My Swiss mother-in-law is pretty much the most amazing person on the planet. Besides always being the first to offer to watch our kiddos so we can sneak away every now and then, she also makes the most incredible Christmas cookies and each year we all anxiously await the big box from Grossmami (the Swiss word for Grandmother) which contains tins upon tins of her amazing traditional Swiss Christmas cookies.
These are not your regular giant sized American cookies covered in frosting and sugar. Rather, these delicate, bite sized, crispy little cookies (or biscuits) are make with a few simple ingredients and a lot of love. I've never met a baked good that I haven't liked, and receiving these cooking really is one of the highlights of December. You can bet we try to devour our share before the boys get their grubby little hands on them all. ;)
Below I've shared the recipe for our three favorite Swiss cookies, the recipes of which I found in this book that she gifted me a few years back. My mother-in-law always sets aside a day or two to make these for the family and I can say they are absolutely the perfect gift for anyone left on your list! xx
Mailäderli are a lemony shortbread-type cookie, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Ingredients (makes 80 small cookies depending on the size of the cutter)
- 1 1/4 cups butter
- 1 1/8 cups sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 3 eggs separated
- 1 lemon
- 3 3/4 cups flour
Stir butter in a bowl until smooth. Next, stir in sugar, salt, and egg whites until the mixture is pale yellow. Grate the lemon zest of one lemon and add to the mixture. Fold the mix until a dough forms. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about two hours. Slightly dilute the egg yolk with water and set aside.
After the dough has chilled, pre-heat the oven to 400. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and roll out the dough to an aprox 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes with various cookie cutters, then place them on a cookie sheet lined with nonstick baking paper. Chill for about 15 minutes, then brush with the egg yolk. Before baking, move a fork across the cookies pressing down lightly or make indentations with the back of a knife. Bake cookies for 10 minutes on middle rack.
Spitzbuben are a shortbread type cookie with a layer of jam sandwitched in between and dusted with powdered sugar. Traditionally these cookies had three jam-filled holes to looke like the face of cheeky boy (essentially a smiley face) These are without question the boys' favorite cookie.
Ingredients (makes 50-60 small cookies)
- 1 1/4 cups butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- a pinch of salt
- 1 egg white
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup favorite jelly or jam
Stir butter in a bowl until smooth. Add all the ingredients and fold until the mix holds together as a dough. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about one hour. Remove the dough and let sit for 30 minutes. Put a portion of dough between two sheets of plastic (for example a Ziplock bag that has been cut in half) and roll it out to a 1/16 inch thickness. Cut out pieces about 2" in diameter using a round cookie cutter or a knife. (Optional) For half the cookies cut out the middle of the cookies with a smaller cookie cutter or a knife creating a center design of your choice. These will be the tops of the cookie sandwiches. Use the other have of the cookies for the bottoms, leaving the centers intact. Put the cookies on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper, chill for about 15 minutes Pre-heat oven to 400. After cookies are chilled bake for 6-8 minutes on center rack.
For the filling, warm the jelly or jam in a pan, stirring until smooth. Spread on the flat side of the cookies without the cutouts. Dust the top halves with powdered sugar and place them on the jam filled bottoms creating a cookie sandwich (like an Oreo.)
Brunsli are also referred to as little Swiss brownies. They are crunchy little cookies with a slight chocolate flavor. My husband and I love to have these with a glass of tea at night.
Ingredients (makes 50 small cookies depending on the size of the cutter)
- 1 cup sugar (3/4 cup for mix, 1/4 cup reserved for rolling out dough)
- pinch of salt
- 2 3/4 cups ground almonds
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 egg white lightly beaten
- 1/2 dark chocolate crumbled
- 2 tsp Kirsh
Mix all ingredients except dark chocolate and Kirsh in a bowl and mix until blended. Melt dark chocolate in a bowl over boiling water and stir in the Kirsh. Mix with the other ingredients to form a dough.
Roll out the dough on a thin layer of sugar about 1/2 inch thick. Press out with different shaped cutters and put on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Leave to dry 5-6 hours or overnight. When dry, bake at 475 for 4-6 minutes.
*tip- dip the cutters occassionally in a bowl filled with sugar to be able to remove cookies from the cutter more easily.