Swiss Apple Tiramisu

I posted this originally in 2012, and wanted to share it with those new to the blog!  I’ll be making this tonight as a dessert to Swiss cheese fondue; despite the cream layer, it will make a light and refreshing contrast to the heavier main meal.  Over a decade ago, I got this recipe from a Swiss friend; I’ve made it dozens of times, and it always gets rave reviews and requests for the recipe!  Unlike other tiramisu, this has no raw eggs, or coffee.


lady finger cookies

Lady Fingers Cookies

Swiss Apple Tiramisu


750 gr. apples

Peel them, chop into large chunks, and blitz them with a chopper (or knife if you’re a purist) into a coarse apple puree.  Add:

1 Tbs. vanilla sugar

½ lemon’s juice

1 C. apple juice

a dash of Amaretto or almond extract

Mix it all together into an apple sauce.  Next, in a separate bowl, mix the cream layer:

500 gr. mascarpone

5 dl. whipped cream

2 Tbs. apple schnapps (Calvados)

Beat til foamy.  You’ll also need:

3 pkgs. Lady Finger cookies (approx. 18 per 2 layers = 36)

In a casserole dish, layer as follows: A bit of applesauce, then rows of biscuits, and whipped topping; repeat once more.

Make this at least an hour before serving, and chill it until time to serve.  I stab toothpicks around the edge and a few down the centre to keep the plastic foil from touching a nicely-smoothed surface.

Swiss Mailänderli Cookies (Mailaenderli)

These cookies (pronounced ” ‘my-land-er-lee”) are one of the traditional Swiss Christmas cookies (along with Spitzbuben and Zitronmöndli), and are very similar to English and American sugar cookies, though they are less crumbly than the latter’s.

Mailänderli - Credit, Tagesanzeiger Newspaper

Mailänderli.  Image Credit: Tagesanzeiger, Swiss Newspaper

Swiss Mailaenderli

250 gr. whipped butter (9 oz.)
250 gr. Sugar (9 oz.)
3 eggs
3–4 Tbs. milk
1 pinch of salt
1 grated lemon peel
500 gr. Flour (18 oz.)

Mix together until smooth.
Roll dough to 3–4 mm thickness, cut out shapes with a cookie cutter.
Paint with the egg yolk. *
Before baking, place in a cool place for ~ 30 minutes–1 hour.**
Bake @ 200 °C for 10 minutes, bottom rack.

*They are brushed with egg yolk before baking to give them the typical golden top, and are usually served plain, without icing, though if you want to top them with icing, add a drop or two of milk or water to powdered sugar to make a fairly stiff icing, and spread a dab on the top of each with a spoon.

**This is traditionally recommended, to help them keep their shapes better. If you don’t have the time, you can chill them ~10 minutes, or just bake straight away, though they tend to spread more if they go in the oven warm.

En Guete!

Swiss Zitronenmöndli (Little Lemon Moon) Cookies

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The Swiss Zitronenmöndli is one of the traditional Christmas cookies here (along with Spitzbuben and Mailänderli).  In High German they are called “Zitronenmöndchen” ; both the -li and -chen are diminutive forms for nouns in the two different dialects (at least in the dialect used around here, in the Zürich area).  These cookies, as their name suggests, are usually cut into the shapes of moons, and glazed with a simple lemon glaze; the finely-ground almonds replace the need for flour.  Sometimes you’ll see them decorated with chopped pistachio nuts, though that is a more modern addition to the traditional recipe; you could also sprinkle lightly-roasted almond slivers over the glaze.

Left to right: Mailänderli; Zitronenmöndli; Spitzbuben

Left to right: Mailänderli; Zitronenmöndli; Spitzbuben

Swiss Zitronenmöndli

350 gr. ground almonds (12 oz.)
200 gr. Sugar (7 oz.)
1 pinch salt
2–3 lemons, peeling grated
1½ fresh egg whites, lightly beaten

Stir all together gradually & thoroughly. On a bit of powdered sugar, roll the dough out to 7 mm thick (¼”). Cut out various sized moons, spread out onto a baking papered tray. Let sit 5–6 hours or overnight at room temperature, to dry out [This step is traditional, but unnecessary in my experience; if the dough is stiff enough to cut neatly, it should hold its shape in the oven fairly well].

Bake in the middle of a 325°F preheated oven, 8–10 minutes. To decorate, brush still–warm cookies with the lemon glaze, then sprinkle a bit of the grated lemon peeling over the top of the glaze while still moist.

Lemon Glaze:

~2 tsp. Lemon juice
150 gr. Powdered sugar (5 oz.)

Stir together until the glaze reaches a thick consistency. Go easy on the liquid, or you’ll need a ton of sugar to get the right consistency!

Swiss Spitzbuben Cookies

Here in Switzerland, if you only bake one cookie around Christmas, this is likely to be the one!  Its name – Spitzbuben – roughly translated, means “Cheeky Boy”, and is taken from the word that originated in the 16th century meaning “trickster” or “con-man”.

My husband and I had a baking time together today, and this is one of three traditional cookies we made; I’ll share the others with you over the next two weeks.

Spitzbuben cuttersSpitzbuben dough needs to be rolled out fairly thin, because the final product will be double-layered; we rolled it out to 3mm.  Half of the cookies are then cut out whole, and half are cut out with a hole in the centre – a “window” to see the filling through.  There are special cutters for this procedure here, but you can simply use a larger and a smaller cutter, well-centred, if you don’t have such cutters available or on-hand.


250 gr. butter (9 oz)Spitzbuben
125 gr. sugar or powdered sugar (5 oz.)
2 tsp. vanilla sugar, or vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1 egg white
350 gr. flour (12 oz.)


~ 200 gr. Clear jelly or jam (7 oz.)

Whip the butter until smooth, then add the sugar, vanilla & salt, & whip until the mixture is light. Beat the egg, & add to the mixture, & then slowly add the flour while stirring, until the mixture is light & smooth. Cover, & chill 1 hour.  About 10 minutes before rolling, remove from fridge. On a lightly-floured surface, roll dough flat (3 mm).  Cut with forms of Ø 4–5 cm. Half of the cookies should have a design cut out of their centres (for the top half of the cookies). Lay the cookies on a papered–tray. Bake @ 200°C ~ 6 – 8 minutes, cool for 15 minutes. (They should be fairly pale; it doesn’t take much for them to become too dark, as this dough doesn’t tend to go “golden brown”.)

The dough will rise slightly; turn the bottom halves over once they’re cooled, and they have created natural little “bowls ” to hold the jelly!  Spread a bit of the jelly (make sure it’s clear, without chunks of fruit in it) on the bottom half (~1 tsp.), and set aside.  When the top halves are ready, dust them with powdered sugar, and then place one top on each prepared base.

Serve with a glass of cold milk!

En Guete!




Swiss Wild Mushroom Fondue

Here in Switzerland, winter is cheese season – Raclette and cheese fondue are the most popular dishes; I stress “cheese” fondue (also known as Fondue Neuchateloise), because there are other varieties that have nothing to do with cheese, such as Fondue Bourguignonne (chunks of meat), Fondue Chinoise (thin slices of beef or pork cooked in bouillon), or Fondue Bacchus (thin slices of pork, veal or seafood cooked in white wine).  The earliest known recipe for modern cheese fondue comes from my neck of the woods, Zürich, Switzerland, in the year 1699, and we Swiss are wise enough to know that if it works, don’t change it!


This is the set we have.

This is the set we have.

Swiss Cheese Fondue

* You will need a fondue crock set.
Calculate 200 – 300 gr. cheese per person (see note below)

1 fresh clove garlic, whole


White Wine

cornstarch (start off with 1/2 Tbs. & increase as necessary)

A handful of mushrooms (see below)

Mouth-sized chunks of bread of your choice (we usually prefer a “brown” bread)

A variety of pickles (baby corn cobs, cucumbers, onions, garlic, etc.) as condiments

Chilled white wine, or hot tea as beverage (see warning below!)


  • Typical fondue cheeses are Gruyère, Appenzeller Rezent, or Tilsiter; if you can’t find those, you can substitute hard, sharp–tasting cheeses. Chop them into chunks, then throw them in the crock & melt it on the stove. [If you use gorgonzola, I would use ¼ to ½ gorgi, & ½ to ¾ harder cheeses.]

Take the crock, & rub the insides with either freshly sliced garlic, or a garlic paste; then chop the garlic, & add it to the cheese after it’s melted.

Once the cheese has begun to melt & is stirrable, pour in kirsch, & white wine (not too much, but enough to thin the cheese down).

You’ll need some kind of a sauce binder like cornstarch (that thickens sauces, neutral tasting); stir it in to the cheese well (I first mix a bit into kirsch, to dissolve it well).

At this stage you can add the garlic and mushrooms.

Morel (left), Porcini (right)

Morel (left), Porcini (right)

  • If the mushrooms you’re using are the dried varieties, soften in warm water and then slice into mouth-sized bites.  I use a combination of morel (Morchel) and porcini (Steinpilz) (I’ve put links to Wikipedia articles in case you are unfamiliar with the English or German names). Try to use aromatic mushrooms, and avoid using the bland button mushrooms!

While the cheese is still melting, prepare the rest of the ingredients (pickles, bread chunks, etc.); get it all ready to go, because once the cheese is on the table burner the meal is hectic for the first few minutes, trying to keep the cheese from burning on the bottom (by stirring a chunk of bread in it) and pouring the wine, etc.

I serve fondue with chunks of bread to dip, + side dishes of all kinds of mixed pickles, & chilled white wine.
We also serve one glass / bowl of kirsch, to dip the bread in prior to stirring in the cheese–it adds a nice bite to the bread.

  • If you don’t want alcohol, I would still recommend cooking wine in the stove stage; you can serve it with hot black tea. If you serve it with cold non–alcoholic beverages, the cheese tends to clump in the stomach, & can be uncomfortable!

En Guete!

Swiss Christmas “Samichlaus” Gift Bags


Swiss Samichlaus & Schmutzli

A Swiss Santa Claus and Schmutzli, in traditional costume.

Here in Switzerland, Santa has come and gone!  In Zürich alone, the Swiss Santas (“Samichlaus”) will make roughly 1,000 visits this year; within a few days around 6 December each year, just over 30 Santas, 50 Schmutzli and 50 drivers are underway.  Now I’m fairly certain most of my readers are familiar with Santa; but here in Switzerland, his helper is called Schmutzli.  Parents throughout the land book Samichlaus and his assistant, “Schmutzli”, and fill in a form for their children:  Names, ages, their favourite subject in school, and the most important questions:  What have the children improved in since the last visit by Samichlaus, and where do they need to improve?  Making their bed, cleaning their room, being nice to their siblings, or sharing more often?  The Samichlaus und his assistants (often two Schmutzli, who are the “coal” bearers, and often have blackened faces, and carry large baskets with some coal, a besom broom, and room for gifts given back to them by grateful parents!) go to the home at the appointed time, and sit down to speak with each child, reading from a great book they carry with them.  Each child is then given a “Samichlaus” bag, and perhaps a gift sponsored by the parents.

Thomas Fetz, local Schmutzli. Image Credit: Migrosmagazin

Thomas Fetz, local Schmutzli. Image Credit: Migrosmagazin

Since 6 December is the official Samichlaus Day, it is customary on that day to give “Samichlaussäckli” (Santa Claus Bags) to friends, family, neighbours and coworkers.  They are great winter gifts to take when visiting friends, and so I thought I would share it here with you, to spread Christmas cheer!

Swiss Samichlaus-Bag:Swiss Samichlaussäck

Peanuts in the shell (whole walnuts are also traditional, but optional)

Mandarin Oranges, apples

Individually wrapped chocolates

Homemade Christmas cookies, wrapped in clear plastic

Options:  Gingerbread men, marzipan fruits, or pralines


The traditional bag is made of burlap, though cloth or plastic will work well too.  Fill the bags, and put a note on them if you’re going to leave them at a neighbour’s door, or on a co-worker’s desk.  Enjoy the joy of giving!  And Merry Christmas!

Some bags I prepared for my husband's coworkers; the santa claus is a chocolate ornament hanging on our tree.

Some bags I prepared for my husband’s co-workers (mandarin oranges are hiding in there somewhere!); the Santa Claus is a chocolate ornament hanging on our tree.


Spinach Pie (Spinatwähe)


Spinach Pie, ReducedWe had this tonight, and it was very good!  I’ve translated the recipe from a Swiss recipe for “Spinatwähe”.  If you like savoury pies, you’ll like this one!

Spinach Pie (Spinatwähe)

Butter for the pie tin
1 round pie dough, 270 gr. (for 1 pie, 26-28 cm Ø)
300 gr. (10.5 oz.) frozen, chopped spinach – thawed
2 dl. (6.5 oz.) cream
4 eggs
1 tsp. thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste
100 gr. (3.5 oz.) diced ham
Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F)

Lay the rolled-out dough into a buttered round pie tin; purée the filling together and then pour into the pie dough and sprinkle the diced ham over the top (or stir it into the filling before pouring in, whichever you prefer).

On the lowest rack of the oven, bake at 220°C for 25-30 Minutes.


Serves 8

Baking time, ca. 30 minutes

Schinken-Kaese (Ham & Cheese) Strudel

This recipe is simple, delicious, and prepared quickly.  It’s one of those meals you can throw together in minutes, and perfect for a cool evening.  The cheese you choose will determine the distinctive flavour; I tend to use a sharp cheese, such as Gruyére cheese aged in a cave, or réserve if you can’t get anything more aged.  Cheddar might have too dominant a taste, but to each his or her own!  You can always experiment!Käseschinken Strudel

Schinken-Kaese Strudel

1 Phyllo pastry dough, rectangular

2 eggs

200 gr. grated cheese of choice

1 C. cream cheese

150 gr  Ham, finely chopped

1/2 onion, finely chopped

A sprinkling each of chives, salt and pepper

A bit of cream to brush to dough

Chop the ham & onion finely, then mix the eggs, spices & cheeses into the blend.  Mound along the centre of the phyllo dough leaving the ends and sides free; wrap and press the seam together carefully, then pinch together at the ends.  Flip over, seam-side down, and brush with the cream; take a sharp knife and cut a few slits along the top of the dough to allow steam to escape.  Bake at 200°C ~20-30 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve it alone, or with either a steamed vegetable of choice, or oven fries baked on the same tray as the strudel, surrounding it (bake according to their packaging directions; it may require more or less time than the strudel, so you may need to add one or the other seperately to time it well).

Follow-Up to Swiss Salted Lemons Recipe

Lemon Reversed

I’ve been using the salted lemons in any savoury dish calling for either lemons, lemon juice or lemon zest, or lemon grass.  I’ve diced them about the size of a half-pea, and they taste amazing, even as-is!!  This is definitely a keep-on-hand ingredient, and I’ll be making another batch before I run out!  If you haven’t tried them, but you like citrus zing in your foods, this is a must-try!

I’ve also filled a small jar with these diced, topping it with some of the juice from the batch; I keep it in the fridge for a quick condiment at the table for guests to add as they like.

Swiss Cholera – Oberwalliser Lauchkuchen (Valais Leek Pie)

CholeraThis traditional Swiss recipe got its dubious name most likely during the cholera epidemics of the early 19th century; unwilling to leave the house, they used what they had on hand, packing it into a pie and baking it.  An educated guess is that, especially up in the Alps where technology was slow to come and even slower to be accepted, people were baking these either in their stone or clay bread ovens.  The apples add a nice contrast to the leeks and ham, and a good cheese makes all the difference in the world!  Raclette cheese is recommended for the reason that it’s quite a creamy melting cheese, but any good-quality cheese will work as well – Appenzeller, Gruyere, Emmentaler, etc.

Swiss Cholera

1 large onion, finely diced

300 gr. Leeks (3-4 stalks), halved lengthwise and ringed

60 gr. Ham, finely chopped

Nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste

250 gr. (6-8 med.) potatoes, boiled, chopped

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped

150 Raclette cheese, or any good cheese, grated or diced

butter and flour for the baking form

500 gr. Pie crust dough (enough for a bottom and top crust)

1 egg yolk for brushing the top dough

Traditional Method:

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) Prepare the vegetables.  Saute the ham, adding spices to taste, then add the onion and leek, then add the chopped potatoes and apples; stir well, remove from heat.  Just before pouring the mixture into the prepared bottom crust, mix the grated cheese into the pan well.

Butter and flour your chosen baking form (round, or casserole), and then lay the bottom crust in.  Pour in the mixture, spreading out and topping with the top crust.  Pinch the edges together, slice away any extra dough, and puncture the top dough with a knife or fork to allow steam to escape.  Brush with the egg yolk, and bake for ~35-45 minutes.

My Method:

Preheat the oven.  Instead of sauteeing the vegetables before baking, I prepare the vegetables as described in the ingredients list, then toss them together with the grated cheese and spices before pouring it all into the prepared bottom crust.  I add a wee bit of milk, but it’s not really necessary.  Top with the top crust, pinch it together and trim away the extra dough, then bake as above.  In the boiling of the potatoes, I also added a few carrots to add a bit of colour; I boiled them with the potatoes, and chopped them both to large bite-sized bits once they were cool enough to handle.

En Guete!

Prep:  30 minutes  /  Bake:  45 minutes  /  Total:  75 minutes