Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Basler Brusnli: Chocolate Almond Cookies from Switzerland

Anybody starting to get sick of Christmas cookie recipes? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I can never get enough. I’ve seen enough recipes to make Christmas cookies every night between now and Christmas 2011.

And I still want to read about more. This is why when one of my favorite baking experts, Nick Malgieri, wrote up a piece for Saveur about Christmas cookies around the world, I had to read it. I was immediately drawn to the photos and description for the Basler Brunsli, an almond-based chocolate cookie.

I decided that I needed to give this a try, and picked up some blanched almonds at the store. Once home, I discovered that Kerrin Rousset, a gifted food and travel writer who actually LIVES in Switzerland (!), posted a very similar recipe in her post on Christmas cookies in Zurich.

If that isn’t an endorsement for this cookie, I don’t know what is. Besides, perhaps, my telling you that they’re delicious, easy to make, and gluten/dairy free to boot!

Basler Burnsli (adapted from Saveur)

8 ounces blanched almonds
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (Callebaut 60.5% cacao)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites

Finely grind almonds and sugar in a food processor.

Now the weird part: The chocolate is just chopped, not melted.

This made me a bit uneasy. Would it really grind down properly in the food processor?

Oh ye of so little faith. Just grind up the chocolate, and then add the cinnamon, salt, and egg whites. You'll have a beautiful-looking dough.

Roll the dough about ¼ inch think between two sheets of parchment paper – I did this with my fancy new rolling pin bands to make for more precise thickness.

Use cookie cutters of your choice to shape the cookies - I used a snowflake cookie cutter. Let the shaped cookies dry on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet for three hours. The dough will be quite sticky before drying, but the cut cookies will be much easier to handle after the drying process.

Bake at 300° F for 12-15 minutes, when they should be slightly puffed.

Let the cookies cool before enjoying.


I promised my dad that he would get some of these when we all meet up for Christmas on Thursday night. I may need to make another batch to make that happen.

Do you have any cookies from other countries that you enjoy making around Christmas?


  1. I have a huge list of stuff to bake, but its harder to just whip stuff up when you're in the 10th grade and don't actually have any money....=P
    Those look wonderful, by the way!

  2. I've never seen a cookie recipe like this. I love chocolate and almond and I love how it's all naturally gluten-free. Yum!

  3. Ooo, I love the look of these, and they sound yummy! With so many gluten-free friends and family, I feel like I'm destined to make them (and macarons). Also, there can never be too many cookie recipes. NEVER.

  4. @fitchocoholic Well, what can I say, except study hard and land a well-paying job so that you can bake in your (non-existant) spare time :). These are pretty easy, though - if your parents picked up 8 oz of blanched almonds and some semi-sweet chocolate cips, you should have everything else around.

  5. @Evan Thomas This was totally new to me too, Evan. And they are kind of like brownie cookies. Nice and soft and...oh man, I had to go and add that salt, too...and they're all AT HOME.

  6. @Jessica @ bake me away! I totally agree, Jessica. I mean, I may not make 95% of the cookie recipes I see, but they all inspire us to try different textures/flavor combinations/etc.

  7. fabulous ! as you know, i *love* the shape of your brunsli ! i definitely have to make these myself, and i think i'll give them a little sprinkle of fleur de sel on top, mmmm. i hope your dad enjoys them too =)

    thanks so much for the shout out above. happy holidays from switzerland !!

  8. oh these are super cute and sound delicious too! Pizzelle's are about as far as I've ventured into the internation cookie world though.

  9. wow - these look delightul!! Great job!

  10. This is completely my kind of recipe! Dairy-free, easy, chocolate, nuts... I wish you could ship me a packet. :)

  11. @Kerrin @ MyKugelhopf.ch Thanks Kerrin! I was thinking of doing heart-shaped brunsli for Valentine's Day. Maybe with some chili powder mixed in for variety. Though the concept of EXTRA sea salt - especially coarse - is intriguing.

  12. @Emily @ For Sweets Sake They're REALLY easy, too (assuming you have a food processor).

  13. @Lisa (bakebikeblog) Thanks, Lisa! They are an easy slam-dunk as long as you remember to let them dry out before baking them.

  14. @Hannah Oh Hannah, I *could* mail you some, though I don't know how well they would keep. You should hijack a food processor and whip up a batch for yourself.

  15. I love the food processor! It's like a miracle machine!

  16. I'm in the middle of baking kolache as we speak! That's more of a pastry than a cookie, but my Hungarian-descended Grandma makes kolache and kifli every Christmas; this is my first one taking a stab at her recipe.

    Thanks for the interesting recipe!

  17. I can't think of any, but these ones look really really good! I am always kind of surprised when I hear the sound of the chocolate in the blender or food processor and it somehow blends and doesn't kill my kitchen appliances.

  18. @Ashley @ the fit academic I just got mine for my birthday in August and have been making recipes JUST because they call for a food processor.

  19. @Mary at n00bcakesOh yum, now I want to get my hands on a kolache recipe - hope you are posting yours.

  20. @Alina @ Duty Free Foodie I know, it's totally freaky, isn't it? I guess chocolate has a low melting point, and if you use high-quality chocolate, it has a lot of cocoa butter.

    If you use low-quality chocolate, well, shame on you.

  21. You make me long for Christmas cookies (or Guetzli, as we say here) in June!

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