Honey-based spice cookies dominate the German Christmas cookie landscape. The most notable are Pfeffernüsse and Lebkuchen cookies. Around this time of year, Trader Joe’s carry Lebkuchen cookies made in Nürnberg, Germany. They are so, so delicious!! They are chewy, spicy, and contain candied citrus peel and nuts. No, this post isn’t about Lebkuchen or Pfeffernüsse cookies, but instead a related honey cookie recipe that I came across in an old edition of The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. What attracted me to this recipe is that it does not contain fats from butter or oil. I wanted to see what this butterless cookie would end up tasting like.
I didn’t capture on film a step-by-step account of my cookie making this time around–sorry! In sum, you basically mix together sugar, spices, candied citrus peel, lemon zest, eggs, honey (brought to a boil and then cooled), and flour (with baking soda) in a bowl, set it overnight for at least 12 hours–yes, this is a two-day affair–drop it by the spoonful onto greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets, bake for a short time, glaze them, and they are done.
Below is a photo of the cookies baked and just out of the oven. They are pretty large, like 4 inches across. They spread a bit while baking, but I found that the lighter the baking pan, the less they spread and the higher they rise. When still warm, they are rather delicate, so be careful when transferring to a wire rack to cool. [Note: It is better to bake the cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets because on the greased-only pan, they stuck a little for me.]
Here I am in the middle of glazing the cookies.
Here are the glazed cookies set on a wire rack until the glaze hardened.
Here is my assessment of these butterless cookies: They have got to be THE most delicious, Old World style spice cookies that I’ve ever eaten! They are light, moist, chewy, and pleasantly spiked with citrus peel. Yes, they take two days to make, but you’ll find that it’s well worth the extra effort.