In December, when days are cold and there’s little sunlight, Swiss families often gather together to bake cookies. It’s an important feature of Advent, the run-up to Christmas, with some families making over a dozen different varieties.
In Switzerland, there isn’t a traditional Christmas meal, like turkey or goose with trimmings, (except perhaps a fondue thrown in sometime between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day), so I think it’s the cookies that really provide the taste of a Swiss Christmas. And making those cookies can be quite a process.
The most beloved cookie cookbooks are dusted off, a schedule is made, family recipes are double-checked and maybe a new cookie is added to the rotation. Butter inevitably goes on sale in the big supermarkets, as do ground nuts and parchment paper, which means perusing flyers and writing detailed shopping lists. Local mills even offer 5 kg bags of Guetzlimehl, flour that’s milled fine and perfect for cookie making.
Every family has their own way of making the cookies, with some favouring long drying times, and others adding kirsch at every chance. In our family, the dough was always rolled quite thick, and the cookies were tall and robust. Some prefer a store-bought dough, while others make a dozen or more different varieties from scratch.
Zimtpitten, a popular bake during the advent season, with a nutty base, fluffy meringue topping, and a crunch of roasted almonds. There is no fuss with cutting out the cookies either, instead, it is baked as a whole and later sliced into elegant diamonds.