December 22, 2008

Basler Brunsli

If there is one thing I love it is a recipe that is naturally gluten-free.  The next best thing?  One that is so easy to convert and make work that even the most novice of us can do it.  These Basler Brunsli would fall into the second category.  In case you are wondering what in Heaven's name is or are Basler Brunsli, allow me to enlighten you.  They are, simply put, a chocolate almond cookie.  But they are better than just something simple, they are delicious.  I find that the thick, rustic texture of them instantly makes me think of my Oma, and her wonderful meals she used to make for us.  You know, those ones that seem too simple and plain to be good, but really are the ones you remember forever.  While Oma never made us any Basler Brunsli, at least not that I can remember, I can easily picture her plunking a plate in front of us and telling us to eat.

I have my new favorite treat, and it is quickly becoming my perfect Christmas cookie.  At least until I manage to find myself a Lebkucken recipe that I can easily convert and will taste exactly like the ones I adore (which may well never happen).  These little gems are chewy and thick with a heavy bite.  I find that your tooth sinks in, and then for a moment it almost feels as though you'll get stuck, reminiscent of toffee!  Right after it gives the rest of the way and you have this wonderful pure chocolate taste.  

I found the recipe I worked from at Nicky's site delicious:days and all I have to say is even though I have never met her, nor her friend (Maike), and most particularly not Maike's Oma, I love them all. [see here for the post]  I have not placed a link back to her friend's post as it is in German and I do not know how many of you read German, though I'm sure it could be great fun to try for those of you unfamiliar with the language :)  Due to the fact that I obtained the recipe in weights, and my tendency to cook/bake in both North American and European measurements, I never converted it to cups.  Hopefully one day I will, and if not, perhaps someone else will and would be so kind as to share it with us all!

Unlike the Nicky's and Maike's recipes I did not use Kirsch.  I have only started building up a mini bar (read I think I have two or three items), and therefore do not have any.  To add to the richness of the chocolate I added some vanilla, which highlighted and warmed the chocolate tones - trust me, I made it both with and without, with is better!  This way, these cookies are also suitable for those of you who do not consume alcohol, gluten, or grains of any form.  Thus they make a great addition to your cookie tray for special diets.  I hope they are as well received by you and yours as they were by me and my co-workers!

Basler Brunsli

150 g dark chocolate
300 g almond meal
75 g unsweetened cocoa powder
200 g sugar
pinch of salt
50 g sorghum flour, extra for dusting
4 egg whites
1 Tbsp vanilla

Slowly melt chocolate in a double boiler, taking care not to burn.  When melted remove from heat, and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl combine almond meal, cocoa powder, cocoa powder, sugar and sorghum flour.  

Whisk/beat egg whites until stiff.  Fold egg whites, melted chocolate and vanilla into almond mixture.  The dough is stiff, it might take a little bit of elbow grease.

Divide into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for one or more hours in fridge.  If making dough in advance, you can freeze, and remove to fridge the day before you wish to bake them.

Preheat the oven to 425 F, roll dough out, sprinkling generously and often with sorghum, until between 0.5 and 1 cm thick.  I like mine a little thicker and therefore chewier.  Cut out with a rounded cookie cutter, or in pieces with a knife.  They are a slightly more rustic cookie, so they don't have to look perfect.

Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake 5-7 minutes, until crisp on the outside, and chewy in the middle.  Of course if you are aiming for a crisper cookie, cook longer if needed.

Cool and store in an air tight container.  Watch them disappear.

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