Leckerli are strange biscuits from Herbert’s maternal home town of Basel in Switzerland.
To the untrained tongue, they can initially seem to most resemble shoe leather, but with a strangely addictive quality that means you’ll polish off a whole packet before you know it. They are perhaps the cousin on the German Pffernusse or Liebkuchen, but flatter and chewier, with little nubs of hazelnut and candied peel.
In any case, it’s impossible to get them in the UK without paying £25 on Ebay for a paltry bag, so there’s no choice but to bake them. I’d love to say that this is a recipe passed on from H’s family, but they’re not the most avid cooks. I had to cobble it together from various websites. The home-made ones are softer than that shop-bought ones, and much less of an acquired taste.
1. Put 225g honey, 150g caster sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 clove and a pinch nutmeg in a saucepan and heat until melted together. Remove the clove.
2. Mix in 100g chopped mixed peel, 50g chopped hazelnuts, 100g ground almonds and the grated zest of a lemon.
3. Transfer to a mixer unless you have strong Swiss arms. Add 300g plain flour, 1tsp baking powder and a splash of kirsch, and then mix together to form a very stiff dough.
4. Roll this out onto a piece of baking parchment, so that it’s about 1/2 cm thick. Place on a baking sheet, cover and leave to rise overnight.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 220C or until golden brown. Keep a careful eye on them because they can burn quickly.
6. Ice immediately with a thin layer of runny icing sugar (about 75g mixed with 2 tbsp water).
7. Cool. Trim off the edges, and cut into rectangular biscuits about 2 x 4cm in size.
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