Once the days get shorter and advent season has arrived, the bakers among us will dig out our favorite Swiss Christmas cookie recipes.
One of my favorite things of the holiday season is Christmas baking. There are so many delicious desserts to bake, from tasty pies to Christmas cookies. In Swiss German dialect, the biscuits are lovingly called Guetzli, Guetsli, or Chrömli.
While some cookies can be whisked up in no time, others require more patience. Here is a selection of favorite Swiss Christmas cookie recipes with one thing in common: these cookies need air time. That is, time for the dough to rest before baking. One thing to watch out for is people eating them before they’re baked. My dad is infamous for making these unbaked cookies disappear...
Swiss Christmas cookie recipes that require air time:
Zimtsterne Cinnamon Stars
Makes 50 cookies
3 fresh egg whites (100 g/3.5 oz)
pinch of salt
250 g (9 oz) confectioner's sugar
1.5 tablespoons of cinnamon
0.5 tablespoon of kirsch or lemon juice
350 g (12 oz) ground almonds
Zimtstern is not only the name of a skateboard fashion company, but it is the best Swiss Christmas cookie there is. Interestingly, this is also a very common cookie in German Jewish culture where it is called Erste Sternen and is served at the meal following Yom Kippur.
1. Stir white of egg and salt in a bowl until it is really stiff.
2. Add confectioner's sugar, stir until ingredients are evenly distributed. Put 1 dl (0.4 cups) aside for the frosting.
3. Add cinnamon, kirsch (or lemon juice) and almonds, knead to a soft dough.
4. Roll out dough on a flat surface (it may be slightly covered with sugar), approximately 7 mm (0.3 in) thick. Put out stars or other shapes and put them on a baking sheet covered with baking paper.
5. Let them rest for about 5 to 6 hours or over night in a dry place.
6. Carefully sweep the cookies with the frosting set aside in step 2.
7. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C.
8. Bake for about 3 to 5 minutes in the center of the pre-heated oven.
9. Let cool completely before serving.
Brunsli, or Basler Brunsli
Makes 50 cookies
150 g (5 oz) sugar
pinch of salt
250 g (9 oz) ground almonds
0.25 tea spoons of cinnamon
pinch of powdered clove
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of flour
2 fresh egg whites (70 g/2.5 oz)
100 g (3.5 oz) bitter chocolate, i.e. Felchlin
2 tea spoons of kirsch
Right behind Zimtsterne are Brunsli, another one of my favorite Christmas cookies. One thing you’ll notice with all three cookies recipes is that you need to let them rest overnight before baking them. With Brunsli, this extra time makes the cookie that much better.
1. Mix sugar, salt, almonds, cinnamon, powdered clove, cocoa powder and flour in a bowl.
2. Add white of egg and stir until ingredients are evenly distributed.
3. Cut chocolate in real small pieces, pour hot water over the chocolate, let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then, pour off all the water except about half a tablespoon, stir until even. Now immediately proceed with the next step.
4. Add melted chocolate from the previous step and the kirsch, knead to a soft dough.
5. Roll out dough on a flat surface (it may be slightly covered with sugar), approximately 10 mm (0.4 in) thick. Put out different shapes and put them on a baking sheet covered with baking paper.
6. Let them rest for about 5 to 6 hours or over night in a dry place.
7. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C.
8. Bake for about 4 to 6 minutes in the center of the pre-heated oven.
9. Let the rack cool completely before serving the cookies.
Makes 60 cookies
450 g (16 oz) confectioner's sugar
pinch of salt
1.5 tablespoons of anise
1 tablespoon of kirsch
550 to 600 g (19-21 oz) flour
Chräbeli cookies are for those who are not nuts about nuts but who like absinthe, sambuca, and ouzo. These are special cookies in terms of their shape, but they go especially well with coffee. When you bake Chräbeli and they start to lift slightly on the bottom, it is said that they are growing feet. This is a good sign, no need to worry!
1. Put eggs, confectioner's sugar, salt, anise and kirsch in a bowl and stir about 5 minutes until well mixed.
2. Add in flour and mix it into a dough.
3. Form rolls of about 1.5 cm (0.6 in) diameter and cut in pieces of about 5 cm (2 in) length. Cut in each piece about 3 times slightly angular and bend them slightly.
4. Slightly grease baking sheets and put the rolls onto it to dry. Do not use baking paper sheets. Do not move the pieces.
5. Let them dry for 24 to 48 hours at room temperature. Make sure there is no draft.
6. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C.
7. Bake for about 25 minutes in the lower part of the pre-heated oven. Keep the oven door slightly open.
8. Finally, let the cookies cool down, then remove them from the baking sheet using a spatula.
So, there you have it: three types of very Swiss Christmas cookies to get working on. If you prepare the dough on Friday evening after work, you’ll be able to bake them by Saturday afternoon, and enjoy them on Sunday! Yes, good things come to those who wait, as even these Swiss cookie recipes prove.
Check out even more Swiss Christmas cookie recipes:
- Swiss winter foods guide - from savory to sweet
- Mailänderli recipe with step-by-step instructions
- 7 Swiss winter drinks you need to try
- Clever Swiss cheese recipes
- Fondue chinoise in Switzerland
- Roasted chestnuts in Switzerland
- 10 typical Swiss carnival foods explained
- Baking Recipe: Basler Fastenwähe
- Baking Recipe: Three Kings Cake
Thank you so much for writing these recipes in English! Now I can attempt to surprise my mother-in-law with some of the cookies she normally bakes! Triple Yummm!!!
Good luck with these cookie recipes! Be sure to report back to us how they turned out (and whether Verena was surprised :-)!
I like your cookie..
Thanks so much going to try all three this weekend remember all three from my youth but lost the receipes with my mothers passing – USA citizin from Basle
Aren’t the cookies called Chrabeli?No r?
That’s right. We’ll get on it. Sometimes the hands move faster than the proof-reading eye. Luckily we have great readers. Thank you!
I have been searching for a Swiss Christmas cookie and have been unable to
find it anywhere. My son-in-law comes from Switzerland and he loves this
cookie called Tirggel(?) and I would love to bake them for him as a surprise.
Can you help me? Thank you.
These are traditional honey cookies from Zurich. I found this recipe in English for you. Btw I am from Zurich and I loooove Tirggel very much. I mess them a lot.
By the way: the above recipes and more can be found at: https://about.ch/culture/food/index.html … Enjoy!
Can you also do the one with the jelly in the middle? It is shown in the picture so I got really excited then it was not one of them haha. Love those!
You’re referring to Spitzbuben ;-) Let us research the recipe and we will add it in the comments… ^Dimitri
Yay can’t wait!
Yes, these are my mother’s favorite. We will wait on these too. Thank you. :-)
One of my favourites, too. I’ll always make them when I do make cookies.
OK, here goes the Spitzbuben recipe (it’s in grams, sorry):
250 g butter
125 g confectioners sugar (or regular sugar)
2 tea spoons of vanilla sugar
1 pinch of salt
-> Melt the butter a bit and mix everything in a bowl until it’s light in color.
1 egg white
-> Add to the bowl and keep mixing.
350 g flour
-> Add to the bowl little by little and until the dough is solid. Then, cool the dough for about one hour (i.e. outdoors, in the fridge). Bring it indoors about 30 minutes before the cookie cutting session.
-> Spread some flour on your cookie cutting surface and roll out the dough about 2 mm thick. It helps to place some cellophane on top. Apparently, this keeps the rolling pin from sticking to the dough.
-> Cut round cookies with a diameter of 4 to 5 cm. On half of the cookies, use a smaller cookie cutter to punch through the center (i.e. a small heart). Then, cool the cookies on a baking sheet for 15 minutes.
-> Preheat your oven and bake the cookies for 6 to 8 minutes at 200 degrees.
For the filling, use 200 g of jelly/confiture. You could pick apricot, raspberry, bitter orange, etc.
-> Heat the jelly in a small pan, then spread it on the round cookie bottoms. Apply the top (i.e. with a heart cut out) and finally, dust them with powdered sugar.
[…] Of course, there are even more Swiss Christmas traditions than the ones I have described in more details. Almost every Swiss family bakes cookies during the Christmas season. Some traditional Swiss cookies include Brunsli, Zimtstern or Chräbbeli. If you have enough time and like to bake, you should try baking your own Christmas cookies! You can find the recipes of Brunsli, Zimtstern and Chräbbeli here. […]