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Get out the cookie cutters! Making Mailaenderli -- Switzerland's most popular Christmas cookie, a kind of "Swiss shortbread" -- is easy and fun.

Mailänderli milanais in French or, literally, “little milano” in English – is the most popular Swiss Christmas cookie. It’s an egg-enriched shortbread with a hint of lemon. Fun (get out the cookie cutters!), easy to make, and good keepers, they’re among the first Christmas cookies I make.

Cutting out Mailaenderli

I started planning my Christmas baking mid-November after realizing that with my ambitious plan of making more than 12 kinds of cookies, I’d need to be pretty organized! Luckily last year I created a spreadsheet with all the cookie ingredients, so preparing the shopping list was a snap.

I bought everything last Saturday and dedicated Sunday to baking Mailänderli and honey gingerbread. I made some Nuts & Bolts too! Meanwhile David made Stollen (a buttery yeast bread with candied fruit, almonds, raisins and currants) and prepped the ingredients for Basler Leckerli (cookie with spices, candied peel and almonds, a specialty from the city of Basel).

The house was warm and the aromas delicious. I like this time of year! Made with love, I look forward to sharing the cookies with family and friends.

Mailaenderli, almost ready to bake

Mailänderli, almost ready to bake. Just missing the egg wash.

Recipe: Mailänderli (Swiss Shortbread)

Quantities in weight – scale required!

250 g butter
250 g sugar
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk (for egg wash, keep separate!)
1 lemon, zest only
500 g flour

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare baking sheets (line with parchment paper).

Using a standing or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure everything is well combined. Add the 3 eggs, incorporate on low speed, then beat on higher speed until mixture is light and homogeneous. Mix in lemon zest, and finally the flour.

Gather the dough together. Flatten into a disk and place in fridge for two hours.

Dust counter with flour. Roll out dough to 8 mm thickness. (Yes, the Swiss are very exact! I think the main thing is not to make them too thin.) Cut out cookies using cookie cutters. Place on baking sheet.

In a bowl, prepare the egg wash by lightly beating the egg yolk and diluting with a bit of water or milk. Brush cookies with egg wash. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden.

Cool. Store in an airtight container. Makes lots of cookies!

Mailaenderli in all shapes

Mailänderli in all shapes.

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