All in Swiss Christmas

Spitzbuben

Spitzbuben

The jewel of the Swiss Christmas cookie tray is surely the Spitzbuben, with its elegant dusting of powdered sugar and bright ruby centre. According to the Kulinarisches Erbe, Spitzbuben are a relatively modern cookie in Switzerland, and were likely developed and named in the 20th century. The term Spitzbub refers to a mischievous boy, and the cookies may be so named because jammy faces were originally cut into the dough.  

Brunsli Bears

Brunsli Bears

There is no one standard Brunsli recipe. Historically, the most luxurious and expensive part of the cookie was the ground nuts. It was only during lean times that the nuts were replaced with flour. There is debate over which nuts to use, whether almonds, hazelnuts, or even walnuts. Some recipes call for grated or melted chocolate, while others depend on cocoa (and some use both). Finally, some recipes suggest the cookies are baked low in the oven and some forego baking completely and just leave them out to dry. 

Glazed Chestnuts

Glazed Chestnuts

Starting from the first crisp autumn days, the city of Bern is filled with the wafting aroma of chestnut vendors selling bags of the roasted nuts. For farmers, chestnut season is typically from October to December, but the street vendors stretch this time out as long as possible, selling them well into the new year (I don't mind).

Rotkohl

Rotkohl

Hildegard von Bingen wrote that red cabbage generates maladies in humans and injures weak intestines. However, in the Middle Ages, the point of contention seemed to be the colour of the plant, rather than its distressing intestinal side effects. The cabbage was known as red, Rotkohl, in certain parts of the German speaking realm, and blue, Blaukohl, in others. At the time, the German language lacked the term for purplelila, and things that today seem very obviously purple, like this cabbage, were categorized as either red or blue.