Happy new year folks! After a relaxing, but very lazy holiday hiatus, I’m back with a new recipe for your reading pleasure. 🙂
These prettily patterned Swiss treats have been a favorite of mine since I first made them a few years ago after discovering the recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cookies cookbook. Like pizzelle cookies, bratseli are made with a specialty tool similar to a waffle iron, which gives them their distinctive pattern. (In fact, mine is actually technically a pizzelle iron, but if you want to keep it traditional, I’m sure you could find a legit bratseli iron on that magical place we call the internet.)
Martha’s recipe uses lemon and cinnamon to flavor the cookie, and is positively delightful without any alteration. Nevertheless, while I love the original, I wanted to get a bit creative this year when whipping up a batch of these babies to bring home to my family for Christmas. I had a feeling that orange and cardamom would be just the thing, and it turned out, I was right! (Though it certainly didn’t hurt that I also coated the bottom of half of the cookies with dark chocolate…) Though they didn’t go quite as fast as the amaretti cookies I also brought, I’m chalking that up to the fact that the amaretti were smaller and I made more of the bratseli.
So, without further ado, here’s how to make your own bratseli!
- 6 or 7 cups all-purpose flour (Martha’s recipe says you’ll need 7 to 9, but I’ve always found that my dough comes together at the right texture around 6)
- 1 tbsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp coarse salt (you could use regular salt here if that’s what you have on hand, but I think the coarser salt crystals add a nice crunch a slight glimmer to the cookies)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (seriously, it’s so much easier to beat room temperature butter than butter straight out of the fridge–take it out first thing before gathering up the rest of your ingredients to give it some extra time to warm up before you start beating)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar (I like to do 3/4 cup light brown and 3/4 cup white, but feel free to just use one or the other or play around with the proportions depending on your preference)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract (just as a side note, I always use pure vanilla rather than imitation, but no judgment if imitation is your jam)
- 2-3 tbsp juice from freshly squeezed orange
- zest of 1 orange
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- oil or cooking spray (for the iron)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, the cardamom, and the salt.
- In another bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar(s) on medium speed until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add vanilla, orange juice, and zest and mix until combined. Add the eggs and again mix until combined.
- In a third bowl (sorry for all the dishes–I promise the cookies will be worth it!) whisk the heavy cream until slightly thickened, then fold the cream into the butter mixture.
- Add the flour and spice mixture and mix until combined. Add the remaining flour 1 cup at a time, mixing between each addition to incorporate. Ultimately, you want to the dough to be soft enough to roll into balls and only slightly sticky. In other words, you don’t want to add so much flour that it becomes crumbly, but you also don’t want to add so little that half to dough stays on your hands when you try to roll it into a ball.
- Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls (this takes a while, as the recipe generally makes somewhere around 6 dozen cookies). To save some time, you can roll about half the dough into balls, then start cooking the bratseli and roll the rest of the dough in between batches.
- To cook the bratseli, coat your iron with a thin layer of oil or cooking spray and plug it in to heat. Once the iron is hot (mine has an indicator light to tell you when it’s ready), place a ball of dough in each little grid, press the handle down tightly, and let cook until golden. My iron (which is from Cuisinart) has setting from 1-5 for how hot to cook, as well as an indicator light that goes off when the cookie is ready. I generally set my iron between the 3 and 4 heat settings, maybe slightly closer to the three, but leave the cookies in a few seconds after the green light comes on before taking them out.
- Depending on how big you’ve rolled your dough balls, you may end up with some overhang on the edges that you’ll want to trim as soon as the cookie comes out of the iron before it cools. It’s easy enough to just break off the excess with your fingers, but if you prefer yours unscalded, you can use a knife or kitchen scissors.
- Let the cookies cool on wire racks. Because this recipe makes so many cookies, you’ll either need a bunch of cooling racks or you can do what I do, which is start stacking those cookies that have already mostly cooled on top of one another as the rack fills up and I need to make room for new cookies.
And voila! You’ve got yourself some tasty, fancy-looking cookies to impress friends and family at your next gathering. One of the best things about these cookies is that they store really well in an airtight container at room temperature. (Martha’s recipe says up to 1 week, but frankly, I’ve kept them around longer than that and they’ve stayed delicious.)