Swiss Christmas Cookies
Tandy's challenge this week are cookies.:) Seeing that I am not baking at the moment, I still wanted to post some of my dearest childhood memories. I grew up just outside Basel /Switzerland. The 2 months before Christmas was always a hectic baking time at our home. My granny went into overdrive to bake the traditional Swiss Christmas cookies in ginormous quantities. I have rewritten 3 of her most famous recipes for this first posting and will do another 3 next time. I sourced the photographs of the internet.
Basler Leckerli (Basel cookies)
These are the very famous bisquits which are sold all year round in Basel here first the original recipe:)
Ingredients for two medium size baking sheets:
450 g honey
300 g sugar
1½ tbs cinnamon
1 pinch of clove powder
½ tsp of nutmeg
100 g chopped candied orange peel
100 g chopped candied lemon peel
200 g ground almonds
Grind skin of one lemon
2 tbsp of kirsch
1½ tsp baking powder
150 g icing sugar
3 to 5 tbsp water
Put honey, sugar, cinnamon, clove powder and nut meg in a pan, heat up slowly, then remove from stove.
Add candied orange peel, candied lemon peel, almonds and grind skin of lemon, stir until mixed evenly.
Add kirsch, flour and baking powder, knead on a table to form a soft dough.
While the dough is still warm, roll it out on the back of two greased baking sheets approximately 5 mm (0.2 inches) thick.
Let it rest for about 5 to 6 hours or over night in a dry place.
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes in the center of the pre-heated oven at 220 °C.
Mix icing sugar and water, and paint the biscuits immediately.
Cut off stale edges. Cut in small pieces (5 x 3 cm,) take them off the baking sheets and let them cool.
250g good dark chocolate, 70%, chopped
⅓ cup cocoa powder
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
2 egg whites
¼ cup icing sugar
3 cups ground almonds
3 Tbsp Brandy or other
Course sugar for sprinkling (about ¼ cup)
- blend the chocolate, cocoa and spices in a food processor until finely ground
- add almonds and mix well
- in a large bowl, whip the eggwhites until frothy. Add the icing sugar in two batches, whipping well between additions, until firm peaks form
- fold in the chocolate-almond mix and the brandy
- form into two logs, wrap in plastic and freeze for at least 30 mins
- preheat the oven to 170 deg C
- working with one batch of dough at a time, sprinkle your pastry board with sugar and roll dough out carefully over sugar until 1cm thick. Cut shapes (traditionally 2″ hearts are used) and place on a cookie tray.
Sprinkle each cookie with sugar crystals, pressing slightly on each cookie to embed the sugar a little.
- bake in the oven for 18 – 20 mins
Zimt Sterne (Cinnamon Stars)
Ingredients for approximately 50 cookies (depending on the size of a single cookie):
3 fresh egg whites
1 pinch of salt
250 g icing sugar sugar
1½ tbsp cinnamon
½ tbsp kirsch or lemon juice
350 g ground almonds
Stir white of egg and salt in a bowl until it is real stiff.
Add icing sugar, stir until ingredients are evenly distributed. Put ½ cup aside for the icing.
Add cinnamon, kirsch (or lemon juice) and almonds, knead to a soft dough.
Roll out dough on a flat surface (it should be slightly covered with sugar), approximately 7 mm thick.
Cut out stars or other shapes and put them on a baking sheet covered with baking paper.
Let them rest for about 5 to 6 hours or over night in a dry place.
Carefully paint the cookies with the frosting set aside in step 2.
Bake for about 3 to 5 minutes in the center of the pre-heated oven at 250 °C .
Let cool completely before serving.