebkuchen are glazed in a very thin lemon juice/powdered sugar mix before being dipped in chocolate.
These do not need the double glaze. The cookie itself has a gentle spicy flavor with a little kick every now and then which pairs wonderfully with the chocolate coating. You can taste just a hint of honey (that is, if you use honey). It has a unique texture from the combination of flour and almond meal. All-around, these are a great cookie for the holidays, even if they aren’t exactly what your German grandma might bake.
Lona, I highly suggest you try these! I hope they are the sort of vegan recipe you were looking for.
Makes about 3 dozen small cookies
Adapted from Monster Makes
- 2 1/3 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat and 1 1/3 cups white)
- 3/4 cup + 2 T almond meal (mine was relatively coarse, so if your consistency is different it is probably because of the grind of your almonds)
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch each of cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2/3 cup honey or agave
- 1/3 cup + 2 T olive oil
- 1 T cornstarch mixed with 3 T water
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3.5 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate (make sure it’s vegan, if you want these to be vegan!)
- 1 tsp honey or agave
- optional: sliced or slivered almonds for decorating
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, almond meal, spice, baking powder, and baking soda). Add in the remaining ingredients and work until the dough forms a solid mass. It will be on the dry side!
Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and gently roll each into a ball. Place on the parchment paper, then press down gently. Think double-stuffed Oreo size, maybe a little fatter. The cookies can go relatively close to one another on the baking sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies just barely darken.
Once the cookies are cool, melt chocolate with 1 tsp honey or agave in a double boiler. Dip or spoon melted chocolate over cookies. If you like, decorate cookies with almond slices or slivers while the chocolate is still warm.
Question: What are you cooking up for the holidays? Let me know in the comments!