The upside in working for a cookbook publishing house is the higher affinity people have concerning food, that’s at least what my experience tells me and probably not really unexpected. Our semi-regular meetings are usually held in different places. When we meet at a restaurant or coffee bar for instance, the choice is typically led by discussions around the quality of its menu and such. For in-house meetings however, there is always somebody bringing some homemade food. Field tests! I especially love these meetings, because I can use the attendees as guinea pigs for new finger food or cake creations and get immediate feedback.
For our last meeting I brought what was supposed to be a very rich chocolate cake with nuts, which sadly didn’t turn out exactly as planed. Yet I didn’t hesitate to bring it along, clearly risking a major thumbs down – not because I’m into getting a slap but I’d like to call this some sort of reality check, at a minimum providing a solid base for a good laugh. But to my utter surprise they specifically went straight for the half-baked, inner parts of the cake… But I’m not trying to steal the spot light from the real discovery this afternoon, my colleague Maike’s cookies: the Basler Brunsli she had baked using her grandma’s recipe. Maike blamed her boyfriend (way to go! I do it, too, all the time!) for the cookies distinctive Kirsch flavor – and I think her boyfriend is a genius! Thankfully she published the recipe here (in German) and below you can find my – sightly adapted – version. A great recipe to kick off this years Christmas baking season, and while the first bites might make you wonder “Well, ok, it’s a chocolate cookie, so what, …?” you just can’t stop nibbling away and find the Kirsch note highly addictive…
Looking for more holiday-themed baking recipes? Maybe you want to have a look at some of my favorites?
Here you go…
Pepparkakor (Swedish Christmas ginger cookies)
Chocolate coconut cubes (watch out, highly addictive)
Brombeerbusserl (blackberry smacks that melt in your mouth)
Quarkstollen (curd stollen without raisins)
Vanillekipferl (worth all the effort)
Wespennester (my kind of macarons)
Chop the dark chocolate and melt over a hot bain marie while stirring regularly, taking care that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Set aside.
In a large bowl mix together the ground almonds, the cocoa powder, the sugar, the salt and the flour.
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold them into the almond mix. I used my Kitchen Aid (with dough hook) for this step, because the dough was pretty dry.
Lastly add the melted chocolate as well as a generous shot of Kirsch (to taste) to the dough and knead shortly (because my dough was still a bit sticky, I had to add a little more ground almonds at this point). Form into two separate disks, wrap into cling film and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (430° Fahrenheit). Slightly flour a wooden board or silicone mat and roll out the dough until it reaches the desired thickness (contrary to the original BBs I prefer mine pretty thin, about 5 mm/0,2 inch). Cut out the shapes of your choice and place on a parchment paper lined baking tray. (Traditional recipes suggest letting them dry on the tray for several hours before sending them to the oven – I skipped this step.)
Bake for 5 to 7 minutes on middle level depending how thick your cookies are. They should be crisp on the outside, with a rather soft and chewy core (bake them a little longer, if you prefer them all crisp). Take out and let cool off completely. Store in an airtight cookie jar. Add a piece of a fresh apple (replace as needed) to add extra moisture to the cookies – if desired.
Recipe source: Maike's grandma, Küchengötter.de, adapted
Prep time & chilling: ~90 minutes, baking 8-10 minutes
Ingredients (yields about 80 cookies):
150 g dark chocolate
300 g ground almonds (more as needed)
50 g unsweetened cocoa powder
200 g sugar
a pinch of salt
50 g all-purpose flour , extra for dusting the board
4 egg whites (M or L)
a generous shot Kirsch (at least 2 tbsp)