My general attitude towards heart-shaped things is “Can you go and be kitsch somewhere else please? It’s making my face ache. With disgust.”
I’m sorry if we don’t share the same outlook on life, but hey, more giant squidgy I-Love-You – holding teddy bears for you. I mean, someone’s got to take them.
However! There’s always a however. These biscuits are an exception. Why? Nostalgia and childhood memories my friend. This one is for you, fellow expats. For all those fondly reminiscing the tins upon tins of delicious Christmas bickies.
Nobody can make a biscuit quite like the Swiss.
Oh it’s not Christmas? Christmas is just an excuse to make biscuits. I don’t need an excuse.
So let me introduce you to the humble Mailänderli. A plain, simple, buttery little thing, with a golden lacquered top with a faint whiff of citrus. A general all-rounder, this biscuit fits perfectly into the breakfast category, best with a cup of milky tea.
Makes about 100, depending on size
250g butter, softened
220g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
grated rind of one lemon
500g plain flour
1 egg yolk
1 tsp cream
With a handheld mixer, whip the butter, sugar, salt, and lemon rind until well combined and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each one is added. Whip until the mixture turns a few shades lighter. Replace the mixer with a wooden spoon of some sort, because you’ll be adding the flour now, and you don’t want it all over your kitchen floor. Gently stir the flour into the butter mixture, until it comes together as a soft, yellow dough.
Now, divide into two and cling wrap each ball of dough and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. I tend to put one half in the freezer, because it does make a lot.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out between two layers of plastic (I find a plastic bag cut in half works beautifully. That way you don’t risk your biscuits getting too floury or dry) to a thickness of about 8mm. Now it’s time to go wild with your cookie cutters. Use whatever shape you want, just be aware that you may have to adjust the baking time according to the size of your biscuits.
Lay them out on a lined baking tray with enough space between them so they can spread, and pop them back into the fridge tor 15 minutes to firm up.
In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolk and cream, and preheat the oven to 200°C. When the Meiländerli are ready to come out of the fridge, get one of those kitchen paintbrushes and paint the top of each of them with the egg yolk mixture. Whack them in the oven for about 10 minutes until slightly golden. Whatever you do, keep an eye on them, because they like to be sneaky and go a shade darker, depending on your oven of course.
Take them out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
They’ll last for a couple of days in an airtight container.