When it comes to holiday baking, I find that is always necessary to balance the more intricate and time consuming cookies with those that require little effort, no waste and optimal taste. These Swiss Cinnamon Crisps fit the bill perfectly.
I'm not entirely sure how authentically Swiss they are; I lifted the recipe from my mother's old, tattered, paperback edition of McCall's Cookie Collection, copyright 1965. I clearly remember that book as the cornerstone of my cookie-making experience from the age of eight onward. The first brownie recipe I ever attempted is in there, along with a pleasing mix of classics mixed with funky retros like Chinese Chews and Tudor Roses. The recipes still work perfectly today.
Any cookie labeled "crisp" has instant appeal to me. The other feature that makes these a great choice for mass-multitude holiday baking is the use of a knife or pastry roller to cut the dough into strips, thus avoiding the dilemma of having scraps leftover to re-roll.
The healthy dose of cinnamon makes this buttery dough absolutely delectable. I don't find the need to alter a thing, but for those of you who long to experiment, the recipe lends itself to variation: You could easily add a variety of spices and flavorings, and/or add some finely ground walnuts or pecans to the cinnamon-sugar topping.
You can also use cutters if you like; the cookies keep their shape well while baking, but opting for the pastry cutter means no waste, and you can turn out a multitude of cookies in a minimal amount of time. I made rectangles, but I think I'm going to go for squares next time—with the fluted edges they will remind me of postage stamps.
This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so be ready for a healthy supply to give away to family and friends.
About the author: Gina DePalma is the pastry chef at Mario Batali's Babbo restaurant in New York City and the author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen. After a stint in Rome, she's back in the States sharing recipes and intel on delicious Italian eats.
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar (I used dark)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cinnamon together and set aside.
Place the butter and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer and use the paddle attachment on medium speed to cream them together until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the egg is completely incorporated.
On low speed, slowly beat in the flour mixture, then increase the speed to medium and beat the dough until it comes away from the sides of the bowl. Shape the dough into a large disc and wrap it in a sheet of plastic; refrigerate for at least one hour.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, remove the dough from the refrigerator to slightly soften it while you preheat the oven to 350°F and position the racks to the center of the oven. Spray two cookie sheets or rimmed sheet pans lightly with non-stick cooking spray and line them with parchment paper.
Make the topping by whisking together the milk and egg well in small bowl. In another bowl, stir the 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon. Set both aside.
Divide the dough into three pieces; work with one piece at a time, keeping the other pieces in a cool part of the kitchen. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough into a rectangle shape, 1/8th of an inch thick. Using a sharp knife or fluted pastry wheel, cut the dough into long strips and then into rectangles about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long; squares work well too. (Alternatively, use your favorite cutters to stamp out the cookies into desired shapes).
Arrange the dough strips 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, glaze the top of each cookie with the egg and milk mixture and sprinkle them generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Bake the cookies 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are nicely golden brown. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning.
Allow the cookies to cool for one minute on the sheet, and then slide them onto a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat as necessary with the remaining pieces of dough.
Store the cookies up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.