Christmas Recipes

Swiss Biberli (Little Beavers)

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Yield: about 50 cookies



  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Zest of 1 small lemon, finely grated


  • 4 ounces (about 1 cup) whole blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 small lemon, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons Kirsch


  1. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F.


  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices; stir well to mix.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the honey, molasses, and sugar with a wooden spoon. Place over low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the water and lemon zest.
  4. Stir in the flour mixture with a large rubber spatula.
  5. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and cover it loosely with plastic wrap.
  6. Let the dough cool while you prepare the filling.


  1. Combine the almonds and sugar in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse repeatedly until the almonds are finely ground. Add the lemon zest and Kirsch and pulse until the filling forms a ball. If it resists forming a ball add a teaspoon of water and pulse again until it does.
  2. Remove the filling from the food processor and roll it into a cylinder. Divide into 3 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a cylinder 12 inches long. Use some sugar to help you roll if the filling is very sticky. Place on a pan and cover with plastic wrap.
  3. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and roll each to a 12 inch cylinder. One at a time, on a floured surface flatten a cylinder of dough to make it about 2 1/2 inches wide. Paint the surface of the dough with water and place one of the cylinders of filling on it. Pull the dough up around the filling to enclose it completely. Turn the filled dough seam side down and roll it under the palms of the hands to make a cylinder 18 inches long.
  4. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  5. To cut the cookies, make alternating diagonal cuts that are an inch apart on one side and 1/4 inch apart on the other.
  6. Place the biberli on the prepared pans, leaving about one inch around each cookie in all directions.
  7. Bake the biberli for about 20 to 25 minutes, until well risen and firm, Do not over-bake or the filling might bubble out.
  8. Slide the papers from the pans to racks.
  9. Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.


For simpler cookies, omit filling and divide dough into 20 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten it with the bottom of a glass on a floured surface (flour the top of the dough, too. Line up an inch apart on baking pans and bake as above - just do not over-bake or they will be hard.

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