Wednesday, December 14, 2011
As you must know by now, I grew up in Paris, France, but spent my idyllic childhood summers in Switzerland,where my grand parents had a chalet tucked between forests , cherry orchards, and meadows which turned into cows pastures during the summer weeks, their bells lulling us to sleep.
Some dishes from this poor agrarian country ( when the banking system kicked in, everything changed) formed my taste buds, and left an indelible memory of favorite foods that I go back to over and over again: a particular type of molasses that was slathered onto thick slices of buttered country bread for breakfast, toasts with a creamy morel sauce, chard gratin, black cherry jam, raspberry syrup in tall glasses of chilled spring water, Berlin style donuts with a berry filling, Gruyere and vacherin cheese fondue, fried polenta and the now somewhat famous Basel Leckerli: with local spice merchants, the proximity of Italy with its own similar Panforte, and the taste of the times ( we are talking 14th century) for many of these holidays type spices, all conjured to the creation of the leckerli cookie in the town of Basel.Something up to now exclusively found in Switzerland.But now Pierre herme in Paris has his own recipe and I found the one I used on a local foodie site that I subscribed to. The secret is out !!
If you want to try it here is the recipe:
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1/2 medium lemon
1/8 teaspoon of each:ground black pepper,nutmeg,Cinnamon and clove
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch ground black pepper
pinch of ground white pepper
1 cup of diced candied zest ( I used lemon and orange)
1 cup of sliced almonds
1/2 cup of kirsch
2 cups of flour sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons of kirsch
In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine honey, sugar, lemon zest, all the spices, cook, stirring constantly until honey and sugar are dissolved. about 2 minutes.
remove pan from heat and gently stir candied peels and almonds. add kirsch ,flour, baking soda until a dough just form.
put a plastic wrap sheet on a baking sheet, put the dough on it cover with another plastic wrap and roll or press with fingers to get a 3/8 inch tick by 12x16 inch rectangle.
poke with a fork and refrigerate overnight.
preheat oven to 400.
remove dough from plastic wrap and butter your baking sheet.place the dough back.bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
while the cookies are baking, make the icing: combine powdered sugar,kirsch and 2 tablespoons of sugar and whisk until smooth. remove the Leckerli from oven and immediately use a pastry brush to ice the cookies.Trim sides and cut the leckerli in whatever shapes you want .
makes 25 to 30 cookies
cook time: 20 minutes plus overnight refrigeration
recipe adapted from Romauld Feger, Vitrine at the St Regis, San Francisco.