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It's Time to Bake Swiss Christmas Cookies

Swiss Christmas Cookies - Joujou  /

It's that time of the year again, Christmas season is upon us. And even though this year's holidays will probably affected by more or less strict Covid-19 restrictions, it's still a season to rejoice and celebrate Christ's birth with family and friends.

Christmas Season Joys

Christmas eve is still a month away and with it the family get-together (if Covid restrictions allow for it!), the good food and the gifts. However, in Switzerland, there are many things that we enjoy throughout the Christmas season. I'm thinking of advent wreaths,  christmas calendars and advent windows to mark the time until Christmas eve, making a gingerbread house, doing some candle dipping, enjoying some hot glow wine and much more. However, the most typical Christmas activity in Switzerland - and one that songwriter Andrew Bond eternalized in his most famous Christmas song - is baking Swiss Christmas cookies!

Typical Swiss Christmas Cookies

What makes a cookie a Christmas cookie? And how does a typical Swiss Christmas cookie look and taste like? I cannot answer the first question with certainty but my guess is that traditional Christmas cookies simply developed over time. I can, however, provide a good answer to the second question with this list of most typical Swiss Christmas cookies.

1) Mailänderli

It is probably the most basic of all Christmas cookies but also the most versatile. A few ingredients (butter, eggs, flour and sugar) and lots of different cookie cutters make a fun collection of cookies. Plus, you can add different decorations and flavors if you'd like. You can find a recipe here.

Mailänderli - Michael Eugster  /

2) Spitzbuben

The name of these cookies literally means 'rascal'. They are two layered butter cookies with jam in between. The top cookie has smaller cut-outs which often times make the shape of a smiley face. Hence, the name 'Spitzbuben'. You can find a recipe here.

Spitzbuben - Joujou  /

3) Cinnamon Stars (Zimtsterne): 

This is a star-shaped almond cookie with a lot of cinnamon in it and egg-white merengue on top. It needs to be dried overnight before baking. You can find a recipe here.

Cinnamon Stars - Gila Hanssen  /

4) Haselnussmakrönli

Eggwhites, salt, sugar and hazelnuts - you don't need more than that to make these tasty hazelnut macarons. You can find a picture and recipe here.

5) Brunsli

These cookies are literally called 'brownies' here in Switzerland. And that's because they contain a lot of good Swiss chocolate! The brown cookie in the top picture is a Brunsli. You can find a recipe here.

6) Vanillegipfeli

These amazing vanilla flavored butter and almond cookies go perfect with a cup of hot coffee or tea. They are a bit more delicate to make but worth the effort. You can find a recipe here.

Vanillegipfeli - Rudi Arlt  /

7) Chräbbeli

Chräbbeli are the toughest cookies in the bunch. Some people dislike them because they are a bit harder on your teeth. Nevertheless, these anise flavored cookies are a staple in any Christmas cookie selection! If you want a softer version, try making Anise Bread. You can find a recipe and pictures here.

8) Tirggel

This Christmas cookie is typical for Zurich. It's a honey flavored hard and flat cookie that is made with a wooden mold. They are also great Christmas tree decorations. You can find pictures and a recipe here.



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