Kambly: then and now
The first time I visited the Kambly cookie factory was in 2010, just a few months after I’d moved to Switzerland. I had been subletting a spartan room in a guy’s apartment in Ostring in Bern, trying to find a job, and I was feeling lonely.
I was beyond thrilled when my friend Erin said she would be in Europe and was willing to sleep on my floor for a couple of days. Our sightseeing was classic CH—cheese, chocolate, chestnuts—but soon we were ready for more.
“This one offers a free cookies,” I read from an SBB day trip brochure.
We bought our tickets and boarded the train.
“Where are we going again?” asked Erin.
“Trub-something?” neither of us could pronounce it.
But we were excited (as Erin documented below).
We made our way into Kambly, and were soon overwhelmed and overjoyed with the variety of cookies to taste.
It was a great day out.
I never imagined that I would end up moving to that very town (whose name I still can’t quite properly pronounce), a stone’s throw from Kambly’s cookie wonderland (but it sure beats that Ostring apartment).
Wait, all the cookies?
Living nearby, we often go to the factory, but I never tire of the look on friends’ faces when they enter.
“Wait, you can try all the cookies?”
I nod, then give my spiel: “there’s a row of savoury things on the left there if you need a break from the sweet. Don’t waste precious cookie space on the healthy ones, or the ones without chocolate. If you linger around the display counter, they usually offer you a truffle or amaretti, and if you order a coffee from the café it comes with a huge shard of chocolate, so bear that in mind when choosing what to gobble.”
The Bretzeli, is Kambly’s signature cookie, (and the first one it produced—you can watch a presentation on its history at the factory), made from fresh Emmental butter and flour. Their suppliers are still local, and they continue to honour a three generation’s old handshake agreement with the local mill.
Traditionally Bretzeli was baked on hot iron presses, and sometimes the factory has its chefs demonstrate the tradition, over an open fire, like at last year’s Bretzeli Fest (pictures below).
Although I never waste my cookie quota munching Bretzeli at the factory, I often take a bag to go.
Bretzeli are great perched atop a bowl of ice cream, and perfect as a base for other desserts, like this cheesecake.
200 g Bretzeli
70 g butter, melted
400 g cream cheese, room temperature
100 g sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 tbsp vanilla extract or paste
250 ml whipping cream
Line the bottom of a 24 cm / 9 inch round springform pan with parchment paper.
Using your hands or a food processor, break the cookies into fine crumbs.
Add the melted butter and stir until it comes together. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan.
In a separate large bowl, whip the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla.
In another bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks, then fold this gently into the cream cheese.
Spread the cream mixture over the cookie base, then cover with plastic wrap (press this directly onto the surface) and let cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
Before serving you can smooth out the top of the cake. Dip an offset spatula in hot water, then swipe across the cake's surface.
Decorate with Bretzeli.
I have tried to use Frischkäse, the Swiss equivalent of cream cheese, but find that Philadelphia always works best.
If desired, you could flavour the cream cheese mixture with a shot of booze.