I will spend this Christmas in Switzerland and am already looking forward to all the Swiss Christmas cakes, pastries, sweet breads and cookies in the Konditoreien. Basler brunsli are my favorite traditional Swiss Christmas cookies. They have been baked in Basel from at least the 18th century but are now popular in the whole country. Basel used to be a major centre for the spice trade and you can taste that in the interesting combination of cinnamon and cloves in the Basler brunsli. This little brown cookie – Bruns means brown and li is a diminutive – is usually baked in the form of a flower. And if you are looking for Christmas cookies for friends with an allergy: Basler brunsli are gluten and dairy free!
Basler Brunsli from Switzerland
for about 20 cookies
250 grams sugar + extra for rolling out and dipping
250 grams blanched almonds
175 grams dark chocolate (at least 70%)
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon kirsch
In a food processor blend the sugar with the almonds until finely ground.
Break the chocolate in pieces and add to the mixture. Blend again until the chocolate is also finely ground.
Add 2 egg whites, the cinnamon, the cloves, the salt and the kirsch and bring together in a sticky ball of dough. Leave to firm up in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
Sprinkle sugar on a sheet of baking paper and place the dough in the middle.
Roll out the dough until it is about ¾cm/⅓inch thick. Use a piece of cling film to cover the dough so that it will not stick to your rolling pin.
Cut out the cookies with a cutter and carefully move them to a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. Leave them to dry uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or 1 night.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Bake the cookies in the middle of the oven for 10-12 mins. for nice chewy cookies. Leave to cool on the cookie sheet. Brush the cooled cookies with a little bit of lightly beaten egg white and dip into the sugar. Leave to dry.
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