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chocolate covered lebkuchen

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Lebkuchen are rather indulgent spiced honey cookies and I’ve taken the indulgence to the next level here – by filling them with jam and dipping them in chocolate.

I’ve always wanted to dip SOMETHING in chocolate. I’ve had mediocre success with truffles – I’d normally shape them out of dark, milk or white chocolate ganache and roll them in cocoa, icing sugar or desiccated coconut. Chocolate coated seemed a challenge and proved one – truffle half-melting in the chocolate, skewered on a cocktail stick which I then brandished, frowning at it to set, thinking how to stick my arm in the fridge to chill the truffle, finally stabbing the cocktail stick into an orange to put in the fridge where it inevitably collapsed, ruining the truffle.

Cookies turned out to be a doddle. The tricky bit is when you lose one in the chocolate or they fall off the fork (see instructions below) and on some the excess of chocolate formed quite large ‘feet’, desirable in macarons but not in biscuits. Buy couverture chocolate; already tempered for malting and coating which will save you the bother of tempering it yourself.

chocolate covered lebkuchen

Servings: about 2 dozen, depending on the sizeTime: 2 hours plus chilling dough

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g plain flour
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 300g set or 200ml runny honey
  • 85g (6 tbsp.) butter
  • For the filling:
  • thick jam or marmalade
  • For the coating:
  • 400g good quality cooking dark, milk or white chocolate (or make a mix but that's twice as much work of course)

METHOD

Mix all the dry ingredients: flour, almonds, baking powder, baking soda and the spices in a large bowl. Heat up the butter with the honey until it melts, let it cool a little and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix well into a sticky dough. Chill for at least an hour in the fridge.

Turn out the dough onto a generously floured surface, dust with more flour and roll out to about 5mm thickness. Dot the jam or marmalade on the bottom half of the pastry, at least 6-7cm apart. Gently fold the top half over the bottom half and cut around the jam mounds with a pastry cutter. Make sure the edges are well sealed and place the cookies on a baking tray lined with parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Bake the Lebkuchen for 15 minutes and leave to cool still on the parchment sheets on a wire rack.

Tempering chocolate is not essential but it ensures better gloss, crispiness and easier coating. The simple method is to melt two thirds of the amount over a bain-marie (in a bowl set over a pan with simmering water); add the remaining third and stir continuously until it cools down to barely lukewarm (31C for dark, 27C for white); about 10 minutes. The chocolate will stay liquid long enough to dip all the Lebkuchen.

Coat the cookies with the tempered chocolate one at a time. The easiest way is to drop a cookie into the chocolate upside down, turn gently over with a small fork, then lift it with the fork and tap off the excess of chocolate against the rim of the bowl. You can also try scraping it off the bottom very gently with a knife. Set the cookie onto a tray lined with parchment.

When all are covered, leave them on the tray until the chocolate is completely set, best overnight. When set and dry, you can store the Lebkuchen in a biscuit tin for several weeks.

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