Homemade Biscômes and Noisette Stars

Christmas baking continues… One recipe to share (Biscômes), and one I’m still working on (Etoiles á la cannelle).

Swiss Gingerbread

Since I wrote about Swiss gingerbread or “biscômes” last week, I’ve cleaned up the recipe so it’s ready to share. My third batch more closely resembles the store-bought gingerbread we’ve seen around town—a little thinner, a little browner. I just ate one for breakfast! Biscômes date back to the 16th century in Switzerland, and I’m loving the smell of homemade gingerbread in my kitchen at Christmastime.

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Pains d’épice biscômes

Adapted from the recipe in Croqu’menus (2005).
(Dairy/egg/nut-free)

425 grams all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons “pain d’épice” spice mix (i.e., gingerbread spice mix with cinnamon, coriander, anise, cloves and mace; if you can’t find a pre-mixed version like this, here’s a do-it-yourself recipe).
3 teaspoons baking powder
100 grams dairy-free margarine
125 grams honey
3 tablespoons sugar
200 ml rice milk

Glaze:
100 ml warm water
50 grams powdered sugar

Icing:
2-3 teaspoons rice milk
75 grams powdered sugar

1. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, spices, baking powder and salt until well-blended. In a separate bowl, beat together the margarine, sugar and honey.

2. Stir together the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in 2-3 batches, alternating with the rice milk, just until blended; do not overbeat. Place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

3. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/3 inches (8-9 mm) thick; you may need some flour on the rolling pin too. Cut out desired shapes, such as rectangles, hearts or gingerbread men. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes at 200°C/400°F until browned, but not burned.

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4. Place on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, whisk together the glaze mixture and brush over the biscômes. Let them set for another hour or two at room temperature until the glaze has soaked in and dried.

5. Whisk together the icing ingredients until smooth. Use a pastry bag (or a plastic bag with a small corner cut off) to decorate the biscômes.

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Etoiles á la Cannelle

I see “Etoiles á la cannelle” (cinnamon stars) everywhere this time of year. This popular Swiss cookie usually contains almonds, one of my son’s allergens we’re currently avoiding. I noticed these cookies last year, and decided to finally tackle them in my home kitchen over the weekend.

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In my copy of Croqu’menus, the recipe for “Etoiles á la cannelle” says you can use almonds or “noisettes” (hazelnuts). Last year at this time, we were avoiding hazelnuts for my son. This year, I’m free to use them in holiday recipes, and it’s opened up some new options, like these little cinnamon cookies.

From what I’ve seen, recipes for “Etoiles á la cannelle” typically call for eggs in both the cookie and the glaze. I made a few modifications, and my 2-year old loves my homemade version, but my recipe still needs perfecting (see the photo below for proof). My appreciation for the professionals who do this kind of baking grows with each failed attempt! Maybe next year…

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I’ll be trying out some other Swiss Christmas cookies, at least one of which I hope to share later this week! What allergy-friendly treats are you making for the holiday season?

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