Dessert General


How much is “a little”? Now I know! It is exactly 50 gram. At least when it comes to candied orange peels. Wasn’t that easy to find out, ya know… When you ask Grandma how much “a little” is, she would say something like “Well! It’s a bit! Not too much! Otherwise it will be too dry! Do you want some soup? Eat more soup!”… But in the end we worked it out! I made the traditional recipe of my grandmother’s gingerbread cookies on my own for the first time… (Directly to recipe)

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The gingerbread cookies were, by the way, my contribution to the annual Cookie Exchange Party! There where foodies from all over Austria. Everyone brought a box of christmas cookies. And then we swapped, so everyone had lots of different ones! What a nice idea!

Click here for the full story about the cookie exchange party with the recipes of the other bloggers!

Below you can find my tips and tricks for the making of the gingerbread.

Granny's traditional Christmas Gingerbread Cookies with chocolate and sugar frosting

Tips and tricks for the preparation of gingerbread

The recipe requires a few special ingredients from the pharmacy or special baking stores. (At least in Austria, you get them at the pharmacy…) Namely, you need potash and hartshorn salt (ammonium carbonate / baker’s ammonia). They help to keep the gingerbread dough fresh for a very long time and help with rising. In contrast to baking powder, potash and hartshorn salt do not react with the dough immediately, so you can let it rest for 24 hours or more.

Granny's Nürnberger Lebkuchen - German Christmas Gingerbread

Tips for preparing the dough

For the dough, I recommend to weigh all the ingredients very carefully at the beginning and not to try too many experiments. I tried for example a version with wholemeal flour which has become ways too dry (despite of more liquid).

First you have to heat butter, honey and sugar. Take a bigger pot in which all the remaining ingredients would fit too. Right at the beginning, you also have to dissolve potash and hartshorn salt in milk. This should be done separately. That means you pour potash into a cup and pour a few tablespoons of milk. And hartshorn salt in an extra cup with milk. Because of the chemical reactionand and so on…

Gingerbread Spices

If gingerbread spice mix is not available at your home country, or you just love diy, you can make your own gingerbread mix, of course.

Tips for baking

I only put one baking sheet in the oven at a time. They do not need too much time in the oven, watch out! When the biscuits only begin to get hard, it’s the right time to get them out. (Does this make sense?)

If the biscuits are quite dark and hard, remove them from the baking sheet immediately, because otherwise they still get too much heat.

Chocolate glaze

For the chocolate glaze I heat about 400g (~14oz / ~0.9lb) of chocolate in a water bath and bit by bit add  some margarine. (Altogether approx. 100g) But half of the chocolate and margarine would have been totally enough!  😉 My biscuits simply had a very very thick layer of chocolate …

Margarine makes the glaze more liquid, so add the pieces bit by bit! Butter, on the other hand, makes the glaze somewhat firmer. If you have taken too much margarine, you can try to add more chocolate and more butter.

Royal icing

For the sugar icing, I mixed egg white with confectioner’s sugar until very stiff. Then I formed parchment cones to decorate the cookies. Here is a nice youtube tutorial for royal icing and here is one for making parchment cones.

Storing the gingerbread

Store in a tin can with paper. If the gingerbread is too hard, store with a piece of hard bread or a piece of apple. Change the apple every 1-2 days. After a few weeks they are the softest!

Here’s the recipe for the christmas gingerbread cookies:

Granny's traditional Christmas Gingerbread Cookies with chocolate and sugar frosting

Granny's Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

Recipe for traditional German gingerbread cookies with hony, rye, candied orange and lemon peels and walnuts.
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Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 54 mins
Servings 4 baking sheets (~25 cookies per sheet)


For the dough

  • 250 g rye flour no wholemeal (this time) {2 9/20 US cups}
  • 250 g all purpose flour {2 US cups}
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g Butter or margarine {0.44 stick, 11/50 US cup}
  • 125 g sugar {0.63 US cups}
  • 375 g honey {1.1 US cup}
  • 125 g walnuts grated{4.41 oz}
  • 25 g candied orange peels {2-3 tbsp.}
  • 25 g candied lemon peels {2-3 tbsp.}
  • 20 g gingerbread spice mix 1-2 tbsp.
  • 10 g potash ~ 2 tsp.
  • 5 g hartshorn salt ~ 1 tsp.
  • 6 tbsp. milk to dissolve potash and hartshorn salt
  • flour for rolling out the dough
  • 1 egg to spread on the cookies
  • 3 tbsp. milk to spread on the cookies


  • rolling pin
  • board
  • cookie box
  • kitchen aid with grater to chop small the candied orange and lemon peels
  • cookie cutters
  • brush

Chocolate glaze

  • 200 g Chocolate {7oz} e.g. mix of dark and milk chocolate
  • 50 g Margarine {0.4 stick, 0.22 US cups}

Royal icing

  • 250 g confectioner's sugar sieved {2 US cups}
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 pinch lemon juice


  • candied cherries
  • almonds


  • Cut very small the candied orange and lemon peels. The best way to do this is to use a kitchen aid with a grater. Alternatively, chop with a knife.
  • Dissolve potash and hartshorn salt in some tbsp. of milk. Do that in separate bowls. (One for potash and one for the hartshorn salt).
  • Weigh butter, honey and lemon and put in a big pot. (Pan must be big enough for the other ingredients later) Heat up on the oven until the sugar is dissolved. Stir constantly.
  • Mix rye flour, all purpose flour and gingerbread spice mix.
  • Remove the honey-butter mix from the heat and gradually add the flour-mix. This can also be done with a hand mixer or a kitchen aid. (With the kneading hook)
  • Add the candied orange and lemon peels and the egg and knead well. At the end, add potash and hartshorn salt and mix well. (With hand or kneading hook)
  • Let rest in the fridge over night.
  • Prepare the board and rolling pin. Always dust with flour. The dough should always be cool and dusted with sufficient flour so that it does not stick. Roll out to appr. 5-7mm.
  • Spread the biscuits with a mixture of an egg and about 3-4 tablespoons of milk before baking.
  • Preheat oven to 175 ° C (347°F) top and bottom heat. At gas stove at low level. Bake on medium rail for about 10 minutes.
  • When the biscuits are cool, glaze with chocolate. Chocolate glaze: Heat chocolate and margarine in a water bath, mix well. Decorate with candied cherries, almonds or leftovers from the orange and lemon peels when glaze is still liquid.
  • When the chocolate glaze is dried, prepare the royal icing: mix sieved confectioner's sugar with egg white and lemon until it is very stiff. Form a parchment cone (or use icing bag) and decorate the gingerbread.
  • Merry Christmas!!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!



In step 3 you mention lemon but you don’t list lemon in the ingredients. Please can you confirm if lemon is needed and if so rind or juice.

Many thanks

Sorry for not being clear in step 3! It should say: “Weigh butter, honey and sugar”. You don’t need lemons, sorry, I just changed that in the instructions! Also, please be aware that gingerbread tastes best a few weeks after baking. They might not be as soft, but if you store them with an apple, they might get softer until christmas.

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