A very typical Christmas cookie in Switzerland is the “Milanais,” in French, or “Mailänderli,” in German. At Coop yesterday, I found at least three different kinds of Milanais among all the baked goodies for Christmas. Dating back to the 18th century, these cookies come in a variety of small shapes. Apparently they did not come from Milan, despite what the name suggests.
I tried making Milanais sans milk and eggs in my home kitchen yesterday. These lemon-flavored cookies get their golden top from an egg yolk and sugar mixture brushed on top before baking. Even though my son can safely eat baked egg, I was concerned that 10-15 minutes of baking wouldn’t change the egg proteins enough to prevent an allergic reaction. My son probably would’ve been fine, but he’s had a few reactions with my baked egg experiments before, so I decided to make some changes.
Milanais recipes commonly call for equal amounts of butter and sugar, which I’ve maintained in my version below—except with dairy-free margarine. Also, I’ve replaced the egg in the dough with a flax meal mixture. Finally, instead of the egg yolk wash, I used a tart lemon icing sprinkled with some chopped dried cranberries, inspired by Swiss Milk’s recipe.
Petits Biscuits de Milan
125 grams dairy-free margarine, softened
1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons of lemon zest
250 grams all-purpose flour
200 grams powdered sugar
5-6 teaspoons of lemon juice
Dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1. Beat together the wet ingredients in a large bowl: margarine, flax meal mixture, vanilla sugar, salt and lemon zest. Then, mix in the flour until dough forms.
2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a flour-dusted rolling pin to about 1/4 inch (6mm) thick. Cut out into desired shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F for about 10-15 minutes.
3. Place cookies on a wire rack to cool. Whisk together the icing ingredients and spread on the cooled cookies. Sprinkle dried cranberries, roughly chopped, on top of the icing.
We’ll be visiting our neighborhood Marchés de Noël this weekend and searching for new Swiss street foods. Bon week-end!