Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Swiss Biberli Cookies

My husband grew up in Switzerland, land of mountains, Alpenhorns, and village mushroom experts. One Christmas early in our marriage, he mentioned how much he missed the biberli cookies he used to enjoy at the holidays. Without realizing exactly what I was in for, I excitedly offered to bake some for him.

Ten years and dozens and dozens of okay-but-not-quite-right cookies later, the food critic approved the recipe and now our kids get to enjoy Swiss biberli cookies at the holidays, too. And I'm even allowed to share them with the neighbors! Here's the recipe. (They're a little fussy to make, but so worth it. I usually double this recipe.)

Swiss Biberli Cookies
Cookie Filling:
1 7-oz tube almond paste or marzipan
2 Tbsp apricot jam
1 Tbsp honey
1/8 tsp lemon oil in 1 tsp water (or 1 tsp lemon juice and rind of 1/2 lemon)

Mix all ingredients and chill in refrigerator or freezer.

Cookie dough:
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 cup white wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves

In large bowl, cream the butter and add sugar, egg and molasses. In separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add baking soda to boiling water, then alternate the addition of dry ingredients and water to the butter mixture until dough is smooth. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.

Drop dough by teaspoon onto cookie sheet and spread into 2 inch circles, leaving 1-2 inches between cookies. Add flattened spoonful of filling to top of dough circles, then cover with second spoonful of cookie dough, spreading dough around the edges to cover the filling completely. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies. Once cooled, serve with milk...or dip the cookies in chocolate...or add a sugar glaze...or drizzle melted chocolate over the tops (as in the photo above). Yum! Happy Holidays!


  1. Almost four years later... I tried searching Biberli again. Yours is the only recipe that is not exactly the same as all the others! The one I have is the same as all of those, and the dough is ridiculously hard to work with. I'm going to try yours, hoping that the addition of butter will make it a little easier. Have you made any adjustments? Thank you.

  2. Ooh, I'm excited that you found it!

    I checked and this is exactly the same recipe I've used every year. This dough is sticky, I'll admit. I found that if I chilled everything, the filling as well as the dough, I can just about work with it. It's frustrating, for sure. I found that I could form the chilled filling into little flat, round "patties" and just set them down on the first layer of dough. And with the top layer, I almost always add too much dough just because it's hard to work with, but if you can smooth it a bit with a spoon (or with lightly greased fingers) it's easier.

    I will say that my husband and his siblings all gave the flavor a thumbs-up, so I hope you'll find that they're worth it in the end! Please let me know how you find them! And thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. About the sticky dough–work with it while it's still cold(I left it in overnight), and put butter on your hands:) It helps a LOT. I also made a glaze, although it doesn't change much... you add it on when you're done with everything, just before baking the batch. Dissolve 3 tablespoons sugar with 1 tablespoon water– it's pretty much a 2/3 sugar, and 1/3 water mixture. But these taste authentic. I made them for my dad's birthday(he's swiss), and he absolutely adored them. THANKS!

  4. Thank you so much for the follow up, and for the info about the glaze. That is definitely something I had wondered about. When my in-laws send biberlis from Switzerland, many of them do have that thin, sugary coating. I'll have to try that!

    So glad that your dad enjoyed them, and thanks again for coming back to comment!



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