A few Christmases ago, my family and I spent an amazing week in Germany to take advantage of the outdoor Christmas markets– we had a fantastic time, indulging in innumerable sausages and mugs of mulled wine, and of course the traditional lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies). That being said, the traditional recipe wasn’t my favorite– the cookies were somewhat dry, and the flavor profile seemed to be missing something, at least to my American palate. I much preferred the less traditional confection that was being billed by one seller as “lebkuchen,” but which had a lot more “oomph” to it, being sandwiched with jam and marzipan, and coated in chocolate. I found out later that these were not technically lebkuchen, but were actually “Dominosteine,” which were popularized in the 1930s and which are basically gingerbread petits fours.
In any event, whatever they’re called they’re delicious– this recipe keeps the slightly dry lebkuchen layer (it moistens over time), but instead of sandwiching the jam and marzipan between two cookie layers, they’re both layered on top. I also simplified the process by dispensing with the whole “dipping in chocolate” step and simply using the chocolate as a thin top layer. The finished product is spicy, sweet, and Christmas-y– just tasting it takes me back to that lovely Christmas in Germany!
The recipe makes an entire 13×17″ half-sheet pan worth of cookies, which is a LOT when you’re cutting them into small squares, but which makes these perfect for gift-giving!
- 1 cup honey
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 7 tbsp butter
- 3 cups flour, all-purpose
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 3 tbsp cocoa
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp rum
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 13×17″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. (you absolutely need the parchment so you can remove the cake from the pan later!)
- In a small saucepan, combine honey, sugar, and butter over medium heat and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, combine flour, spices, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
- In a medium bowl, beat eggs with rum until well-combined. Add honey/butter mixture and whisk until smooth.
- Slowly add dry ingredients and stir to form a thick batter.
- Spread batter evenly into parchment-lined baking sheet and smooth with an offset spatula. Make it as level as possible– the batter will not do much to smooth out while baking.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside.
- 3/4 cup apricot jam
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp water
- Using a mini food processor or hand blender, puree jam until smooth.
- In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and water, then pour into pureed jam.
- Heat jam until it bubbles and thickens from the cornstarch slurry. Let cool slightly.
- 2 7-oz packages of almond paste
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 8-12 oz. powdered sugar (2-3 cups)
- Using a mixer, combine almond paste and corn syrup until well-mixed.
- Add powdered sugar a cup at a time to form a soft dough. You’ll want to turn it out onto a sugar-dusted board to do the final kneading.
- 2 tbsp spiced rum
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- (optional) Brush top of the cooled biscuit with rum.
- Spread still-warm apricot jam over the biscuit layer, getting all the way out to the edges.
- Roll out marzipan to the same size as the biscuit layer and lay over the jam. Don’t worry if you have cracks, or have to do this in sections– chocolate covers all!
- Heat chocolate chips over a simmering water bath or in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring until smooth and melted. Pour over marzipan layer and smooth with offset spatula.
- Let chocolate set for about 15-20 minutes before removing the whole thing from the pan and slicing into squares with a clean knife (wipe it with a damp paper towel between cuts).
- Note: if you let the chocolate set completely it will shatter when you cut into the cookie, so cut it before it sets completely hard. Alternatively, if you let it set hard, you can flip over the entire pan so the chocolate is facing the cutting board, and cut it from the cake side– this will keep the chocolate from cracking as badly, though it still won’t be as clean as cutting it when it’s just set.
Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.