This year I did not prepare Christmas cookies, but know I really wished to prepare something special, something from my town (Basel, Switzerland) where it is popular in bakeries and even grocery stores.
I’ve already prepared Leckerli, or better in Swiss German “Läckerli” or “Läggerli”, several times, but it was long time ago as I prepared them. Once I also used this recipe to build a cute gingerbread house.
This year I’ve revised my old recipe and I’ve decided to propose these cookies into small bites for longer pleasure. I love to take one, let turn soft in the mouth and then melt!
These cookies are dense, quite dry and wonderfully flavored with honey (I used the honey of our bees!), spices, citrus and almonds. They are something like “hard gingerbread” combined with candied fruits; no candied ginger is included in this traditional recipe. You are free to add some if you wish!
Basler Läckerli date back to the 15th century as they were created at the time of the Basel Council (1431 to 1449) to sustain the assembled church dignitaries. The word “Läkerli” comes from “lecker” ant it meas “delicious” in German and “-li” is a diminutive suffix in the Swiss-German language.
Homemade Basler Leckerli - Swiss Gingerbread from Basel
In a heavy pot, bring honey with sugar to boil. Remove from the heat.
Add all the other ingredients except flour and baking powder. Mix well.
Add half of the flour and stir to combine the hand mixer provided with dough hooks. Now add the rest of the flour and the baking powder, work with the hooks until well combined and the dough does not stick to the finger (be careful, it is hot). If necessary, add more flour.
Turn the dough on a well-floured working surface and knead well.
Sprinkle the dough with flour (in this way the dough will not stick on the rolling pin) and roll it out the dough out on parchment foil placed directly in the baking try. It should be about 6 mm thick. As the dough is very hard, it is easier if somebody helps you to hold the tray and the parchment foil.
Let sit for at least one hour or best overnight.
Bake for 15-18 minutes at 220°C in a preheated oven (or 200°C if using a convection oven).
In the meanwhile, prepare the glaze: heat sugar with water until the sugar is melt, let simmer until the syrup turns thick and you see that at the borders of the pot the first crystals begins to form (this takes about five minutes).
Remove from the oven and immediately cut the dough (I used the pizza cutter) rectangular pieces of about 3,5X5 cm (for the standard size) or, as in my case if you prefer into 1,5X1,5cm bites.
Brush the still warm Läckerli with the hot glaze. At this point, the syrup should built crystals and a wonderful white shining cover will glaze the Läckerli.
As soon as the glaze is turning white, separate the Läckerli again, let cool down and dry out completely.
Store in airtight container up to 6 month.
Glaze (Modern variation): this replace the step “7” above
250 g powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons “Kirsch”
In while the cookies are in the oven, combine powdered sugar with water and Kirsch. If necessary, add one more tablespoon Kirsch (or water). Stir until well-combined and very thick.
Each year we grow some pumpkin on or compost and just before the winter comes we collect them and we keep the in the cold cellar for the winter.
A few days ago, we needed some salad or veggies to complete or dinner but one of my guest had a dental surgery and only soft ingredients could be considered. At once, I remembered my pumpkin and I imagined that this would be perfect for this purpose.
I’ve also thought a lot about the way to serve this and how I can transform this in a very special dish.
This had be great in taste and appealing for the eye!
From another recipe (that at that moment I could not find again) I remembered a wonderful dressing which I loved so much and which could be used for this recipe.
The topping is crunchy, and except of the guest who had some dental problems, the caramelized nuts would add taste and texture to the melt in the mouth pumping slices.
For the arrangement I found some mini bowls (in effect candle holders! ) and I began to arrange the slices in the small dishes like flowers. I’ve placed the remaining slices in a separate bowl; after pouring the dressing over them I waited for my guests!
We didn’t expect so much success with this, the remaining had gone quickly and probably I’ve could have made the double quantity!
At the end, the remaining sauce at the bottom of the dish had been enjoyed with some homemade rustic bread.
I will make this again for sure many times!
Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Lime and Herbs Dressing
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or winter savoury (winter savoury is my choice as I have this in the garden), finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon honey
Salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper to taste
50 g sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
50 g walnuts or pecan,
1 pinch chili powder
1 big pinch salt
Additional olive oil, to taste
Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut into ½ cm slices.
Place the slices in a big bowl and toss with olive oil.
Arrange the slices in a baking tray overlapping them slightly.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C until the pumpkin is soft and the borders begins to turn brown. This takes about 20-30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
In the meanwhile combine all the ingredients for the dressing
Heat slowly the sugar with lime juice in small non-sticky skillet until sugar melts and it begins to take color. Add nuts, chili powder and salt stirring to coat them well. Let roast for 1 minute. Pour the mixture on a baking sheet and let cool down completely. After this time, chop to 1/2 cm pieces.
Pour the dressing over the pumpkin or place the pumpkin into single portions dishes and pour the dressing over them. Let marinate at least 30 minutes.
Just before serving, drizzle some more olive oil and sprinkle with the caramelized nuts. Serve with a slice of rustic bread
A few years ago on Crete a Greek friend offered us this wonderful cake and she gently shared her recipe. I still had the notes and finally now I decided to write this in my blog. Her recipe is a sugar-reduced one, as most of the recipes requires double quantity of syrup, I also noticed that she reduced the fat of the cream adding beaten egg white. If you don’t feel safe eating raw eggs please skip it or double the cream quantity!
Perhaps you noticed that the name “Ekmek Kataifi” doesn’t sound Greek: historical this recipe was a bread pudding, created during the Ottoman empire and served during the Ramadan time combined with kaimak (a creamy cheese similar to mascarpone).
Note: sometimes you in Turkish shops you can buy already roasted kataifi in the shape of a round cake; in this cake skip the first two steps.
Ekmek Kataifi – Greek Pastry Topped with Custard and Whipped Cream
1 egg white, from very fresh egg (skip and double the quantity of heavy cream if preferred)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
roasted slivered almonds or pistachios, for serving
8 candied cherries (optional)
Preheat the oven to 160 °C.
To begin making the base. Make the Kataifi pastry as fluffy as possible; spread it on the Springform (of about 24 cm) and brush with the melted butter. Toast the Kataifi strands until golden brown, this takes about 30-40 minutes.
In the meanwhile, prepare the syrup by boiling the sugar with the water in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes. You can also add some mastic powder. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and spoon the hot syrup over the toasted pastry base.
Combine semolina, cornstarch and half of the sugar in small bowl; whisk in egg yolks and a few tablespoons of cold milk; whisk to remove any lumps. In another pot (or simply in the microwave) heat the milk with the rest of the sugar. Before this comes to boil, remove this from the heat and add it to the egg mixture stirring constantly; Place the saucepan over medium heat and let the cream thicken, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let cool down until lukewarm.
Spread the custard evenly over Kataifi. Let it cool to room temperature, cover with cling film and put in the fridge. Leave best overnight as so that the tastes will bind better.
Make the whipped cream just before serving: in a clean bowl beat egg white into stiff peaks, add sugar and beat again until glossy. In another bowl, preferably chilled, beat chilled cream. Gently fold beaten egg whites into the whipped cream and spread over the cold cream.
Sprinkle with roasted slivered almonds, top with cherry and serve best with a cup of real Greek coffee!
1 tablespoon Cognac, Brandy, Amaretto, Rum or Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon finely grated
50 g cocoa powder
Combine place the cream in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
When the cream is warm add the chocolate and stir the mixture over the heat until just melted and smooth.
Remove the bowl from the heat, place it in a cold-water bath, and whisk in the champagne.
Pour the mixture on a tray prepared with parchment paper, spread to a square of a thickness of about 1 to 1 1/2 cm. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or until set.
Warm a knife in hot water, dry it off. Cut the block to make squares or rectangles of about 1-2 cm. Save the trimmings for yourself!
Place the sifted cocoa powder in a bowl. Carefully toss each cube cocoa powder.
If serving the same day, arrange the truffles on a plate and store in the fridge until serving. Take them out of the fridge a little bit before serving to take the chill off. Truffles can also be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.
This year we had been blessed with a lot fruits from the garden and now the plums (European plums or prunes) are just ripe enough.
I decided to create a side dish, which goes with meat (for example roasted pork, chicken or game), but now I think that this (perhaps with less salt, and adapting the spices to your taste) would be lovely as a dessert with vanilla ice cream, Greek plain yogurt or over your morning muesli (or cereals) . Next time…
For the preparation, I used allspice, finely crushed coriander and pepper, but other combinations would work as well. Alternatives could be cinnamon, cardamom, ground ginger, cloves, grated orange zest, garam masala and so on.