"Leckerlee" – it's a made up word that sounds as cute as the treats that bear its name, and is just as delicious on the tongue. "Lecker" means "delicious" in German, and in some dialects "leckerle" refers to a "delicious little treat." It just so happens that the owner of Leckerlee's last name is Lee, so she had no choice but to go with the name for her homemade lebkuchen business.
Sandy Lee's lebkuchen obsession started in Berlin, where she moved on a whim and lived for 2 1/2 years, working as a corporate development professional. She tasted the almond-hazelnut-gingerbread treats at a Christmas market, got hooked immediately, and started dreaming up ways to create her own.
Her daydreams became all the more pressing when she began contemplating a return to New York City – she couldn't imagine leaving behind her beloved traditional German lebkuchen. So when Sandy got off the plane back in NYC, it was with a business plan for Leckerlee in tow.
In Berlin she'd conducted tireless research and lebkuchen tastings, picked the brains of master German bakers, and scoured lebkuchen books as old as the late 19th century before devising her signature lebkuchen recipe. It was a rich, dense, nutty and spicy treat that feels like equal parts cake and cookie – in other words, the true, classic lebkuchen characteristic of Nuremburg, and her personal favorite. Some are coated in dark chocolate, others with a sugar glaze, and all sit atop a crisp edible wafer that medieval monks originally used to manage the super sticky dough.
Stateside, Sandy made minor tweaks to ingredients (some weren't widely available outside Germany), and hit the ground running. She sells her lebkuchen in quaint decorative tins that are traditional in Germany, making for a beautiful holiday gift that keeps on giving – the tins are usually kept around to re-use as spice or coffee storage. The treats soon became a hit, inspiring the same obsession in first-time triers as it did in Sandy, who says the big appeal is that there's simply no other treat like it in America.
It's not quite gingerbread, but we still say run, run as fast as you can to catch a tin of lebkuchen for yourself!