Basler Leckerli

October 29, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: My college boyfriend was from a quaint village in the south of Germany. Seriously, when I visited, it was like I stepped into the land of Snow White. It was beautiful. Anyways, one of the great things about dating this foreigner was being introduced to new, German things. For Christmas one year when we were in school, his mother sent his favorite cookie recipes and we spent the day baking traditional German Christmas cookies. The Basler Leckerli were by far my favorite of them all: thick and spiced, sweetened by honey, they are best eaten with a mug of hot tea—the perfect afternoon snack. I continue to make them for Christmas, long after the boyfriend himself has gone. I still have the original German copies, stained and with translations: good memories, great cookies!TheFritschKitchen

Food52 Review: WHO: TheFritschKitchen bakes cookies (and more!) in Chicago, where she's an engineer.
WHAT: Subtly sweet spice cookies spiked with German kirschwasser.
HOW: Put your muscle into making these German holiday cookies: Roll out a thick spiced dough, score it, and bake—and then shower it all with a sugary glaze and down with a cup of tea.
WHY WE LOVE IT: TheFritschKitchen wasn't lying: These cookies take a little well-worth-it effort to roll out, but once you've done so, you're rewarded with a treat a bit like a fruitcake in cookie form, with the spices marrying with the citrus zest and almonds. Be sure to keep the glaze warm until you pour it over the cookies; you don't want it to crystallize!
The Editors

Makes: 4 dozen

Ingredients

Basler Leckerli

  • 250 grams honey
  • 250 grams sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 100 grams slivered almonds
  • 50 grams candied orange peel
  • 50 grams candied lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons kirschwasser (or brandy)
  • 500 grams flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 100 grams blanched almonds

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 200 grams sugar
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. In small pot, warm honey and sugar, stirring occasionally until sugar is melted. Set aside to cool.
  2. Once cooled, beat in eggs, spices, almonds, citrus, and kirschwasser.
  3. Whisk together flour and baking powder. Add to dough mixture, beating until just combined. Set dough aside for at least one hour (or, as the German mother warned, "sonst droht der Wahnsinn!"—madness will ensue!).
  4. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a jelly roll pan, either buttering it or lining it with parchment paper. Blanch almonds to remove their skins, and split if possible.
  5. Roll out the dough. Fair warning, this is going to be tough and frustrating, and mostly likely a little messy. It helps to roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper. Aim for a rectangle with a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Patience and some old-fashioned muscle will be your saving grace. Transfer into the prepared pan. Score the dough to give yourself "guidelines" for cutting the cookies after they're baked, and decorate with halved, blanched almonds.
  6. Bake at 350° F for 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the dough's thickness: The thicker it is (in case you gave up on the rolling), the longer it'll take). Bake until firm and golden brown.
  7. As soon as the pan goes into the oven, prepare your glaze! (Even better, start it a few minutes before the pan goes into the oven). Timing is everything here. Bring water and sugar to a boil, then drop to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. It will form a viscous glaze.
  8. When the cookies come out of the oven, immediately "shower" the cookies evenly with the glaze. Allow to cool.
  9. Remove from the pan and cut. Enjoy while wrapped in a blanket with a mug of tea, for once not cursing the snow outside.

More Great Recipes:
Cookie|German|Honey|Christmas|Holiday|Winter

Reviews (10) Questions (0)

10 Reviews

DC_Indy December 20, 2015
Delighted to see this recipe. My mother-in-law made a very similar cookie but use half honey and half molasses. Then she would shape each cookie into a lozenge shape - I think to avoid the problems of rolling the dough because her recipe said to roll and score as your's does. I am very happy to find out a bit more history of this cookie. BTW she called hers Lebkuchen but they are not like any other Lebkuchen recipe I have seen. Thanks!
 
Ayeleth December 18, 2015
I tried making those cookies, but failed at the honey-sugar mixture, when I got myself sort of a hard honey-caramel in a pot. Couldn't get much further... I used Demerara sugar. Could the fault be with this?
 
Julia S. November 20, 2015
Hi guys, Basel is a city in Switzerland, close to the German border. These are Swiss cookies, but they are very popular in Germany nonetheless! Great recipe!
 
Author Comment
TheFritschKitchen November 20, 2015
That makes sense! He grew up outside of Waldshut-Tiegen, which is across the border from Basel. And I know that Leckerli means delicious... so delicious Basel treats :)
 
gabsimonelouise November 6, 2015
Hi there! This looks like the perfect recipe to use up my candied citrus peel and kirsch that has been sitting around...however, it looks like the recipe is missing a step...? I am not seeing where to incorporate the ingredients from the eggs to the kirsch!
 
Author Comment
TheFritschKitchen November 6, 2015
You are right! I swear I reread my recipe at least 3 times to make sure I didn't miss a step. I'll update it right away, they all get mixed in right before the flour. Thank you!!
 
Author Comment
TheFritschKitchen November 6, 2015
Hello again - I'm trying to figure out how to edit the recipe, but have been unsuccessful so far. <br />The missing step 2 should read:<br /><br />Once cooled, beat in eggs, spices, almonds, citrus and kirschwasser.<br /><br />You can then move onto the next step with the flour!
 
gabsimonelouise November 6, 2015
Awesome, thanks! Can't wait to put my ingredients to good use. Good luck with editing that recipe...the edit function seems to be working on my computer so I don't know...oh technology!
 
gwimper November 6, 2015
I love these cookies too. I haven't baked your version yet, but I think it will happen this christmas. Thank you. I love that you have an upside down original german recipe pictured.
 
Author Comment
TheFritschKitchen November 6, 2015
Thank you! The upside down picture is an accident though - the photo is right side up but for whatever reason once I upload it, the website is determined to display it upside down! Let me know how you like this version, it's the only version I have ever had and I am interested to know how they compare to others!