About the Recipe
If you're a fan of anise, you'll love these cookies. If you're not, I believe that these cookies could convert you. They are definitely one of my top 5 favorite traditional Swiss Christmas cookies. Not only do they taste heavenly, they bring back childhood memories of my grandmother and make me think of Switzerland.
These cookies are made primarily of powdered sugar, eggs and flour, making them snow white in color. (Quite appropriate for a Christmas cookie don't you think?) They can come in these handmade half moon shapes with slits or as a more intricately designed flat cookie by using beautifully carved stamp like molds. (If made this way, they are known as Anisbrotli). Either way, they have a nice crisp outside and a wonderfully chewy inside. Both the sweetness and anise flavors are light. Neither one overpowering.
As far as cookies go, these do have a couple of steps to make them and need to sit out overnight before baking, so they do require a little more planning and patience, but believe me, it is all worth it!
If you are looking for a cookie that stands out from the rest Chrabeli are the way to go. With their unique shape and distinctive flavor, they will definitely stand out of the Christmas cookie crowd.
They also keep well when stored in an airtight container, so you can make them ahead.
500g powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons anise seed
Pinch of salt
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and powdered sugar. In a separate bowl, mix flour with salt and anise seeds. Using your hands (or a stand mixer with paddle attachment), add flour mixture to sugar mixture bit by bit until everything is well incorporated. The dough may be slightly dry. This is normal. If you feel it is much to dry you can add a couple of tablespoons of luke warm water. You do not want the dough to be too sticky though, so go bit by bit. It should hold it's shape but just barely, it may crack a little and that is normal.
Use some powdered sugar to lightly dust your work surface so that the dough does not stick to it as you form your cookies. Take a chunk of dough and gently roll it out into a 2cm thick roll. Cut the roll at an angle into 8cm long sections. Take each section and make two shallow angled slits on one side. Now bend the section to form a 'U' shape (in the opposite direction of the slits).
Place your 'Chrabeli' on lined baking sheets and cover with a kitchen towel. They will now have to 'rest' over night. This 'resting' phase will allow the outside of the Chrabeli to harden a bit and help give them their awesome texture and raised base. (A trick learned from my grandmother).
When you are ready to bake preheat your oven to 300F.
You want these cookies to bake low and slow. That is what helps give them the crunchy outside and the awesome chewy center. Bake for 30-40 minutes. You'll know when they are done when the top of the cookie pops upwards so that it leaves the very important raised bottoms that are lightly golden. (Note: To ensure the slow and low baking process, my grandmother would also stick the handle of a wooden spoon in the side of the oven door to keep it from closing all the way).
These cookies definitely require a little patience and effort. But they are absolutely worth it. Along with Spitzbuebe and Cinnamon Stars, these are part of my favorites. Would love to know if you try them!
Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.