lebkuchen cheer

german christmas cookiesMy infatuation with Deutschland and it’s culture comes largely from my family background- if “Schwietert” (my maiden name) isn’t obvious enough, let me explain.

Both of my parents had ancestors in Deutschland and (at the time) Czechoslovakia. Growing up, I always heard my mom chirping little sayings like “Wie Ghet’s” and “Willkommen.” Aside from bits and pieces of the language I picked up, came the stories and recipes!

This is where lebkuchen, or German christmas cookies come in.

As I was young and don’t remember, my mother refreshed my memory. My mother said “Anna (Krist), niece of my Grandma Anna, would mail us a box of cookies from Worms, Germany each Christmas. The box would be a metal tin, decorated on the exterior with awesome German design and of course, Deutsch writing. It would be filled with little packages of different types of Lebkuchan. Ironically, I didn’t like the cookies, but I loved the box! They were dry and kind of tasteless (hence, my addiction to adding spices to my cooking).”

While we didn’t make traditional lebkuchen, some of my fondest childhood memories were making our family’s version (gingerbread cookies) of these messy monstrosities and frosting them! My first words were the sentence “I want a cookie” and clearly, I’ve had a sweet tooth since! I remember grabbing handfuls of them for my brother and I, jumping on the bed, and watching marathons of Disney shows next to my big brother. Not only delicious, but sweet, savory, and filled with the holiday spirit!

So, as this years Christmas season approaches, please pass the lebkuchen!

Gingerbread Cookies:

This is the recipe my mom used that we rolled out and cut. Most of them got eaten before being hung on the tree…

  • 5 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 c butter
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ c molasses
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Mix dry ingredients. Melt butter in saucepan on low and add sugar and molasses. Cool a little, stir in eggs. Add 4 c of the flour mixture. Gently knead in remaining flour (don’t over mix – dough will get tough). Roll 1/8” thick and cut out shapes. Transfer cookies to greased cookie sheet and bake 375º for 4-12 minutes. Cool slightly before moving to cooling rack to cool completely.

Frost and decorate. Enjoy with loved ones.

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