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Hungarian honeycakes have been produced nearly as long as the gingerbread cookies in Poland and the Czech Republic. The old cookie boards from Hungary feature beautiful carvings of kings and queens and Hussars mounted upon their steeds. This spiced cookie is made without ginger, but plenty of other spices take its place in making this flavorful cookie. This recipe calls for 1 package of honeycake spices and I have no idea of where to find those. In the meantime, I will search for another recipe for this cookie which is more specific as to the ingredients needed.

1 to 2 C. honey (the more, the better)

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

2/3 C. sugar

1 C. whole wheat flour (have extra flour ready)

1 tsp. baking soda

1 pkg. honeycake spice mix (contains cinnamon, lemon peel, aniseed)

Confectioner's sugar, egg white and food coloring (optional) for the icing

Mix the ingredients together. Knead the dough, while adding enough flour to make a dough which will not stick to your hands. Roll the dough out, but not very thin! Cut desired designs from the rolled dough and brush with a little egg yolk. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at medium heat until the honeycakes are a nice reddish color on top. Be very careful as these cookies can burn easily. When cool, decorate honeycakes by piping a thick icing made from the confectioner's sugar, egg white and food coloring.

Note: If using this recipe to make molded cookies, omit the part of the recipe which asks to roll and cut the dough. Instead, flour a wooden cookie board and press the dough into the mold. Trim away any excess dough, knock the cookie out of the mold, place on the greased baking sheet and brush with egg yolk.

Tirggeli, or Tirggel as it is commonly called, have been a Swiss tradition for over four centuries. The molds which shape these cookies are always of a round design and usually carry a religious theme. You will find an example of a tirggeli mold in the Activity section of this site. It is the round mold with the design of the Nativity. What sets these cookies apart from other molded gingerbread cookies is that the recipe includes ingredients like rosewater and anise. Anise is a flavor that is usually reserved for springerle recipes. Below is a recipe for tirggeli from the Zurich area of Switzerland. The recipe comes from the book, Aachti Schwizer Chuchi (Genuine Swiss Kitchen), by Marianne Kaltenbach.

1 3/4 C. honey

1/3 C. powdered sugar

3-4 Tbsp. rosewater

flour as necessary

pinch of ground ginger, anise, coriander, clove and nutmeg

XXWarm the honey, mix in the powdered sugar and spices. Thin to a syrup with rosewater. After cooling, knead in as much flour as necessary to make a firm, smooth dough. Roll the dough out until 2 mm thick. Brush the wood form with oil, lay the dough onto it, and press the dough into the mold. Cut the tirggel edges smoothly. Place the tirggel on a buttered and floured cookie sheet, place in the oven at 425°F for 1-2 minutes. The tirggel can take just a little color on the upper surface. If they are baked too long, they will be inflexible and brittle.

XXLebkuchen have enjoyed a long standing tradition in Germany, especially in Nurenburg. Each year a large Christmas market is held in Nurenburg and there are many stands offering Lebkuchen cookies. Lebkuchen are also popular in other regions of Germany, as well as Switzerland. These cookies are sometimes molded and other times just cut with a cookie cutter or sliced into bars.

For the Cookies:

2/3 C. honey

2/3 C. brown sugar

1 egg

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. lemon rind

2 2/3 C. flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. anise

1/2 tsp. mace

1/2 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. cardamom

1/2 C. chopped citron

1/2 C. chopped almonds

For the Glaze:

1 C. sugar

1/4 C. confectioner's sugar

1/2 C. water

whole blanched almonds - for decoration

candied cherries - for decoration

XXHeat honey to boiling, cool. Add brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and rind, flour, baking soda and spices. Mix well. Stir in citron and almonds. Chill dough for several hours. Roll dough 1/4-inch thick and cut into diamonds or circles. Put 1/2 almond or 1/2 cherry on each cookie. Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake at 400°F for 10-12 minutes. For a softer cookie, try 9 minutes. While the cookies are baking, bring the sugar and water to boiling in a small saucepan. Boil 3 minutes; stir in confectioner's sugar. Brush hot cookies with hot glaze, cool on wire racks. Store in a tightly covered container to mellow. These cookies will taste better with age.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

German postcard from 1911 showing Father Christmas baking Christmas cookies.
German Father Christmas carrying tree - 20th century