Magenbrot is a type of sweet bread similar in taste to gingerbread, but much softer. It originated in Switzerland, where it is baked and served for holidays and other special occasions, although it also is popular in parts of Germany. The ingredients that make the taste distinct include spices such as star anise, cloves and mace, which are combined with flour and chocolate before being baked. A sugary glaze is applied to the top of the bread when it has completed cooking. The finished magenbrot is usually cut into small, candy-size pieces and has a dark brown color caused by the addition of chocolate in powdered or melted form.
Honey originally was used to sweeten magenbrot, although white sugar, brown sugar or molasses also can be used. The first step in making the bread is to combine the sweetener and some type of fat, such as butter or milk, in a pan and heat it until a smooth mixture has formed. Some recipes call for the mixture to be cooled, after which an egg is beaten into it to add more volume. Other recipes attempt to skip the addition of any fats and use only water.
The spices used when making magenbrot include cinnamon, cloves and some nutmeg. Certain recipes use other spices, including cardamom, star anise, allspice or mace, which comes from the outer shell of nutmeg. Flour is mixed with whatever powdered spices are being used and cocoa powder.
The dry flour and spice mixture is combined with the sweet liquid mixture and stirred until smooth dough is formed. The dough is kneaded, wrapped in plastic wrap and allowed to rest. Depending on the exact recipe being followed, magenbrot dough can be left to rest for as little as an hour or as long as overnight.
Once rested, the dough is formed into long, thin strips and placed on a baking sheet. The strips are baked until done and then allowed to cool. At this time, the magenbrot are usually coated with a sweet glaze. The glaze can consist of sugar and water, molasses or even chocolate and liqueur.
The treat can be glazed either before it is cut or after. The strips are usually cut into very small pieces. If glazing the pieces afterward, then they can be placed in a bowl a few at a time, tossed with the glaze and allowed to dry. Once the magenbrot is finished, it is stored in a tightly sealed bag or container to prevent it from drying out and becoming too hard to eat.