This cookie comes from my native country Switzerland and it is delicious. The picture does not do justice for the flavour of the cookie when you take that first bite. It is a little bit of heaven when you are able to indulge in this specialty cookie and a hot cup of coffee or tea.
- 450 grams honey (16 ounces)
- 300 grams of sugar (10.5 ounces)
- 1½ Tablespoons of cinnamon
- Pinch of ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces ) ground candied orange peel
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) candied lemon peel
- 200 grams (7 ounces) ground almonds
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 deciliter of Kirsch (Swiss cherry liquor)
- 600 grams (21 ounces) flour
- 1½ teaspoons of baking powder
- 150 grams (5 ounces) confectioner's sugar
- an additional 3 to 5 tablespoons Kirsch or water
- Put honey sugar, cinnamon, clove powder and nutmeg in a pan, heat p slowly, then remove from heat.
- Add candied orange peel, candied Lemon peed, almonds, and zest of lemon in a large bowl, stirring contents until evenly coated and mixed.
- Add Kirsch, flour and baking powder.
- Knead this all together to form a soft dough. Divide the dough in two equal parts.
- While this dough is still warm, roll it out on the back of two greased baking sheets approximately 5 mm (0.2 inches) thick.
- Let this rest 5 to 6 hours, or overnight in a dry place. We have been known to place the baking pans into the oven, or at the top of the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius or 430 degrees fahrenheit.
- Bake in a preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Mix the last two items in the item list and frost the cookies immediately after they come out of the oven.
- Cut off the edges of the cookies (these tend to be over cooked) and keep these as samples.
- Cut the cookies in the pan while they are still warm. A good size is 5cm x 3 cm or 2 inches x 1½ inches.
- Take the cookies off the baking sheets while they are still warm.
- Guard these cookies as they will disappear if left out in the open!
- Keep these cookies in a covered cookie tin.
Where do these cookies come from?
These cookies are made in a part of Switzerland called Basel Stadt. It is one of the cantons (equal to a state or province) in Switzerland and is in the German speaking part of the country. These cookies have been made for centuries and have become a world class favourite for many people. There is even a place in Basel called “Leckerli Haus” where they sell, and ship nothing but Basler Leckerli around the world.
Just a note: you can use either Leckerli or Laeckerli, both spellings in a search engine will bring you results.
Leckerli, Laeckerli, how did they become known as Fire Boy Cookies?
As you can see from the recipe, there is nothing there that would indicate any kind of “fire”. But the recipe is only part of this story. My husband, my sweetling, other half (never the better half), loves to bake. He is great with pumpkin pies, apple pies and cookies of all kinds. My father, years ago, would go to Switzerland on business trips and we always looked forward to his return, as there was always something brought back for us from our home country. One year in particular, he brought back Basler Leckerli, from the Laeckerli Huus, with strict instructions to treat these goodies like gold. They were expensive even in Swiss terms. Needless to say, we were all intrigued with the contents of this bag. Peering within, we expected to see something mouth watering and delightful. Such was not the case. Out came these cookies with their glazed tops, but they really didn’t look like anything that “special”.
Like many things that are built up by reputation, our delight at the sight of these cookies soon turned to disappointment. Our expectations were not filled, as many cookies certainly looked much nicer than these. After all we eat not just with our mouths, but also with our eyes. That is why restaurants and great cooks take the time to “present” their culinary delights.
Once we were over our disappointment at the sight, we turned our thoughts to trying them. Well that is when our taste buds exploded with flavour and texture. We could close our eyes and our mouths just filled with these bar cookies, would take us away to Switzerland where these had come from. From that time onwards my father’s business trips would always include a trip to the Laeckerli Huus and the delights that he would bring home to us.
Now comes the story of the renaming of Basler Leckerli to the now infamous “Fire Boy Cookies “.
The rest of the story: This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! My husband went on a rampage looking for the recipe for these Basler Leckerli. He looked in cookbooks that my mother had from Switzerland, he searched the cookbook section of many a bookstore, he even wrote to Laeckerli Huus to see if he could get his hands on the recipe. Every time he tried a recipe, it came close, but was not exactly like the original we had tried.
Finally, by tweeking and adding or subtracting small items in the recipe, he came close to the original. Enter the day and age of the internet and voila, recipes for cookies of all kinds were easier to find. By studying these other recipes, he was able to reproduce these delights that we had enjoyed.
You will notice in the original recipe above, that all measurements are in grams and deci-liters for the Kirsch. Well this is the first place where North Americans and European recipes don’t see eye to eye. My sweetling, during one of him many attempts at making these cookies, read the recipe wrong and added way too much Kirsch. In fact he added 10 times the amount of alcohol as was required by the recipe. In amazement he could not figure out how come this batch was so much more liquid than all the others he had tried to make before! He was using much more flour to roll and knead the cookie dough, than he had ever done before, but put that down to his inevitable “tweaking” of the recipe.
We were enjoying our dinner this evening , with some friends, while the cookies he had prepared earlier were in the oven baking. During dinner all of a sudden the oven door crashed open and a blue light emanated from the kitchen, blew its way through the dining room and stopped around the corner back in the kitchen. Needless to say, everyone at the table jumped a mile in their seats, wondering what the heck had just happened. Sweetling, made his way into the kitchen to see the oven door blown open and his lovely cookies turning a wonderful golden colour. The aroma coming out of the kitchen was wonderful, you could smell the orange and lemon, the spices and that great cherry aroma everywhere.
There was a great discussion on what had just happened and my husband was just beside himself with laughter when he confessed his mistake of adding so much more Kirsch than he was supposed to. With his unflappable way, he just explained to our guests that once the Kirsch was in the batter, there was no way to take it out again, and he was not about to waste all that fruit, nuts and spices because he goofed. He was sure that it wasn’t a mistake that would end up harming anyone who partook of his creation. Well we were all literally in tears with laughter, while he remained unfazed by the commotion.
He still had one more pan of those cookies to bake!
We continued with our meal and discussion over the blown open oven door, when the second batch of cookies went into the oven. Sure enough, 10 minutes into the baking, the oven door was blown open again and we all jumped in our seats once more. We can only figure that this was caused by the alcohol vapours that were forming within the oven. Once the oven was filled with the vapour, it ignited and sent that curious blue flame through the air.
Again, my sweetling ran to kitchen to make sure that his cookies were unharmed by the explosive nature of the baking. The oven door was closed to let the cookies finish baking and thank God no fire engines were called.
Our company laughed so hard, and dubbed these cookies “Fire Boy Cookies”!
A great selection of recipes from the middle of Europe. The Swiss Cookbook
The Swiss, like many European countries, enjoy good healthy and hearty meals. You will find lots to tempt your taste buds here. Click the image to find out more.
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