Monday, October 08, 2007

Mondays with Maida - Basler Brunsli

Basler Brunsli
Page 258 in the old book / page 276 in the new book

At times like this, I find myself wishing there were a few photos in the book. These cookies are supposed to be bars, but between my messy cutting and a dough that probably could have (and should have) been stiffer, they were more like squarish blobs. But I'm not going to complain much, because aside from appearance they turned out as advertised. They were indeed "light colored and crisp on the outside -- dark, moist, and chewy on the inside".

And sweet. Oh my gosh are they sweet. They have a lovely complex flavor, that tempers the sweetness slightly, but these cookies are still achingly sweet. Several ingredients contribute to their unique taste - chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, and kirschwasser. No one dominates, instead they meld together into something that is dark and delicious.

The dough, which is basically a meringue with ground almonds and the above mentioned chocolate, cinnamon, cloves and kirsch, is formed into a rectangle and left for an hour to firm up before being cut into bars. My dough was still pretty soft and gooey, so even though I managed to cut the bars using a wet knife as Maida suggested, I found they had generally healed up by the time I got around to transferring them to the cookie sheets. Next time I would cut a row at a time and move them before cutting more. Once on the cookie sheets the bars must sit for another four hours before baking, so this is a recipe you plan your day around :)

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: "The spices really threw me off. They taste like they should be in a pumpkin pie, but here they are in a meringue cookie with almonds and chocolate. This is a very interesting and different taste. Meringue cookies are not my favorite since they tend to be so sweet, but because they were so different I’ll rate them as a 4. Rating - 4.0"

Denny: "OK, minus one for not tasting like chocolate with all the spices. Unusual taste - not bad, just unusual. Couldn't taste the almonds either. Rating - 2.0"

Laura: "Crunchy exterior with melt-in-your-mouth chew gooey nutty insides. Yum! Rating - 4.5"

Terri: "These are outstanding! These meringue type cookies are very tasty with a wonderful assortment of spices. Just the right amount of chocolate and almonds too. As with meringue cookies, these are on the sweeter side. Rating - 5.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.9

Next week - Hazelnut Rusks

Nutrition Facts

10 comments:

santos. said...

basler brunsli are freakishly common cookies here around xmas; well, maybe not so freakish considering a majority of the pastry chefs at the hotels are european. i'm actually a big fan of them...in the holiday season. i've seen rather sturdy versions of this where the cookie is obvs cut out from a slab (straight on the sheet? after baking maybe, before it cools?), and also a softer version which is on rice paper for stability. or maybe that's a different cookie, same taste....

reid said...

Cathy,

I can't say that I've ever seen, or even heard of, these types of cookies before. For the most part, I don't care too much for overly sweet cookies, so I'm not sure that I would enjoy these.

Nupur said...

They look really really challenging, Cathy! I have never seen anything like this. Your cookie project is truly a learning experience for me.

Julie said...

These look fabulous to me. I've seen recipes for basler brunsli before, but never made nor tasted them. I happen to be a big fan of chocolate, nuts and spices together, which I think of as a very Christmas-y combination. I'm going to look this up in my Maida book (the new version) right now...

rowena said...

Now this is definitely something new to my ears and eyes. They look good apart from the fact of being overly sweet. Kirschwasser...got a whole bottle of it and it ain't going anywhere. Maybe *I* should give this one a try!

Cathy said...

Hi Santos! I think the ones that are cut are probably made from a stiffer dough. I just checked my other cookbooks and found one other recipe (Nick Malgieri) and he says to pat out the dough and then cut it out in shapes. His has more chocolate, no kirsch (and I was thinking that was a key ingredient!), and less egg white (which isn't even beaten). I'm kind of curious to try some others now!

Hi Reid! This was the first I'd heard of them as well. They're Swiss and apparently traditional for Christmas. I think in small doses they're wonderful and I'll bet there are other recipes that aren't quite so sweet.

Hi Nupur! Getting them to be perfect squares or rectangles would be hard, but I didn't do that as you can see ;) Otherwise, they're really pretty easy. They are similar in a sense to French macarons and Italian brutti ma buoni (finely ground almonds, sugar and egg whites), but these have lots more going on with the chocolate, spices and kirsch.

Hi Julie! I like this combination as well and as I told Santos, now I'm very curious to try a different recipe or (even better) find some in a bakery... maybe in NYC :)

Hi Rowena! Thankfully I too had the kirsch already on hand. If you try these, please let me know how they turn out. Better - send a picture!

mari said...

Before reading your post, I thought this was a meringue cookie. Certainly looks like it. I'm not sure I can word this properly, but I find something very exciting about cookies like this, like they're begging me to crack them and eat them!

And now, a question: what exactly is Kirschwasser? Is is a form of Kirsch liqueur?

Cathy said...

Hi Mari! Kirschwasser is a cherry brandy. It must be used in desserts quite often, because my small bottle is almost empty and I have never tried drinking it! I think I must like the mystery of a meringue type cookie as well - that may explain my fascination with macarons, or maybe it's my inability to buy them around here... ;)

swissmiss said...

I am swiss, and I am finding this discussion interesting! I think some of the comments about the cookies being overly sweet may be due to the kind of Kirschwasser being used. There are two types of Kirschwasser-the one you want for this recipe is actually a 90 proof brandy, NOT the liqueur. Sadly, the liqueur is what you most often find in liquor stores. It is generally rather sweet and strongly cherry flavored. The brand is completely different. You may need to hunt for the brandy. A good brand is Kammer--you can order it on the internet if you can't find it locally.

Cathy said...

Hi swissmiss! What I used was 90 proof cherry brandy, but probably not a very good brand. I'll definitely keep an eye out for Kammer kirschwasser when the time comes to get more (mine is almost gone). Unfortunately, since I live in Maryland I can't order liquor or wine via the internet :(