Basel Honey Cookies

These confections were invented by Basel's gingerbread makers in the 14th century. They originally contained ginger, but over the years candied citrus peel, which is less expensive, replaced it.

Basel Honey Cookies
These confections were invented by Basel's gingerbread makers in the 14th century.
Yield: makes 60

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 14 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. kirsch
  • 14 cup finely chopped candied orange peel
  • 14 cup finely chopped candied lemon peel
  • 34 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 12 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 12 tsp. ground cloves
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 34 cups flour
  • 1 14 cups confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  1. Heat honey in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, add sugar, and cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves, about 15 minutes. Set aside to let cool.
  2. Put baking soda and kirsch into a large bowl, and stir until dissolved; then add cooled honey. Stir in candied orange and lemon peels, almonds, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Gradually add flour, stirring with a large metal spoon until dough becomes too stiff to stir; then knead in remaining flour with your hands until well combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap, and set aside in a cool place overnight (do not refrigerate).
  3. Preheat oven to 350°. Divide dough in half; then roll out each half on a well-floured work surface into a 14''-thick rectangle. (Dough will be stiff and will require some effort to roll out.) Transfer each rectangle to a greased, parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet, and bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven; then, while rectangles are still warm, square off edges of each one with a sharp knife, and deeply score each one to make a grid of smaller rectangles about 2'' long X 112'' wide.
  4. Mix together confectioners' sugar and 3 tbsp. water in a medium bowl until smooth, brush a thin, even layer on warm scored rectangles, and set aside to let cool completely. Break cookies into rectangles. Store in airtight containers up to 1 year, if you like.