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Basler Brunsli

Remember when I mentioned how I like baking cookies for backstage orchestra concert treats?  Musicians love to chow down on sugar during intermission, so it’s a good way to get rid of share a bunch of cookies.  This past weekend provided this opportunity, which I’m grateful for because it was also when my aunt’s funeral took place.  Baking can be very therapeutic, so I got to working on this batch of cookies when I got home.

The mighty viola section. (Photo from facebook, edited but not taken by me.)

When Victoria posted these brunsli cookies last December, they headed straight to my mental to-bake list.  (’tis the season to make her cookie recipes from that month, apparently.)   Technically they’re a type of Swiss Christmas cookie, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed at any time of the year.  I had kept in mind that they were gluten-free as there are a few musicians in this orchestra with Celiac disease, one happening to be my stand partner for the week.  Before I made these, she even asked if I had known of a cookie that sounded really similar to these, but couldn’t remember the name.

easy as 1, 2, 3

Anyway, these were a hit with everyone who tried them because come on…how can a chocolate and almond-based cookie not be good?  Their soft, intensely chocolaty texture is a bit reminiscent of brownies.  Almost everyone asked what the extra flavor was: ginger!

Basler Brunsli
adapted from District Chocoholic

With an ingredient list this short, you’ll want to use really good chocolate (I used Scharffen-Berger).  As for the spice(s) that you use, that’s really up to you!  I went with ginger, but the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon cloves, and Victoria used 2 teaspoons cinnamon.  I was thisclose to going the chipotle powder route, but that would have been way too typical of me.  Even though cut-out cookies aren’t really my favorite to make (tedious), these were easy.  Just be sure to plan ahead for the 3 hours of drying time.

8 oz. whole blanched almonds
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground ginger
optional: 1/4 teaspoon salt (I forgot this and it was fine, but would’ve been nice)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1. In a food processor, pulse the almonds and sugar until finely ground.  Add the chocolate and pulse again, then add the egg whites and ginger (and salt if using) and pulse until a dough is formed.

2. Cut two cookie sheet-sized pieces of parchment paper.  Lay one on the counter and sprinkle some sugar on it, then place the dough in the center.  Place the other piece of parchment on top.  With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick.  Remove the top piece of parchment and cut out cookies with a cookie cutter.  Place the cookies about 1 inch apart on either another piece of parchment or silicone mat and keep re-rolling the scraps of dough.  Let the cookies dry for 3 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 300F.  Bake the cookies for 12 – 15 minutes or until slightly puffy.  Let cool on racks, then store in an airtight container.

Basler Brunsli

(I didn’t get a finished shot, but they didn’t look much different than this.  Oops.)

Remember that bake sale I talked about last time?  If you don’t have a food processor (or blender) and/or don’t feel like making these but want them in your belly, I believe Victoria will be whipping up a delicious batch of these for it.  Get on it.