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5 Swiss cookie recipes you’ve probably never baked

Switzerland is heaven on earth for cookie monsters as there is a biscuit for every taste.

Traditionally, most home bakers would only produce cookies during the festive season. There are as many Swiss cookie varieties as there are tastes: with butter, chocolate, nuts, or all three ingredients combined. And since many recipes require for the dough to be chilled before the cookie-cutting, cold winter days are simply more practical for baking.

But why constrain ourselves to just one season of the year? Especially so when there are numerous delicious Swiss cookie recipes available?

You may have already baked the usual suspects, such as Mailänderli, Spitzbuebe, or Zimtsterne. But did you know that there are lots of lesser-known Swiss cookie recipes out there?

The recipe book Swiss Cookies by Andie Pilot of Helvetic Kitchen contains more than 40 Swiss cookie recipes. Apart from all the classics, you will also find several of her original creations. Think absinthe sablés, or Ovomaltine sandies…

Andie has kindly shared five original Swiss cookie recipes from her book:


Bisquits au Vin Blanc

Makes 60 cookies

125 g butter, room temperature
150 g sugar
1 egg yolk
pinch salt
50 ml white wine
250 g flour
1 egg white
sugar for sprinkling

The buttery Biscuits au Vin Blanc contain one of Switzerland’s best-kept secrets held towards the outside world: excellent Swiss wine.

Instructions to make the dough:

1. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and salt, then the white wine.
2. Sift the flour into the butter mixture and stir until combined.
3. Form into two discs, wrap, and chill in the fridge for about an hour, or until firm.

When you are ready to bake:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Roll out the dough to about 0.5 cm thick. Cut out star shapes with a 4-5 cm cutter, place on parchment-lined baking sheets, then cut out a star-shaped hole in the middle.
3. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar, then bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the bottoms are slightly golden.Cut off the dough one portion at a time and leave the rest chilled.


Geduldzeltli

Makes 100+ cookies

2 egg whites
80 g sugar
70 g flour
2-3 drops of flavoring (vanilla extract, rosewater, orange blossom water, lemon essence)

The Zeltli of the name is a dialect word for candy. And Geduld, the German word for patience, is what you need to eat a Geduldzeltli cookie. They are so hard that you have to patiently let them dissolve on your tongue...

Instructions to make the dough:

1. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, start whipping the egg whites until foamy. Slowly add the sugar, beating until the mixture is thick and glossy. Sift in the flour and fold in gently. Fold in the flavoring.
2. Using a piping bag with a round tip 1 cm in diameter, pipe button-sized circles close together onto two parchment-lined baking sheets.
3. Let the cookies sit overnight at room temperature.

When you are ready to bake:

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C.
2. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, or until they are completely dry but haven’t started to darken.


Hobelspäne

Makes 50 cookies

2 egg whites (70 g)
100 g icing sugar
75 ml cream
100 g flour
3-4 drops almond extract/bitter almond flavoring

These whimsical little cookies shaped like wood shavings taste great as a garnish on an ice cream sundae.

Hobelspäne, the German name for wood shavings, were first mentioned in a notable book that is over four centuries old: Anna Wecker’s Ein Köstlich new Kochbuch from 1597. Given that the grandmother of Friedrich Nietzsche included the recipe in her collection, Hobelspäne were likely a favorite cookie of the German philosopher.

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Whisk together the egg white and icing sugar until foamy. Add the cream and whisk well. Whisk in the flour and almond flavoring.
3. Using a piping bag and flat tip, pipe 6-8 long strips on a parchment-lined baking sheet (about 1.5-2 cm wide and 10-12 cm long).
4. Bake for around 6 minutes, or until you can see the edges turning golden.
5. Remove from the oven and immediately twirl around the end of a wooden spoon to make the curly shape. Work as quickly as possible, as the cookies harden as soon as they cool.
6. Repeat with the rest of the batter.


Pane dei Morti

Makes 26 cookies

200 g flour
200 g ground almonds or hazelnuts
200 g candied or caramelized chestnuts, chopped
100 g raisins
60 g brown or raw sugar
50 g pine nuts
30 g cocoa powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
120 ml coffee, hot
30 ml Nocino, grappa or other spirit
2 tbsp honey
1 egg white (35 g)

Pane dei morti, Italian for “bread of the dead,” is a cookie that was traditionally baked throughout Italy and Italian-speaking Switzerland. It would be served on November 1 and 2 to commemorate the departed during the festivals of All Saints and All Souls.

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, nuts, raisins, sugar, cocoa powder, and spices.
3. Prepare your hot coffee and whisk in the spirits and honey. Let cool until it is no longer hot to the touch, then whisk in the egg white. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix gently until it forms a dough.
4. With wet hands, gather the dough and shape it into two loaves. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
5. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the top has set completely. Take out of the oven and, once it is cool enough to touch, slice it into even pieces (around 2-3 cm thick). Place back on the baking sheet and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.


Zimtpitten

Makes 32 cookies

Base
150 g flour
150 g sugar
200 g ground almonds
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
150 g butter, cold
2 egg yolks

Topping
2 egg whites
30 g sugar
slivered almonds
pearl sugar

A buttery base, spread with whipped egg whites and topped with toasted almonds, this Christmas classic from Graubünden is extremely delicious and deserves to be baked year-round.

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, almonds, cinnamon, and salt. Rub in the cold butter until you get crumbs. Add the yolks and mix to form a dough.
3. Directly on a parchment-lined baking sheet, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 1-1.5 cm thick. Chill in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the topping.

How to make the topping:

1. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, start whipping the egg whites until foamy. Slowly add the sugar, beating until the mixture is thick and glossy.
2. Take out the chilled base and spread the egg white mixture on top. Sprinkle with slivered almonds and pearl sugar.
3. Bake for about 15 minutes in the bottom half of the oven, or until the almonds on top are nicely browned and the bottom is golden.
4. Let cool, then slice into squares or diamonds.


Swiss Cookies by Bergli Books

If there is ever a definitive guide to the art of baking Swiss cookies, this is it. A Swiss-Canadian chef, author Andie Pilot is an authority when it comes to baking traditional recipes. On her blog, she often shares recipes for the most typical dishes of Switzerland. And this cookie recipe collection is no different: the book contains more than 40 delicious recipes, from classic biscuits to cookies that his the zeitgeist.

I can recommend this book to expert chefs, as well as eager home bakers. Apart from the recipes, I really like the in-depth chapters dedicated to some iconic Swiss cookies, including Willisauer Ringli or Tirggel.

More information about Swiss Cookies at Bergli Books

(Recipe photographs copyright Andie Pilot/Bergli Books)


Even more Swiss winter foods and recipes:

Dimitri Burkhard

As the founder, editor, and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of Swiss Travel Communicators.

Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.

Dimitri Burkhard

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