The Aachener Printe
Aachener Printen are a type of Lebkuchen originating from the city of Aachen in Germany. The term is a protected designation of origin and so all manufacturers can be found in or near Aachen.
The first pastries of this kind most likely originated from the city of Dinant in Belgium. The city has produced pastries with engraved pictures for over a thousand years. Copper producing craftsmen, another specialty of Dinant, who emigrated to Aachen in the 15th century brought the recipe, concept and tradition of engraved pastries with them to Aachen. Originally, the Printen were sold by Pharmacists for some of their ingredients (honey, several herbs and spices) were considered to possess medical benefits.
Originally sweetened with honey, nowadays Printen are sweetened with the syrup from sugar beets as honey became temporarily unavailable when Napoleon issued a trade embargo, banning all trade with the main supplier of honey, the USA. The tradition of sweetening with sugar beets was kept even after Napoleon was defeated and the French occupation lifted.
Printen are made from a variety of ingredients including cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cardamom, coriander, spices and also ginger. The exact mixture of these ingredients, however, is a close-kept secret of the individual Printen bakeries.
Additionally to the original Printen, there are also Printen with nuts (usually almonds), covered in chocolate or glaze and marzipan.