Christmas

Brunsli

1:09 PM

a traditional Swiss holiday cookie made with rich cocoa and dark chocolate

Brunsli means brownie in Swiss German, and is the name given to one of our traditional holiday cookie. Like most cookies, the ingredients are simple, and the technique fairly straight forward (non expert bakers can pull them off easily).
They are like most Christmas treats in my homeland made with ground almonds. What makes these a big favourite is their deep rich chocolate taste and chewy consistency. They are made with the darkest chocolate you can find and afford, and some cocoa powder is added to the mix. They also contain a splash of Kirch, which is a Swiss cherry spirit, but worry not, the alcohol content evaporated during the baking process, so they are completely kids friendly. If you can't find Kirch (not sure it is even possible in India) a splash of brandy or better yet rum will do it too. If you are really against the idea of using any spirits, you can add a splash of lemon juice or a bit of vanilla essence instead.

Also keep in mind that the dough has to be refrigerated for several hours, ideally overnight so that the flavour develops and soaks the almond powder properly, so plan accordingly.

So without any further blabbering, here is how to make said cookies :


Ingredients

500g ground almonds (almonds with skin)
300g sugar
4 egg whites
200g Dark chocolate (I use Cadbury Bourneville, but if you can find darker, do it, the darker the better)
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 pinch of clove powder
3-4 tsp of Kirch (or brandy or rum, if not using alcohol, 2tsp of lemon or a few drops of vanilla essence)
A little white flour if the dough gets too sticky to work.

1) Mix the sugar, salt, almonds, cinnamon and cocoa powder in a bowl, add 2-3 tbsp of white flour at this point too, you might need more latter, but the little amount of flour will absorb the excess moisture while mixing the ingredients.

2) add the 4 unbeaten egg whites to the dry ingredients and fold in to have a wet texture. The egg whites act as a binding glue that will harden and keep the cookie together while baking.

3) cut the chocolate in small pieces and put in a microwave oven proof bowl, microwave for a few seconds at a time and stir in between to melt evenly. Add a few tea spoon of hot water once melted to make it more liquid. You can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler by placing the bowl in a pan of boiling water, but it will take a bit more time.

4) Immediately pour your hot melted chocolate in the cookie dough mix and stir immediately adding the Kirch or liquor. Form a dough. This part gets a bit messy, the dough will be sticky, do not look at a non stick soft consistency. It is not supposed to be. But the dough should hold its own without leaving huge clumps on your fingers, so if this happens, add a little flour at a time until you can lift the dough ball of the counter without it breaking apart instantly.

5) once that consistency reached, wrap your dough in a piece of cling film and put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight being better. The dough needs to steep and develop its flavour. You can also at this point freeze that dough and keep it for months until ready to use.

6) when ready to bake cookies, preheat your oven at 250 degrees Celsius and line your baking trays with baking parchment...you absolutely NEED baking parchment, greasing the pan and dusting with flour won't work too well.

7) roll down the dough which you brough back at room temperature to about 8-10 mm thickness (yes they are thick cookies) and cut shapes out with a cookie cutter of your choice. Place on the baking tray and bake for about 4-5 minutes

You'll know they are ready when the edges will start browning slightly. They are still going to be soft at this point. You need to let them cool completely for them to be hard on the outside. After a few minutes out of the oven, remove them from the baking tray and let them cool on a cooling rack.

Once cool, transfer to a cookie tin or airtight container, enjoy whenever the fancy strikes.


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