Lebkuchenherzen – My vegan version! German gingerbread heart cookies decorated with vanilla buttercream. Perfect for Oktoberfest!
Oktoberfest ended today! Sad face.
I was lucky enough to be able to be in Germany during Oktoberfest a few years ago. And even though I didn’t go to the actual Oktoberfest celebration (thanks a lot, anxiety), just walking through Germany was incredible. The architecture, the people, THE FOOD. MAN OH MAN.
I thought I might have a little trouble being vegan in the sausage and beer capital of the world, but I tried my best to explain to the waiters & waitresses that I don’t eat meat or dairy, and guess what, not one of them looked at me sideways. One of them even went, “ohhh, vegan! I’ll get you the potato dumpling!” It was so refreshing, considering I can’t even order a salad “hold the chicken” in Southern California without getting a sideways look.
I could go on and on and on about the food. I know I sound like a tourist, but they literally serve BASKETS OF PRETZELS like a frickin’ pre-meal bread basket. It’s the most incredible thing. Plus there’s like 5 types of mustard minimum and I like that.
But anyways, there are these gingerbread cookies (lebkuchenherzen translates to ‘gingerbread-hearts’) all throughout Germany that are super popular around holidays, especially during Oktoberfest. They range from small cookies to larger than your head, and they’re meant to be given to a friend or loved one (they’re usually decorated with cute phrases like “I love you” or “My one and only”). I didn’t get to eat one because there’s eggs in them, but I wanted to make some of my own!
How to Make Lebkuchenherzen:
First up, you make a standard gingerbread recipe (shoutout to Pickles & Honey for the recipe), roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick, and cut out heart shapes (this heart-shaped cookie cutter is about 5 inches). Next, you chill the dough, bake it, cool it, and then decorate.
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of royal icing. It’s fun to use but not super fun to eat, so I used my standard recipe for vanilla cookie frosting (it’s a little stiffer and hardens well, I promise that’s a good thing). I divided the frosting into three bowls and dyed them yellow, pink, and a peachy color. Obviously you can choose whatever colors you want but I was feelin’ girly.
My lettering skills are suuuuper rusty, so I’m sorry about that. But hey, they’re really fun to make so that’s all that matters! I just used a very small round tip, wrote the phrases in the middle of the cookie, then used a different piping bag with a slightly larger star tip to decorate the edges. The frosting is delicious, obviously, but the cookies are perfect gingerbread cookies. Soft, crispy on the edges, and full of holiday spices.
I hope you guys all get to make these!
Honestly though, I would move to Germany in a heartbeat. Any tattoo shops out there hiring? I’ve got a good artist for you.
PS I snuck an Overwatch joke in there, I’m so sorry.
Lebkuchenherzen for Oktoberfest! (German Gingerbread Hearts)
- 1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp. water
- 1/2 cup vegan butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp. vegan butter
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp. nondairy milk
- vegan food coloring
- Mix flax & water and let sit 5-7 minutes until thickened.
- In large mixing bowl, cream together the butter & sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla, vinegar molasses, and flax and mix well.
- Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, and spices) and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours in the fridge.
- Once fully chilled, turn out onto a floured surface and roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.
- Using a large heart cutter, cut out shapes and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Preheat oven to 350℉.
- While oven is preheating, store the baking sheet in the fridge to chill, about 10 minutes. I also wrapped up the remaining dough and stored it in the fridge until I cut out the next batch.
- Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes (mine were very large, so they took 12-13 minutes).
For the frosting:
- Add powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and nondairy milk to the bowl of a stand mixer. Let mix on medium-low for about 3 minutes until the frosting comes together and is smooth.
- Once the cookies are cooled, decorate as desired!
Cookie recipe adapted from Pickles & Honey – “Vegan Gingerbread Cookies“
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