I sat damp November out, ignoring the premature strains of The Pogues and tried not to get too overexcited by the red cups at Starbucks as I waited for December and its promise of legitimate Advent thrills. I am now daydreaming of sprouts, bread sauce and mince pies, happy in the tangerine promise of Christmas to come.
A timely foodstuff has floated into my day-dreamy place: a Swiss biscuit called Leckerli. These little Christmas helpers are sure to see me through Advent. A friend recently proffered these in the office, in a crisp white paper bag all the way from Basel, Switzerland, where they are a speciality.
Immediately hooked, I scoured the Internet and have located a recipe from Stephen Jackson, correspondent at the Huddersfield Examiner. Writing about these spicy treats, he strikes just the right note, having been familiar with them from childhood. I wish I had been too – I will be making up for those lost Christmases.
Here is the link to his recipe. The mixture came out a bit dry so I used the clods that looked mixed and pressed them into a tin… though I did use the wrong sugar so perhaps that was the problem. Not entirely sure what to do with the almonds, I added them in with the flour, but again, perhaps there’s a bit too much dry stuff here to make it work. I didn’t have Kirsch so I used brandy in the mix, which was pretty good too and I left off the glaze for fear of losing all my teeth.
There was doubt as the sawdust-like dough went into the oven but when the biscuit emerged it was (and still is) dense and chewy, and tastes of Christmas, if rather ugly (as if Father Christmas sat on a packet of mince pies). If you want neat squares, cut the slab while it’s still warm or face a losing battle; you could build houses with this stuff. Or just break it up.
I will try this recipe again, and perhaps another one translated from the many US versions around, just to make sure I’m on the right snowy track… See this as phase 1.