Basler Leckerli is a traditional gingerbread delicacy from the Swiss town of Basel. They are made with delicate ingredients such as honey, almonds, and candied citrus fruit. Their flavor is refined with Christmassy spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Making them at home is so so worth it.
What are Basler Leckerli?
Baseler Leckerli, are fruity Swiss gingerbreads, that are made with honey, nuts, cinnamon, Kirschwasser candied lemon, and orange peel. They are eaten in the Swiss Canton of Basel all year round and are known as their regional delicacy. In Germany, we enjoy it as a Christmas cookie.
The cookie is named after the town of Basel, where it was invented. Basel is located on the Rhine, in a corner where three countries meet: Germany, Switzerland, and France.
The word "Leckerli" is derived from the Swiss word "Läggerli"- which comes from the verb "lägge" to lick (similar to lecken in High German). It describes sweets and confectionary. So you can translate "Basler Leckerli" as sweets from Basel.
You will find different spellings of the name "Leckerli" which is what is best known in Germany. In Basel itself, it is often referred to as "Läckerli"
Lebkuchen has been eaten in Basel since the 14th century. It is assumed that the traditional Lebkuchen turned into Leckerli at the beginning of the 17th century. The earliest recipe for "Läckerlein" was found in 1621 in Bern by a doctor called Abraham Schneuwly. It was documented as a "specialty from Basel" first in 1709. The production of Läckerli was not only expensive (those spices were a precious commodity, but also very time-intensive. The use of Kirschwasser as an ingredient to make the honey bars "airy", might be because Basel is surrounded by some famous cherry plantations.
How to make
- almonds - use almonds with their skin on for the best taste
- candied fruit: candied lemon peel & candied orange peel - these give the cookies their fruity flavor but also add a chewy texture to the cookies that are contrasted nicely with almonds.
- honey & sugar
- lebkuchen spice - you can use shop-bought gingerbread spice, but I recommend this homemade spice blend for the best results.
- ground cinnamon
- kirschwasser - these make the cookies airy. Can be replaced by any other cherry or fruit liqueur
- baking powder
- Place the almonds, lemon, and orange peel in a fruit processor and pulse until they are roughly chopped. The Läckerli should have some bite to them, so do not chop them too finely.
- Now pour the honey, sugar, lebkuchen spice, and ground cinnamon into a saucepan and mix. Heat the mixture on low heat until the sugar has melted and blended into the honey.
- Pour in the kirschwasser and stir again.
- Remove the pot from the stove and gradually stir in the chopped almond and citrus peel mixture. Transfer the mixture to a larger bowl.
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/392°F top to-bottom heat.
- Add the flour and baking powder to the honey mixture. Using a stand or hand mixer knead to a smooth dough. (You can also knead by hand, but the dough may be quite hot)
- Because the dough is very sticky, it is best to roll it out between two sheets of baking parchment. Alternatively, use a non-stick silicone baking mat and cover your rolling pin in some cling film.
- Roll it out to a rectangular shape. The thickness of the dough can be between 0.5 cm to
- 1 cm. Alternatively, you can roll it out in a rectangular baking tray
- Bake your dough rectangle for about 15-20 minutes.
- To make the sugar glaze, bring the water and sugar to a boil and cook for a minute until the sugar has dissolved. Now brush it while on to the still hot cake slab. The cake will absorb the sugar and when it cools will leave the uneven sugar pattern that Leckerli is so famous for.
- Once cooled, slice into irregular shapes, rectangles, or squares and store in a cookie tin .
These swiss honey cookies last up to four weeks when stored in a cool dry place. A cookie tin is an ideal place.
Basler Leckerli (Swiss Honey Cookies=
- 100 g almonds whole almonds with their skin on ¾ cup, 3.5 oz
- 50 g candied lemon peel 1.7 oz
- 50 g candied orange peel 1.7 oz
- 250 g honey ¾ cup, 9 oz
- 100 g sugar ½ cup, 3.5 oz
- 2 teaspoon lebkuchen spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 50 g kirschwasser ¼ cup, 1.7 oz
- 300 g flour 1 1/14 cup, 10 ooz
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
For the sugar glaze
- 5 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 4 tablespoon water
- If you have almonds with skins on, you can bring a pot of water to boil and place the almonds in and leave it for 2 minutes. The skins should just fall off.100 g almonds
- Place the almonds, lemon and orange peel in a fruit processor and pulse until they are roughtly chopped.50 g candied lemon peel, 50 g candied orange peel
- Now pour the honey, sugar, lebkuchen spice and ground cinnamon into a saucepan and mix. Heat the mixture on low heat until the sugar has melted and blended into the honey.250 g honey, 100 g sugar, 2 teaspoon lebkuchen spice, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Remove the pot from the stove and gradually stir in the kirschwasser, chopped almond and citrus peel mixture. Transfer the mixture into a larger bowl.50 g kirschwasser
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 392°F top-to-bottom heat.
- Add the flour and baking powder to the honey mixture. Using a stand or hand mixer knead to a smooth dough. (You can also knead by hand, but the dough may still be quite hot)300 g flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Roll it out to a rectangular shape. The thickness of the dough can be between 0.5 cm and 1 cm. Alternatively, you can roll it out in a rectangular baking tray
- Bake your dough rectangle for about 15-20 minutes.
To make the glaze
- To make the sugar glaze, combine the sugar and water in a pot. Bring to a boil for a minute until the sugar dissolved. With a brush, thickly spread it over the hot sheet cake. Once the sugar dries, the Leckerlie will get its famous uneven sugar glaze.5 tablespoon powdered sugar, 4 tablespoon water
- Once the dough has cooled and the glaze has dried you can cut them in any shape you like. Rectangular, square, and irregular forms are traditional.