Lebkuchenherzen or Gingerbread Hearts are very popular in open air markets such as Christmas Markets, Oktoberfeste, Kirmes or Schützenfeste. They usually hang from ribbons and carry cute sayings in the center. You give them to friends or lovers or your family to express your feelings.
When you bake them at home and decorate them, you can say exactly what you like.
Makes 2 - 3 giant hearts or several smaller hearts. This dough should rest overnight before baking for best results. After they are baked, the cookies will last for months at room temperature.
- 7 T. butter (100 grams)
- 3/4 c. honey (275 grams)
- 5/8 c. (10 tablespoons) sugar (100 grams)
- 2 1/2 T. cocoa powder
- 1 T. Lebkuchengewürz (6 grams spice mixture)
- 5 c. flour (600 grams)
- 1 1/2 tsp. single or double acting baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
Bring the butter, honey, sugar, spices and cocoa powder to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Boil for several minutes until sugar dissolves, then remove from heat and cool slightly.
Sift the flour with the salt and baking powder into a bowl. Make a depression in the bowl and add the egg, then pour the honey mixture over the flour and mix on low speed until a ball of dough can be formed.
The ball of dough might still be shaggy, but will form a smooth dough as it cools down so do not add extra flour.
Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and put in a safe place at room temperature for 4 to 48 hours.
When you are ready, heat the oven to 350°F. Roll out 1/2 of the dough to 1/2 inch thickness on a lightly floured board.
Use a large, heart-shaped cookie cutter or your own template to cut out large, heart shaped cookies.
The hearts in the picture were made using a template I cut from a piece of Letter sized paper (approximately 8 by 10 inches), folded in half and cut into a half heart shape. I trimmed it until I was happy with the shape. Then I placed it on the dough and cut around it with a table knife.
If you want to hang these hearts from a ribbon, create one or two holes about 3/4 of an inch below the rim of the cookie before you bake it.
Repeat with other half of cookie dough. This dough does not re-roll well, so take care to roll it into the right size the first time.
Place the cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until cookies are set in the middle and lightly browned on the bottom. Bake the trimmed scraps to use for practice decorating.
Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet. They will harden as they cool. Although they are edible, this dough is most often used to make decorative cookies which are hung on the wall (or around the recipient's neck) and are seldom eaten.
Use tinted royal icing to decorate the cookies. You only need about half of the recipe, but you will want to practice decorating with your baked scraps and you may want to use several colors, so make the whole batch.
Tint some of the frosting in a separate bowl using normal food coloring. Sometimes, it is nice when the frosting is not completely tinted, creating swirls of lighter and darker colors as you pipe it.
Place the frosting in a decorator bag with a leaf tip attached to make the border. Use a writing tip for the words. More information on filling and using pastry bags here.
Decorate as you like. It is traditional to write cute sayings in the center and give the cookies to people you like.
- "Ich liebe Dich" (I love you)
- "Ich mag Dich" (I like you)
- "Spatzl" (little sparrow)
- "Weil i Di mog" (Because I like you - in Munich dialect)
- "Für mein Mädl" (for my girl)
- "Ich hab Dich (sooo) lieb" (I like you sooo muh)
- "Zum Muttertag (etc.)" (for mother's day)
- "Drücke mich" (hug me)
- "Markus + Claudia" (or Mike + Jen, etc.)
- "Meiner Kuschelmaus" (my snuggle-mouse)
- "No. 1 Lehrer" (Number One Teacher)
- "#1 Mutti" (Number 1 mother, etc.)