From the Archives: Valentine’s Day Cookies, 45 years later

From the Archives: Valentine’s Day Cookies, 45 years later

By Alexis Potter / ADOT Communications
January 27, 2024
Heart shaped cookies with "Happy V-Day" and "ADOT" written on them in icing.

Archive photo of A.W. and Sherri Brooks with a Lebkuchen cookie.Everyone is familiar with Valentine’s Day conversation hearts, but an ADOT employee’s recipe from 45 years ago offers a gingerbread twist on the holiday sweets.

In the February 1979 edition of the ADOT employee newsletter “Newsbeat,” Sherri Brooks, an administrative assistant in ADOT’s Administrative Services Division, shared her recipe for traditional German Lebkuchen hearts.

The iced, heart-shaped cookies, usually inscribed with endearing messages, are sold by vendors at German festivals, according to Sherri.

Sherri and her husband, A.W. Brooks, who was also an ADOT employee as a manager of Property Management Services in the Right of Way division, were married on Valentine’s Day, so she was baking the Lebkuchen hearts to celebrate their anniversary. 

We baked them ourselves and they are just as delicious as they are cute. Plus, as Sherri said, they were pretty easy to make! We did use a heart-shaped cookie cutter instead of making our own pattern, but you can do whichever your heart desires. 

We appreciate Sherri sharing this special recipe with ADOT employees, and now we’re happy to share it with you, too:

Lebkuchen Hearts Recipe: 


  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup minced candied orange peel
  • Icing for decoration


  1. Combine honey, sugar, lemon zest and butter over medium heat until the butter melts. Let cool to lukewarm. 
  2. Beat two eggs until foamy, then stir in the honey mixture. 
  3. In another bowl, mix together all the rest of the ingredients, then add them to the egg mixture until well combined.
  4. Chill the dough. Allow it to return to room temperature before shaping. 
  5. Cut an approximately 8” by 7” heart shaped pattern out of a piece of heavy paper (or use a heart-shaped cookie cutter like we did, and skip the pattern steps).
  6. Divide dough into eight equal portions. Roll out a portion at a time on a lightly floured board until just slightly larger than the heart pattern. 
  7. Transfer dough to a greased baking sheet and place the pattern on top. With a knife, trim away the edges. Repeat to make each cookie, spacing them slightly apart on the baking sheet.
  8. Beat one egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the mixture onto the cookies.
  9. In an oven preheated to 350º, bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned.
  10. Let cool and use icing to decorate with any message you would like.

Note: The article the recipe was featured in was written by Peggy Whaley in the February 1979 edition of the ADOT monthly employee newsletter “Newsbeat.”