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Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch & Paris on my mind

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

We are all one, we may all be different, unique individuals, but still, we are all one.

We were out at a concert and got home late on Friday night, we saw the news on TV and were shocked. Paris had been attacked, but not only this city, everybody who believes in freedom, tolerance and compassion was attacked that night. This wasn’t against a state or against a religious group, it was an attack against individual lives, to make us feel scared, to spread hatred and fear amongst each other, everywhere in the world. We felt shaken on Saturday, we were sad and confused, not knowing where all this would lead to. Why does humankind have to be like this, why can’t we learn from our history? We know all this violence won’t lead anywhere, it will only spread the seeds for even more pain and suffering, and if we continue following this sickening road, nothing will ever change.

Yesterday, we were invited to dinner, to my aunt and uncle’s traditional St. Martin’s celebration feast. We took our bikes and rode through the city, down the Unter den Linden boulevard until we got to the Brandenburg Gate at the Pariser Platz, lit up in blue, white and red, in the colours of le tricolore. We wanted to pass the French embassy which is right there but we couldn’t, we had to stop and get off our bikes, to take a minute for ourselves. Hundreds of candles, flowers and letters all over the pavement, people standing and sitting on the floor, in silence. We didn’t know each other but it’s easier to stand the pain when you can share it. We looked into each other’s eyes, coming from different countries, not sharing the same language, lives and beliefs, but this doesn’t matter, in this moment we all cried and were one.

Later on, when we sat at the dining table together with our family and friends after enjoying a wonderful meal cooked by my aunt Ursula and my uncle Uwe, I felt a little more peaceful again – and safe. We discussed and shared our opinions, some of them were close, others were further apart, but still, we sat at the table together, looked into each other’s eyes and used words to express our feelings, worries and beliefs. Eight individual people, with individual opinions, knowing that we can’t escape the fact that we are all different yet still one.

When we rode home, we stopped in front of the French embassy again and I read a handwritten note – Nous sommes unis. This gives me hope.

There was a lot of silence in the past couple days, we were speechless, no words to express what we felt but it wasn’t necessary either. My boyfriend and I felt the need to sit down together more often than usual, we drank tea and ate cookies. My ginger cookies were made for happier times, but still, they made us feel good, warm and cozy, exactly what we needed.

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

 

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

Makes about 20 cookies

For the cookie dough

plain flour 355g / 2 3/4 cups
baking soda 1 teaspoon
fine sea salt 1/2 teaspoon
cloves, ground in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
allspice, ground in a mortar, 1/8 teaspoon
butter, soft, 130g / 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon
granulated sugar 175g / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
fresh ginger, grated, 1 1/2 tablespoons
cane syrup or molasses 80g / 4 tablespoons
honey 60g / 3 tablespoons
organic egg 1

For the oat crunch

rolled oats 90g / 1 cup
butter, soft, cut into small pieces, 60g / 4 tablespoons
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon

For the cookie dough, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and all spice in a large bowl.

In a second large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and ginger with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the syrup, honey, and egg and mix well. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and mix with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until just combined. Scrape the dough together, leave it in the bowl, and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (an hour would be even better).

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 355°F (preferably convection setting). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

For the oat crunch, mix the oats, butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until crumbly.

Form a spoonful of the cookie dough into a 4-cm / 1 1/2-inch ball. Continue with the remaining dough and spread the balls on the lined baking sheets, leaving enough space, about 5-cm / 2-inch, in between them, they will rise. Lightly flatten the balls with the bottom of a small espresso cup (dip the bottom in water before you touch the dough) and scoop a generous amount of oat crunch on top (see the picture below). Bake in the oven for about 13-15 minutes, the tops of the cookies should be slightly soft when you touch them, don’t overcook them or they will get hard. Let them cool completely.

You can store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

 

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

 

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

 

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

 

gingercookiesoatcrunch12

 

gingercookiesoatcrunch11

Elisenlebkuchen – Juicy Spice Cookies with Bittersweet Chocolate

Lebkuchen

Elisenlebkuchen are essential German Christmas treats! A bite of these juicy spice and chocolate cookies, a sip of my mulled wine and some John Fahey tunes in the background and I’m right in the mood for the 1st Advent!

These dark sweets are a special kind of Lebkuchen, made without any flour or butter but lots of ground hazelnuts, almonds, spices and citrus fruits. They are often compared to gingerbread (which I find difficult as there’s no ginger involved in the recipe), with a similar aromatic juiciness which is no surprise as they combine all the wonderful flavours associated with festive baking, like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, all spice and citrus. A simple Lebkuchen officially becomes the queen of all  Lebkuchen, the fine Elisenlebkuchen, when the dough contains more than 25% of nuts and less than 10% flour. It’s kind of a royal upgrade to keep the quality and protect its tradition. Originally from Nuremberg (Nürnberg in German), the city gained fame all over the world for this sweet delicacy. I remember emptying one package of them after the other as a child at Christmas, preferably the ones covered in bittersweet chocolate. The Nuremberg Lebkuchen are either ‘naked’ or glazed with sugar or chocolate, which were the most popular ones in my family so I had to eat them quick.

After years of stuffing my belly with them under the Christmas tree, the time has come to start the Lebkuchen production at my home. Elisenlebkuchen are often quite big but I wanted a smaller size, just a small bite to enjoy them more often. The preparation is surprisingly easy. The dough can be used as soon as it’s mixed although some bakers recommend keeping it in the fridge overnight. It’s a bit sticky but manageable. You just have to drop a dollop of it on a thin edible wafer paper for cookies (also known as oblate) and put them in the oven until they are golden but still soft inside. The result is almost spongy and so fragrant that it wasn’t easy for me to watch them cool before I could brush them with bittersweet chocolate. When you have a treat like this in front of you, the last thing you want to do is wait!

In the past, certain bakeries were specialised in the production of Lebkuchen all over the country to create their own christmassy signature sweet for their region. The textures and shapes vary, some are cut into squares like in Aachen in the west of Germany, or baked in the shape of hearts like in Bavaria. Elisenlebkuchen are still my favourite, with chocolate of course and preferably in large amounts!

Have a jolly 1st Advent!

Lebkuchen

 

Lebkuchen

 Elisenlebkuchen

For 40 cookies you need

organic eggs (at room temperature) 3
sugar 210g / 7.5 ounces
hazelnuts, roughly chopped, 40g / 1.5 ounces
ground hazelnuts 200g / 7 ounces
ground almonds 80g / 3 ounces
candied lemon peel 50g / 2 ounces
candied orange peel 50g / 2 ounces
lemon zest 2 teaspoons
orange zest 2 teaspoons
ground cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons
ground cardamom 1/4 teaspoon
ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon
ground coriander 1/2 teaspoon
ground allspice 1/4 teaspoon
ground mace 1/4 teaspoon
a pinch of salt
edible round wafer papers for cookies (50mm / 1/4″ diameter), 40
(if you use a bigger size, add a little more dough on each of them and bake the cookies a bit longer)
bittersweet chocolate 300g / 10.5 ounces, for the topping
butter 1 1/2 tablespoons, for the topping
almonds 40, for the topping

Set the oven to 180°C / 355°F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a sauce pan, melt the chocolate and butter for the topping.

Mix the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer for about 7 minutes until light and creamy, there shouldn’t be any sugar crystals left.

Combine the ground nuts, almonds, candied peel, zest, spices and salt and gently stir into the egg sugar mixture with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in the chopped nuts and put a heaped teaspoon of the dough on each round wafer paper. Put the cookies on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 13 minutes or until golden, they should stay soft inside.

Let them cool on a rack before you brush them with the melted chocolate and garnish each of them with an almond.

Lebkuchen

 

Lebkuchen

 

Lebkuchen

 

Lebkuchen

 

Lebkuchen

 

Lebkuchen

 

lebkuchen20

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