Ah! All I had to do was take a whiff of the spices that go into these cookies and I was transported into something that spelled Weihnachten! Leise Rieselt der Schnee may as well have been playing in the background. This is a recipe I stopped making once our kids got older, but it's fun to bring it back with little ones around again.
- 1/4 cup butter, soft
- 1/4 cup Crisco
- 1 1/4 cup honey
- 3 eggs
- 6 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons Lebkuchen or Spekulatius Gewuerz*
- 1 teaspoon ground star anise
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* These gingerbread spices can be purchased (as a pkg) from a European Deli. In Chilliwack you can find Abstwinder Lebkuchen Gewuerz at Hofstede's Country Barn, imported from Calgary. The spices are a combination of coriander, cinnamon, cloves,anise, nutmeg, star anise, fennel, cardamom. In Abbotsford you can find Lebkuchen Gewuerz at the Windmill Deli.
- In mixing bowl cream butter and Crisco. Add eggs and honey, beating in well.
- Stir in combined dry ingredients. Using a kitchen machine such as a Kitchen Aid with a hook attachment is helpful.
- Cover and refrigerate for 5 days to let flavors blend.
- Preheat oven to 350° F and prepare baking sheets by greasing - or line with parchment paper.
- Let dough sit at room temp for about 15 minutes. Divide into three parts.
- Lightly dust work surface with flour and work dough into a flat round shape by turning and using the heel of your hand. Roll out, using a fine dusting of flour, to dinner plate size. About 1/3 inch thickness. Cut with desired cookie shapes.
- Bake for 9 minutes or until lightly browned underneath. Ice or decorate with Boiled Icing.
- Store in airtight container in cool place. The cookies just get better as they age.
- Yield: 24 large gingerbread men plus approximately 20 regular sized cookies, such as star shapes.
Boiled sugar-meringue icing ( make 2 times for 4 dozen cookies)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 egg white
- In a medium glass bowl, beat egg white until soft peaks form when you lift beater. Set aside.
- In saucepan, over low / medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil, while stirring.
- Once it keeps boiling, even while stirring, set timer on 3 minutes.
- Keep stirring, while liquid becomes totally bubbly, making sure sugar does not harden on sides of pot. Stir until it begins to feel slightly syrupy, about 2 - 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Slowly, pour into beaten egg white, while mixer is going. (I hold a hand mixer with my right hand and pour hot liquid with my left.)
- Beat for about 2 minutes, until glossy and stiff. Fill piping bag if you wish to outline, or spread by teaspoons onto cookies, using the back of the spoon to smooth. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles while wet. Allow to dry until hard. (several hours or overnight)
Hint: this icing can dry quickly, so cover any icing left in the bowl with a wet tea towel. If icing becomes slightly crusty, add a tsp of water and beat with mixer for a few seconds.