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 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 (or can be), Desserts & Treats, Gluten-Free (or can be), Low-Carb
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 28 cakes
Calories: 121kcal
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 the almonds in a food processor and grind for a minute. Add the hazelnuts and grind for another minute. Finally, add the walnuts and grind for another minute. Process until you have a relatively 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. The dough will have a slightly mousse-y texture.
  • When you're ready to bake the cakes, preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet (or 2 small sheets) with a silicone baking mat (something like this) or parchment paper (I prefer using silicone for this recipe). Rub a thin film of soft butter onto the baking mat or parchment. Set aside.
  • Form heaping 2-inch mounds of dough on the baking sheet, leaving about ½ inch distance between each. Bake at the center of the oven for 20-22 minutes until slightly golden around the edges and on top.
  • 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 cool completely and decorate.
  • To temper the chocolate glaze (so it stays shiny once it has set), 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. If desired, decorate with almond slivers.
  • These cakes keep for about two weeks in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. They are meant to be soft and moist.


Serving: 1cake | Calories: 121kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 30mg | Potassium: 111mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 58IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg