The past several years I haven’t had time to do as much Christmas baking as I used to but I still enjoy trying new recipes to add to my repetoire. This year a new one is a Swiss honey spice cookie called “Basler Laeckerli” from Basel, Switzerland. I found the recipe in a past Christmas issue of the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Sheet newsletter. Besides the fact that I really like spice flavored cookies, what caught my attention about the recipe is the unique method of mixing…no mixer involved and you cook it on the stovetop before baking. The sugar glaze that gets brushed on the top is reminiscent of the type of glaze I’ve had on commercially purchased German Christmas cookies. Make sure the cookies have been baked and removed from the pan before ever starting to cook the glaze. Once it starts to cool it’s going to sugar up and then there’s no hope for getting a nice smooth white glaze brushed across the top of the cookies.
Rather than using whole almonds and having to chop them up finely, I substitute sliced blanched almonds and just add them as is without the need to otherwise chop them. This time of year the candied orange peel should be easy to find…just look in the display area of your store where they have the candied fruit for fruitcakes. It will probably already be diced for you which makes it even easier!
These cookies will have an extensive lifespan due to the honey that they contain. Honey is extremely “hygroscopic” which means that it has the ability to absorb moisture from it’s surrounding atmosphere and as such, cookies that contain it will have an extended shelf life as they will stay soft longer.
How about you? Have you tried any new cookie or other baking recipes this year that you care to share here??? Please share your favorites too!
(Swiss Honey Spice Cookies)
-from King Arthur Flour “Baking Sheet” Holiday 2008
Yield: About 42 cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup honey
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons kirsch or brandy
1/2 cup finely chopped candied orange peel
1 1/2cups whole almonds, very finely chopped but not ground (or may substitute sliced almonds)
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a jelly-roll pan with foil or parchment, and then butter the foil or parchment.
Whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, and baking soda.
In a large, heavy saucepan heat the honey and granulated sugar over low heat, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the kirsch or brandy, orange peel, and almonds. Stir in the flour mixture, and cool the dough for 5 minutes.
With floured hands, press the dough evenly into the pan. Place the filled pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 300 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until firm but not dry or hard. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a rack.
Once the baked dough is cool, invert it onto a cutting board and discard the foil or parchment on the bottom. Turn the baked dough right side up.
Heat the water and granulated sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved; stir in the confectioner’s sugar and cook until completely dissolved.
Pour the hot glaze over the baked dough and use a brush to evenly coat the top; continue brushing until the glaze crystallizes and whitens. Let the glazed cookies stand for 10 minutes, then trim off the edges.
Cut the cookies into rectangles or diamonds. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.