Christmas

Mailänderli and Zimtsterne

11:56 AM

 

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The English names of these two cookie types are “Milano cookies” and “Cinnamon stars” and they are 2 of the 4 most popular Christmas cookies in Switzerland.
When you think Christmas you might immediately think about ginger bread cookies often decorated with coloured icing sugar, more often than not in the form of the ginger bread man, while I have no idea where that one originated (probably Germany) it is definitely NOT how holidays cookies look in Switzerland, I have never baked or seen a gingerbread cookie in my childhood, that goes to say that each countries have their own holiday recipes.
The Swiss like their cookies less sweet, and apart from the Milano all contain more almonds than flour, and are usually also low on butter. The Cinnamon stars are made of ground almond, beaten egg whites and icing sugar and nothing else, you can find the recipe for that one here. And it is probably the most extravagant looking of the holiday cookies we have, mainly due to it’s glossy white icing, now to make this recipe I do two things differently, first I do not cut the shapes and let them rest overnight before baking, I let the whole dough rest in the fridge for a few hours, and then I do not apply the icing before baking as they mention, I tried it once, the icing cooks, powder and get a dull brownish hue, and this is not how this cookie should look, they have to have a bright white icing, so to achieve that I brush them as soon as they come out of the oven and let it dry.

The Milano is a golden cookie that is the only one made with big quantity of white flour and butter along with quite a few eggs, this is what give it its signature taste, you can find the recipe here. The cinnamon stars have to be cut in the shape of stars to be traditional, and I do not deviate from that. Milano can be of any shape you want though. We usually stick to Christmassy shapes like stars, moons, and trees, but also hearts and flowers.

This year I am going to do all 4 varieties of cookies, I did a bunch of Swabia cookies this weekend I will blog about soon, and attempt a batch of “Brunsli” which are rich chocolate and almond powder cookies, they are usually tricky as the dough gets sticky, and I never made it from scratch, but I will attempt it this year.

These 4 cookies are so famous in Switzerland that around the holidays supermarkets start selling the ready made dough in the cold section so that people can cut some time in the preparation (prep time is not funny for kids and I saw that Ishita is no different she looses patience with that phase). The good new is that all these dough freeze very well, so it’s possible to make them in advance, put them in Ziploc bag and freeze ahead of time, the thawing phase usually doesn’t take too much time either. This year I made some Milano in advance but since they are already disappearing fast from the box I will have to make one more batch.
All the ingredients are super easy to find in India, the only one being costly being Almonds, and you need to grind them yourself, so having a good grinder (and it’s a must have in India anyway) is a good idea. The almonds are ground with their skin too, this is what give the cookies they lovely brown hue. And they are perfect if you aren’t an Ace cookie decorator (like me who never gets piped icing right).
Then all you need to make it right is put them in metal cookie box, they will do in plastic too, but holiday themed cookie box just brings the right thing to your festive season decor, with that little retro feel.
Back home it is traditional to bake them in huge amount and gift some in small translucent cellophane bags to people around you be it family, friends or colleagues. I even remember one year when our elementary school teacher made us do some in school to gift our parents, that’s how much part of the holiday season they are for us Swiss.

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