Lebkuchen, literally translated to a very sweet cake, designates spiced molded biscuits, often sold as loaf cakes. The honey-sweet German cookies have stood the test of time, and they’ve been introduced to the rest of the world as an exquisite take on a classic, long-time-admired gingerbread; however, these European Christmas treats are more versatile than that! Today we’re going to look at Lebkuchen cookies in-depth and guide you through the challenging quest of discovering new sweet treats to welcome toothsome new year prepared!
A Long-Standing Tradition from Nuremberg!
Some say Honigkuchen (honey cake) might have been a progenitor of these sweet treats, originating from Teutonic times. However, it wasn’t until the 13th century that Lebkuchen was officially documented at the baking guild in Silesia. Soon, these sweet biscuits traveled to Nuremberg, where they got a shocking makeover. They say it was the beekeepers of Nuremberg that brought fame to the town’s treasured treats, but the great success of Lebkuchen is equally tied to the economic life of the city.
Nuremberg was located at the junction of the worldwide trading route, meaning every possible spice was readily available for local bakers to use. So, it’s no surprise that the Nuremberg specialty calls for cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, and various other spices for preparing the perfectly aromatic gingerbread cookies. However, that’s not all - apart from adding that instantly recognizable aroma, spices also act as preservatives, extending the shelf life of these tasty delights, which was much bigger of a deal back in the 13th century.
What about beekeepers, you might ask. Well, Lebkuchen calls for honey, our favorite natural sweetener, and the city happened to be near the Reichswald Forest, also known as “The Imperial Bee Garden.” The wild-bee keepers of the Reichswald were the sole harvesters of famous honey as granted by the exclusive right issued by Emperor Charles IV, and, we’re pretty sure, most of it was used for preparing these moreish cookies!
Lebkuchen became the ultimate national treat after 1487 when Emperor Friedrich III gifted 4000 children tasty gingerbread cookies with his image printed on them. While we guess children’s parents might have had a time of their lives biting the head off the Emperor’s shoulders, they also fell in love with the enchanting nutty aroma and soft interior - trying to replicate the recipe for years to come, making Lebkuchen cookies a mainstay around the country.
To stock up your sweet treasure trove with authentic German aromas, all you have to do is scroll through our selections of Lebkuchen. However, to save you some time, we have devised a quick, little list of all of the treats you must pick up when going on a hunt for luscious gingerbread cookies.
Gingerbread cookies with nuts & kernels are the ultimate treat for chocolate lovers with a taste for German Lebkuchen. These tasties are pleasantly dense yet quite soft to bite because they are made with 20% of the finest nuts. Oh, and those aromatic apricot kernels add a one-of-a-kind enticing flavor to Wicklein’s gingerbreads, making them a match made in cookie heaven for pairing with mulled wine or even eggnog!
Meistersinger Lebkuchen cookies are traditionally baked delights, presented with alluring sugar icing on top that instantly catches your attention whenever you need a sweet pick-me-up. Made using hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, and cashew kernels, these treats will deliver whatever your sweet tooth lacks! Just look at them - it’s needless even to say, but there are no regrets with Meistersinger!
Let’s wrap up with soft Lebkuchen cookies, ideal for chocolate-loving hearts! These beautifully-shaped treats are coated with wonderfully rich chocolate layers, hiding classic gingerbread underneath. Coming in various shapes, such as “let’s make-up” hearts, cute flowers, and breakfast pretzels, with Lambertz, you’re bound to find your favorite, delicious eye candy!
The Ultimate Royalties of Lebkuchen!
Classic Lebkuchen is a simple yet versatile delight with a couple of variations, so if you like having the luxury of choice just as much as we do, let’s look at some of the tastiest takes on German gingerbread!
Nuremberg was the birthplace of the finest Lebkuchen variety - Elisenlebkuchen, even assigned the Protected Designation of Origin (PGI) by the EU. The Creme de la Creme cookies from Nuremberg are nearly flourless with the highest content of nuts (usually over 45%), loved for their fragrant aroma & soft texture. According to food historians, Elisenlebkuchen might be traced back to a famous baker whose daughter fell ill, and the sorrowful dad prepared a unique type of Lebkuchen to cheer her up. He only used honey, traditional spices, nuts, and nearly no flour. Named after the baker’s daughter - Elisabeth, Elisenlebkuchen has become a fabled culinary phenomenon, not only in Nuremberg but throughout Europe, too.
To savor the famous Elisenlebkuchen, you must give our yummy collection of Kreutzkamm a look. Founded in 1825 in Dresden, the brand has mastered the culinary art of various traditional sweets; however, Elisenlebkuchen is something the brand is incredibly proud of. Here are some of our favorite treats to please a crowd.
Assorted Elisenlebkuchen cookies will most definitely give you a taste of childhood nostalgia, no matter if you snacked on this German treat or not! The secret ingredient, Lebkuchengewurz - signature spice mix adds a pack of the universally shared sensation of care-free deliciousness, magically transporting you to your happy place, and with three different flavors, you’re going to be traveling a lot.
- Assorted Elisenlebkuchen in a gift box is the perfect gift for anyone missing their comfort food and mythically delicious flavors of home. The assortment is adorned with eye-catching, colorful tin for making a great first impression. However, it’s secondary to what’s awaiting you inside - chocolate-covered, glazed white, and almond-topped gingerbread cookies. To kick your tastings up a notch even further, just pair them with coffee, and enjoy!
Aachener Printen are another type of Lebkuchen cookies, usually sweetened with sugar beets syrup instead of honey. Even though information about their origin is scarce, Aachener Printen are thought to be inspired by Belgian pastry - Couques de Dinant. Some food historians believe after Belgian artisans relocated to Aachen, they must have brought the beloved recipe along - that’s how engraved cookies became one of the region’s staples and soon enough infused with fabled Lebkuchen. So, Aachen is not only home to a UNESCO heritage site, where Charlemagne is buried, but it’s also a birthplace of famous low-moisture, hard gingerbread Aachener cookies made nearly without water. To savor PGI (the Protected Geographical Indication) preserved treats, have a look at Printen cookies by Lambertz and enjoy dunked in your herbal cuppa!
Now it’s time for the last, but not by any means least - widely enjoyed festive Pfeffernüsse cookies! They are often blended with traditional gingerbread to create the perfect sweet snack packed with the best flavors of both worlds. Eye-catching cookies are also known as Pepernoten and are usually served on the night of December 5th to celebrate the nearing of St. Nicholas Day! Pfeffernüsse cookies are typically made with various nuts and white pepper, adding a warming sensation to the flavor profile. Similar cookies are dearly loved in Denmark and the Netherlands, too.
Pfeffernusse cookies with chocolate are irresistibly yummy treats from the famous Weiss brand. The soft crunch of these unique delights will taste even better when dunked into Crema Cappuccino. Even though they are great year-round, they taste even better when paired with festive beverages, such as fabled Gluhwein, classic eggnog, or even a steaming cup of hot chocolate with a dash of cinnamon.
- The assorted chocolate Pfeffernusse cookies will be the ideal option for indecisive foodies. Who doesn’t like having choices?! Sugar-glazed or chocolate-covered? With Weiss, you don’t even have to choose. Jazz up your collection - give both of them a try and crown the winner. However, we have to warn you - it’s nearly impossible to pick from these classic tastes. Pair with your favorite cuppa to keep yourself warm with unmatched flavors of Germany, and enjoy!
From perfectly soft and fragrant Elisenlebkuchen to dense, caramelly Aachener Printen, with Yummy Bazaar, you can travel the world of German Lebkuchen just by scrolling through our selection. Treat yourself to your well-loved comfort treats from home or new flavors, pick your favorite, and voila! Now the only thing left to decide is if you want to pair your Lebkuchen cookies with Gluhwein or eggnog!