Honey Gingerbread Cookies

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When we were travelling in Prague and Poland at Christmas a few years back, we fell in love with lebkuchen and pirniki, German and Polish gingerbreads. They are hard to find in Tokyo, so this year I decided to try making some myself. There is a bewildering variety of European gingerbread so settling on a single recipe was impossible. I selected two and they are both quite delicious. I'm republishing them here with my adaptations so that I can come back to them next Christmas.

Honey Lebkuchen
makes 6 dozen squares
(original recipe: http://germanfoodguide.com/recipes.cfm?recipe_number=68)

1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1.5 cups honey
1 T cinnamon
1 t cloves
1/4 t coriander
1/4 t cardamom
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t allspice
pinch nutmeg
5 cups white flour
5 t baking powder
2.5 cups almonds powder/flour
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
3 T raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, chopped
50g candied orange peel, chopped 

1 .75 cups powdered sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
blanched, skinless whole almonds (optional)

Cream eggs and sugar. Drizzle in honey (if it is thick, gently heat to liquid), stirring to blend. Mix in flour, spices, baking powder, nut flours. Fold in chopped nuts and fruits. Turn the dough onto a parchment paper on your baking tray. Press or smooth the dough to about 2 cm thick. 

Bake at 150C/300F for about 40 minutes.

Mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice, adjusting with water if needed to create a thick liquid consistency. Spread the glaze evenly over the gingerbread while still warm. Decorate with blanched almonds. Cut into squares when cool.

Store in an airtight container. The flavours develop with time, so doing this in advance is a great idea.

Torun Pirniki
makes several dozen
(original recipe: http://turkugingerbread.blogspot.jp/2011/11/thorner-kathrinchen-catherines.html)

300 g honey
60 g butter
60 g sugar
1 t coriander
1 t cardamom
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch cloves
pinch ginger
3 t baking powder
50 g almond flour
370 g while flour
1 egg yolk

Gently heat the butter, honey and sugar until the butter melts. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine dry ingredients. Pour in the honey mixture. Add the egg yolk. Mix thoroughly. Roll out to 1/4" thickness and cut with cookie cutter. Bake at 170C/350F for 7 - 8 minutes or until golden brown.

Glaze with the same lemon glaze as above or dip and drizzle with chocolate, ganache, or glaze.

Store in an airtight container.

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