I had never heard of leckerli until a few years ago, and I wish I had. Leckerli is a dense, chewy spice cookie bar from Switzerland. It is made with a heavy dough of honey, nuts, candied fruit and spices. If you had described it to me, I probably would not have been that excited about it. I’m not generally that big on nuts and fruit in my cookies. Leckerli is like nothing else though and we can’t get enough of it. It has totally changed my fruit/nuts in my cookies thing…
These cookie bars used candied orange peel, which is so fun to make homemade if you haven’t. Other that that you just need honey, sugar, almonds, lemon zest, flour, baking soda and spices, and a few tbsp of kirsch or Grand Marnier.
This is a very dense sticky dough, and it needs to sit in the fridge for 2 days before you bake it so this is a plan ahead recipe. After the rest, it is baked and topped with a thin layer of simple glaze.
These cookie bars get hard/crisp at the edges, and very chewy in the center. The chewiness is so perfect, and it is hard to describe it. The cookies are highly spiced, but offset with the strong orange flavor from the peel, and the sweetness of the honey. I could literally eat these every day.
For the cookies:
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup candied orange peel finely chopped
- zest of one lemon
- 2 cups plus 2 tbsp AP flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 2 tbsp kirsch or Grand Marnier
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp water
- Pour the honey and sugar into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Watch carefully to prevent the honey from bubbling over once it boils. Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the candied peel and lemon zest and scrape into a large bowl. Set aside and cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda and spices. Using a sturdy flexible spatula or a wooden spoon, stir the almonds and the kirsch (or other alcohol, if using) into the honey mixture, then gradually add the dry ingredients. You’re going to end up with a very heavy dough.
- Scrape the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper dusted with flour and shape it into a square. Dust the top surface with flour, then sandwich it with another sheet of parchment paper and roll it into a 12-inch square. Don’t worry about precision, but do try to get the dough a scant ½- to ⅓-inch thickness. Slide the sandwiched dough onto a baking sheet, wrap the setup in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 2 days or keep it at room temperature for 1 day.
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.Peel the parchment paper away from the top and bottom of the dough and place the dough on the lined baking sheet. Bake the leckerli for 13 to 15 minutes, or until it is golden and puffy; it may crack, but that’s fine. Simply press the dough back together gently, as it will be soft. Slide the leckerli, still on its parchment paper, onto a cooling rack.
- Meanwhile, combine the confectioner’s sugar, water and kirsch in a bowl and stir until smooth. Using an offset spatula spread the glaze evenly over the entire surface of the warm leckerli. If some drips down the sides, that’s fine. Allow the leckerli to cool to room temperature.
- Carefully slide the leckerli off the parchment and onto a cutting board. Working with a chef’s knife or other long knife, trim the edges and cut the leckerli into 3-inch-wide strips. Now section the strips into ¾-inch-wide cookies. Eat all the tasty crispy edges you cut off. 🙂