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Baseler Leckerli (Swiss Spice Cookies)

This is adapted from a recipe Otto Eckstein, executive pastry chef at the Pan Pacific Hotel, learned nearly 50 years ago from a Swiss baker.


  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup slivered unblanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup candied orange peel, chopped
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Simple glaze


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or liberally grease them.
  2. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and baking soda.
  3. Combine the honey, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Place over low heat until the honey just melts. Do not let boil. (Or, combine the honey, sugar and water in a microwave-safe, large bowl, and microwave on medium for 1 minute, until the honey just melts.)
  4. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let cool slightly.
  5. Add the sifted flour mixture, the almonds, orange peel and lemon zest. Blend until the mixture comes together in a heavy, sticky dough, adding a spoonful or two of water if needed. (The mixing can be done by hand, but it's labor intensive.) Resist the urge to add more water to make the dough easier to handle; it would impair the texture of the finished cookies.
  6. Spread the dough about 1/2 to 1 inch thick on the baking sheets, forming 3 rectangles, each about 8 x 9 inches.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops turn a medium brown.
  8. While the leckerli are baking, make the simple glaze.
  9. When the dough rectangles have baked, remove pans to a rack and immediately brush the tops with glaze. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  10. Cut into 1 x 3-inch bars or into diamond shapes. Transfer to racks to cool completely.
  11. Store in airtight containers, placing wax paper between layers. Let age at least 1 week, preferably longer. No need to freeze these cookies - properly stored, they keep well throughout the holidays.

Yields 5 to 6 dozen cookies.

Posted by Annette at Recipe Goldmine 12/5/2001 5:39 pm.

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