Warmth Amidst Iced Peaks

One of the best parts of a ski trip, don’t you think, is snuggling before a glowing fire as the snow and ice swirl among the mountains outside? Such is a pleasure unique to winter, and which Switzerland supplies in magical abundance.

A perfect expression of this alpine coziness is a cookie bar enjoyed especially around the winter holidays. As the cookie was perfected in bakeries in the city of Basel, the treat came to be known as Basler Leckerli. Eventually, Food & Wine picked up on the idea in its December 2015 issue, and here it’s presented for your approval.

The story has another delightful twist, though. Basler Leckerli would’ve remained stranded in the snows, were it not for a faithful reader, Eliza, who suggested a rescue mission. Eliza’s blog glistens with thoughtful ponderings and is warmed with uplifting stories, funny memes and the like. Gather round.

Eliza mentions Basler Leckerli as being one her favorites, and it’s easy to see why. Though celebrated amidst the ice-bound holidays at year’s-end, the cookie glows with comforts gathered in the exuberant months. Honey flows generously, recalling sunny meadows abuzz with vibrant wildflowers. Warm spices, including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, elevate the revelrie.

Even the fruit speaks of a dappled past, as citron and cured Sicilian orange peel, a pair often reserved for candy makers, put one in mind of balmy groves overlooking the Mediterranean. Both the orange peel and the citron (a melon, actually) are preserved at peak, then are enjoyed year-round. As this is the first time using either, both were special-ordered:

Bright, appealing flavors baked into a cookie gathering all these great memories. A happy light that snuggles the soul and pushes the cold beyond the dancing shadows. A lightly crispy exterior quickly yields a chewy interior with flecks of crunchy almonds throughout. Immediately after the Basler Leckerli are pulled, still hot from the oven, they’re brushed (iced?) with a thin sugar glaze, preserving all these wonders beneath a light snow, melting into the treat beneath.

What better way to celebrate coziness than to do so in the Swiss fashion, with encouraging flames cheering the conversations fireside? A steaming mug of chocolate (or a glass of milk – the only civilized companion for sweets) at hand, and a plateful of Basler Leckerli on the mantle or on the coffee table. Wow, that falling snow outside sure looks beautiful from in here.

Thanks for the perfect winter moment, Eliza!


Basler Leckerli

(Swiss Spiced Cookie Bars)

  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1-and-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped candied orange peel (*1)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied citron peel (*1)
  • 1 tablespoon finely-grated orange zest
  • 1-and-1/2 teaspoons finely-grated lemon zest
  • 1-and-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

In a small saucepan, combine the honey with the granulated sugar and salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the honey and sugar are melted and are beginning to simmer, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl and let cool slightly, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a small bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder.  Using a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon, stir the egg into the honey mixture.  Stir in the almonds, candied orange and citron peels, orange and lemon zests, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, then stir in the sifted flour. 

Scrape the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and, with floured hands, press into a 12-by-9-inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until golden and puffy.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine the confectioners’ sugar with 2 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Boil the Syrup until it begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Keep warm.

As soon as the leckerli is done, brush the surface with the hot glaze. While it’s still hot, carefully slide the parchment onto a work surface. Using a sharp knife, trim the edges of the rectangle and cut the leckerli into 2-by-1-inch bars. Let cool before serving.


1 – Unless a well-stocked candy supply store is the neighborhood, you likely will have to mail-order the candied orange and citron peels. No worries – the recipe still will be waiting in a week or so when your package arrives.

Another possibility is to skip the candied peels entirely. Though the cookie still will form up and will entice without the special ingredients, it definitely will miss a beat. You could compensate by adding slightly more citrus zest than is indicated above. Closer, but still…


10 thoughts on “Warmth Amidst Iced Peaks

    1. Your kind words are appreciated greatly, Crystal!

      An homage to Eliza, too, as she’s the one who sent everything on its way. Before we discussed favorite year-end sweets, I didn’t know the cookie existed. Now, everyone on WP and IG does. (At least those do who check out either blog.)


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