Friday, January 2, 2015

Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread) Brownies

I know. I know. What's with schlepping more holiday recipes into the New Year. I couldn't help it you see. I had one lone envelope of lebkuchen spices I brought back from my last trip to Germany that had a (blinking) expiration date on it. I had to use it or lose it. It was practically scolding me in German. 

I suppose I could have saved this recipe for December 2015 but these came out SO amazing, I just had to share.

These chewy, luscious brownies are loaded with German lebkuchen flavor both in the brownie itself and in the frosting.

Lebkuchen is a spice mix similar to gingerbread used in German holiday baking. You can substitute equal amounts of any gingerbread spice mix in this recipe. A run of the mill gingerbread spice mix contains powdered versions of ginger, clove, nutmeg and allspice. Sometimes there is cardamom and/or black pepper thrown in. Lebkuchen has anise seed and/or star anise, infusing the mix with a hint of licorice flavor. A good recipe for lebkuchen spice can be found here.

They taste amazing without the frosting as well. So if you are counting calories as part of your New year's resolution, you can skip the frosting. 

I'm just sayin'.

Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread) Brownies
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes 
Yield: 2 dozen brownies

For the Lebkuchen Brownies:
  • 1+ 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons lebkuchen or gingerbread spices 
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 + 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature 1+ 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)
  • 4 large eggs
  • Powdered sugar for decoration (if desired) 
For the Lebkuchen Frosting:
  • 2 teaspoons lebkuchen or gingerbread spice
  • 1 + 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted softened butter
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1+1/2 cups powdered sugar 

Make the brownies:
  • Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. 
  • Grease a 9 X 12-inch baking pan, line with parchment paper. Let the paper overhang at least 2 inches on all sides. Grease the paper inside the pan. 
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, lebkuchen or gingerbread spices, espresso powder and salt. Set aside. 
  • Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips and the unsalted butter together over a double boiler. 
  • Whisk in the white granulated sugar, pure vanilla extract and, if desired, the bourbon. 
  • Once the sugar dissolves, remove the mixture from heat and let the mixture cool completely. 
  • Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and lightly beat them with a fork. 
  • Add the beaten eggs to the cooled butter, chocolate, sugar mixture and whisk briskly until the eggs have been completely combined into the batter. 
  • Fold the mixture into the dry ingredients and scrape the brownie batter into the prepared pan. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. 
  • Remove from oven, let stand in the pan 15 minutes, then use the overlapping parchment paper to transfer the uncut brownies to a wire rack. 
  • Let the brownies cool completely before frosting. 
Make the Frosting:
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the lebkuchen or gingerbread spice mix with the espresso powder and pinch of salt. 
  • Place the unsalted butter and unsweetened cocoa powder in a mixer, beat until combined. Add the pure vanilla extract and the heavy cream. 
  • Stop the mixer and add the powdered sugar. Turn the mixer on the lowest speed and mix until the powdered sugar is completely incorporated into the frosting. 
  • If the frosting is too thick for your liking, add some more heavy cream a teaspoon at a time until you achieve the desired consistency. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar to stiffen it a bit. 
  • Use a pastry knife to spread the frosting over the brownies. 
  • Cut into squares, plate and serve.

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