About the Recipe
If I had to sum up Switzerland in one taste, Basler Läckerli, would be it. Likely because these cookies have a special place in my gustatory and olfactory memory. Its rich blend of spices, honey-kissed sweetness, and a tantalizing medley of ground almonds, candied orange peel, and lemon zest bring me back to my childhood, when my parents would receive a special tin filled with these cookies from a friend or relative back in Europe. I still remember the smell as you opened the tin and the lovely delicate sheets of parchment paper between each layer of the cookies.
Crafting these cookies at home always felt like an art. Maybe it was the candied citrus, maybe it was the warm tapestry of flavors that was carefully baked to golden perfection. The magic of the emerging, fragrant, spiced delicacy with a subtle chewy texture, embodied the spirit of Swiss holiday cheer for me.
Normally, these cookies are made with Kirsch (a clear, colorless brandy made from fermented cherry juice that is then distilled). Kirsch is not something I often have in the house, nor is it something that is readily availble in our licor stores, so, I wanted to make a recipe that was still filled with the incredible flavors this coolkie has to offer, but without the need to find kirsch.
The final touch of these glorious cookies is a lustrous glaze of powdered sugar and zesty lemon, which simply enhances both the visual allure and taste of these delectable squares. As the Basler Läckerli cool, their flavors meld and mature, reaching a crescendo of perfection that beckons connoisseurs to savor each morsel. With every bite, I am transported to the special place in my heart. The place of my ancestry and fond childhood memories.
To me, the aroma of these cookies heralds the joyous arrival of the festive season and I hope they will soon for you as well.
2 cups all-purpose flour (+more for dusting)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup ground almonds (almond meal)
1/2 cup candied orange peel, finely chopped (homemade or store-bought)
1/2 cup candied lemon peel, finely chopped (homemade or store-bought)
1/2 cup honey
4-6 tablespoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Line the back side of a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with a fine layer of flour .
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg.
(Candied citrus can be found in most stores this time of year, however, if you can't find any or want to give making your own a 'go' then I have a super easy method that you can find here).
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms (add more warm water a tablespoon at a time if your dough seems too dry and won't come together).
Transfer the dough onto the floured parchment and roll it out to about 5mm (1/4-inch) thickness in a rectangular shape.
Let the rolled out dough sit for minimum an hour (some say to leave it overnight to let the flavor mingle). When ready, place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
While the cookies are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth.
Once the cookies are done baking, remove them from the oven and immediately brush the glaze over the warm cookies.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet before cutting them into squares or rectangles (cutting away any uneven edge- those bits are for tasting).
Store the Basler Läckerli in an airtight container. The great thing about these cookies is that the flavors will develop even more over the next couple of days.