Sometimes you want something a little different from the usual run of Christmas cookies. These fit the bill nicely.
Germany has a long tradition of spice-based cookies / bikkies, the most famous probably being the ginger-and-cinnamon-based lebkuchen that first start turning up in recipe books in the 1500’s and have since proliferated all over that part of the world in staggering variety. (A very basic lebkuchen dough, for example, is what’s usually used for the construction of gingerbread houses.) And there are some times of year in central Europe when escaping from lebkuchen seems like an impossibility.
Yet there are cookies in the region that share the same general culinary DNA but diverge in interesting ways. These simple brown biscuits are one sort. There’s no ginger in them at all — which by itself is a touch unusual, gingerbread having so generally overrun the holiday-baking landscape — but their spice quotient is very high, and their aroma gets significantly stronger over time. Opening a tin of them even after just a day or so sealed up lets a cloud of sweet dark fragrance into the air, after which it’s impossible to walk away without eating two or three. Or more. If not quite a lot more.
This is not a same-day cookie: it requires a stay overnight on the kitchen counter, wrapped up, before it’ll be ready to roll out, cut out and bake. Also, due to its northern heritage — it comes from Scheswig-Holstein — this recipe calls for treacle (a.k.a molasses), for depth of flavor, and lard, for additional body and crispness. (If you have trouble getting your hands on lard, you can substitute other solid fats like [UK] Stork or “white fat”, or [US] Crisco, or even butter: but lard works best.)
Ingredients and method under the cut.