Chewy Spiced Cookies
Germany's famed lebkuchen Christmas cookies are chewy and moist, with the seasonal flavors of warm spices, toasted nuts, and candied fruit. They get even better in the days following baking, so try not to eat them right away.
Step 1: Stir Together Nuts and Dry Ingredients
Stir together ground toasted nuts with almond meal, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, powdered ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cardamom, and salt.
Step 2: Chop Dried Fruit
Combine dried fruit with a portion of the dry ingredients and pulse to finely chop; the dry ingredients will help prevent the sticky dried fruits from clumping as you mince them.
Step 3: Add Remaining Dry Ingredients
Once the dried fruits are minced, add the remaining dry ingredients and pulse to combine.
Step 4: Beat Butter and Sugar
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until creamy.
Step 5: Add Honey, Egg, and Vanilla
Beat in honey, egg, and vanilla until well combined.
Step 6: Beat in Dry Ingredients
At very low speed, add the dry ingredients by the heaping spoonful (to avoid powder eruptions) and beat until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again until evenly combined.
The finished dough should be well combined. If you're making bars, it's ready to be scraped onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and baked. If making individual cookies, chill the dough for at least 4 hours before scooping into 2-tablespoon mounds and baking in a 350°F oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of cookies comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool slightly on a rack, about 15 minutes, then follow remaining directions beginning with Step 10.
Step 7: Scrape Onto Lined Baking Sheet
If making bars, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, allowing the ends to overhang, and scrape the dough onto it.
Step 8: Smooth Dough
Spread the dough out into a smooth, even layer.
Step 9: Bake
Bake in a 350°F oven until cookie is dimpled on surface and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly on a rack, about 15 minutes.
Step 10: Make Glaze
In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar with the kirsch, Grand Marnier, or rum.
Step 11: Whisk Well
Whisk the kirsch (or other alcohol) and confectioners' sugar thoroughly.
Step 12: Thin With Water
Add enough water, whisking well, to form a spreadable glaze.
Step 13: Pour Glaze on Warm Cookie
Pour glaze onto warm cookie (or cookies, if making individual ones).
Step 14: Spread Glaze
Spread the glaze in an even layer all over cookie or cookies.
Step 15: Let Cool, Then Cut
Let cool until glaze sets. If making bars, cut into sections. The cookies will keep up to 2 weeks in a sealed container at room temperature, and will improve in texture and flavor after the first day. (Try not to eat them until at least 1 day after making.)