These cakes, inspired by traditional Bavarian Christmas cakes, “Elisenkuchen” (named after St. Elisabeth, the Catholic patron saint of bakers) are grain/gluten-free, dairy-free and yeast-free. I adapted this recipe from this gingerbread recipe on the Plated Cravings blog.

In addition to all their “free-froms,” these soft, aromatic cakes contain lots of nutritious ingredients, such as omega-3-rich walnuts; hazelnuts and almonds packed with antioxidants; citrus peel with its multiple health benefits; and polyphenol-rich chocolate. Oh, and they’re low in sugar, too, clocking in at a mere 3 g sugar per cake (when using a non-glycemic sweetener; see recipe).

Traditionally, German Elisenkuchen contain candied orange & lemon peel, but I personally am not too partial to this (in fact, as a child I used to pick them out of my grandmother’s gingerbread…). Feel free to add them if want, though; they’ll probably make the cakes even juicier. (But also increase their sugar content considerably.)

One last tip: don’t over-bake these or they will taste dry and a little bitter. The best way to keep them moist is not to flatten them too much before baking and to take them out of the oven when they barely start to turn a light golden color; once they start to brown they’ve been in too long.

Given their high fat content, Elisenkuchen are quite filling, but since they are so satisfying, just one cake – enjoyed in the afternoon with a cozy cup of tea – will go a long way.

Elisenlebkuchen (German gingerbread)

Keyword: Dairy-Free, Desserts & Treats, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 25 cakes
Calories: 135kcal
A deliciously fragrant German Christmas specialty.
Print Recipe


  • 1 cup almonds raw
  • 1 cup hazelnuts raw or roasted
  • 1 cup walnuts raw
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar or non-glycemic sweetener my favorite non-glycemic sweetener is Besti, followed by allulose or monk fruit sweetener
  • 2 tbsp German gingerbread mix or pumpkin pie spice mix click here for a recipe for homemade German gingerbread mix
  • ½ tsp lemon zest (from an untreated lemon) finely grated
  • ½ tsp orange zest (from an untreated orange) finely grated
  • ¼ tsp natural almond extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 oz chocolate chips dark or semi-sweet; I use Lily’s sugar-free chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp soft butter to grease the baking parchment


  • Place all the nuts nuts in a food processor and grind until you obtain a fine powder. Set aside.
  • Place eggs and sweetener (whichever using) in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk until pale and frothy (about 10 minutes; a stand mixer can help, here).
  • Add spices, citrus zest, ground nuts and baking powder. Whisk until combined then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rest in the fridge overnight or for at least 10 hours.
  • When you're ready to bake the cakes, preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Rub a thin film of soft butter onto the parchment (these cookies tend to stick to some types of parchment).
  • Form 2-tbsp mounds of dough on the baking sheet, leaving about ½ inch distance between each. Slightly flatten and smooth their surfaces with the back of a lightly moistened teaspoon. Bake at the center of the oven for 15 minutes until slightly golden around the edges. Don't let them brown or they will taste dry and a little bitter.
  • Remove baking sheet from the oven and leave to cool before lifting the cakes off with a spatula and setting them on a wire tray.
  • To temper the chocolate glaze (so it stays shiny), place ⅔ of the chocolate chips in a microwave proof bowl and heat on 50% power for one minute. Stir and heat for another minute on 50%. Stir again; if the chips haven’t melted, heat for another 30 seconds at 50% power. Now add the remaining chips to the warm chocolate and stir until they have melted.
  • With a pastry brush, cover the cakes with a thin layer of chocolate and cool on a wire rack (or drizzle chocolate onto the cakes by letting it drip off a teaspoon). If desired, decorate with almond slivers.
  • These cakes keep about two weeks in an airtight container at room temperature. They are meant to be soft and moist.


Serving: 1cake | Calories: 135kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 33mg | Potassium: 124mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 65IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 1mg