My mom grew up in the depression, the youngest of 5 children. She tells stories of working around the house helping my Grandmother, of sleeping on cots on the porch at their camp, ice skating down the Street at the pond and going off flying with her older brother nights after dinner. She tells of playing a game of Monopoly that would go on for days, of war ration coupons and hand me down clothes. The family had deep German roots and a hard work ethic. My grandfather ran a local furniture store with his sisters which was not the most prosperous with a family of five children at home to feed and cloth and you split the earnings with your siblings. I never got to meet my grandfather because he passed away two years before I was born, but I do have a few memories of my grandmother.
I loved going to her house and playing with the milk box outside her side door, or playing underneath the evergreen in the front yard. A few years ago my mom gave me her recipe box with my grandmothers recipes. With our interest in cooking she thought we would enjoy looking at some of the old basic recipes and some of the great German cookies and Christmas treats from her past. I have found that there is little detail and measures like “a pinch” or “dash”. Grandma passed away soon after my 6th birthday, but her memories live on.
The one recipe my mom has talked about for years is her mother’s Lepkuchen. She remembers sitting on the floor with a big wooden bowl between her legs, stirring, and stirring the heavy batter. When I decided to make these cookies for my mom’s 87th birthday, I enlisted my son for the stirring. This is a very heavy batter and makes a ton of cookies. When you do make them you hold off on the frosting until you are almost ready to serve them. Of the two recipes I found one said “will hold for 2 to 3 months un-frosted” and the other said “indefinitely”.
1/2 pint of molasses
1/2 pint of white corn syrup
1lb. Dark brown sugar
1 lb almonds in shell} 3 cups chopped meats (nuts)
1/2 lb Brazil nuts }
1/4 lb citron, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup brandy
1tablespoon of baking soda, mix in flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
6 to 7 cups of flour – bake sample cookie to see if more flour is needed. Should not be too porous.
Let dough chill. Take out in small amounts, roll and cut into rectangles or squares.
Dough is very sticky if it warms up. Bake at 350°, about 9 minutes. Very hard when cool, store in large container. Frost with confectionary frosting when needed. The frosting will soften the cookies overnight. The unfrosted cookies will keep up to 3 months.