Traditional Swiss Christmas cookies

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This is the time of year when many stores in Switzerland are full of little seasonal cookies.

Cinnamon, almonds, hazelnut, anise and cloves are the most common ingredients.

I like the fact that the cookies are very small, so you don’t feel that much gilt having one with a cup of coffee or tea. The problem is that my favorite cookies are so tasty that I end up eating at least three or more each time.

This winter I decided to bake my own christmas cookies, and the home made ones are delicious even better than the ones you buy.

I made two types of cookies that are made without flour so they are also gluten-free, Brunsli  (chocolate and almonds), and Zimsterne (cinnamon and almonds).

The recipes are very simple, but rolling the dough requires a little bit of patience. If you use some tricks on how to keep the dough pliable the cookies are really fun to make. The refrigerator is a great help. Don’t get frustrated if at first they are mishaped, they are very tasty and ” a rustic  look” is just fine!

 

Brunsli

Makes about 40-50 depending the size of your cutter

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  • 2 egg whites (if eggs are too small you may need a little extra egg white)
  • 270g / 2 1/2 cups, finely ground almonds
  • 215g / 1 cup sugar
  • 120g chocolate, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons Kirsch
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Ground chocolate with sugar in a food processor.

In a big bowl combine ground almonds, ground chocolate, sugar, pinch of salt, cocoa powder, cinnamon and cloves.

Add egg whites and Kirsch and with a wooden spoon mix well. With hand incorporate dough into ball.

Transfer dough on working surface sprinkled with a little bit of cocoa powder. If dough is to sticky, add a little more of cocoa powder, if is too dry add a bit of extra egg whites.

Divide it in two halves. Make flat disk and wrap into cling film.

Put into refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes to harden. That makes it less sticky.

Put dough in between two sheets of cling film, and then roll until 1 cm ( 1/2 in) thick. Use cutter to shape your cookies.

Put cookies on a tin, lined with a baking paper.

Let them sit overnight to dry. Leftover dough roll into ball, make a flat disk, put into refrigerator and repeat the process.

Preheat the oven to 150C /300F. Bake about 10-12min.

 

Zimsterne

makes about 40-50 depending the size of your cutter

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  • 3 egg whites
  •  210g / 4 cups almonds,finely ground
  • 335g /2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Kirsch

 

In a big bowl combine ground almonds and cinnamon.

Mix egg whites and icing sugar until stiff peack.

Put one third of mixture to almond mixture and mix with awooden spoon.

Hand shape it into a ball and transfer to a working surface lightly sprinkled with a sugar. If too sticky add more almonds or if too dry add a little more egg whites.

Make a flat disk and wrap into a cling film. Put into refrigerator for a minimum 30 minutes to harden.

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Put dough in between two sheets of cling film and roll until 1 cm (1/2in) thick. Use star cookie cutter to shape your cookies.

Dip each cookie into the egg white mixture you set aside.

When mixture gets thick dilute with little bit of water. This is technique that works the beast for me. You can also apply with a brush. It requires a bit of patience but as you repeat the process it becomes easier.

Put them on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper and let them dry overnight.

Preheat the oven to 150C /300F.  Bake cookies for 10-12 min., don’t let the icing become brown.

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