All in Swiss Christmas

Walliser Cholera

Walliser Cholera

There is a persistent rumour that the dish is indeed named for the disease Cholera, after a particularly bad outbreak in the 1830. People in the Wallis stayed home to avoid contamination and were forced to use things they already had in their larder and gardens to feed their families.

More likely, however, is that it's named after the glowing coal in the fireplace where the pan would have sat to bake.

Boozy Balls

Boozy Balls

These boozy balls are ones you'll actually want to eat.

Often rum balls are made with leftovers—stale cake and cookies—but these are purpose built, using ground nuts as the base. And why ever limit yourself to just rum?

You can make them gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, even booze-free—the variety is endless.

Vin Blanc Chaud

Vin Blanc Chaud

In mid December, I took in the Strasbourg Christmas market with my buddies Lauren and Emily. The highlight was lovely steaming cups of warm, spiced white wine that went right to our heads. 

A couple of sips and our eyes got glassy, our speech emotional, and the cobblestones became difficult to negotiate.

It was some good mulled wine. 

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. 

Mailänderli

Mailänderli

There is nothing that tastes more like Christmas to me than my mum's buttery, lemony Mailänderlis. She would carefully stack the little yellow Christmas trees, bells, hearts, and starsthe best because they were the biggest—between wax paper, in golden tins. Hers were always the best, that perfect mix of lemon and butter, and really crisp and golden. Perfect flat edges. Try as I might I never get mine quite as good. 

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).