A recipe that originated in the Thusis region—within the Swiss canton of Graubünden, Thusner Hosenknöpfe are sweet little biscuits flavored with rosewater and lemon zest. Hosenknöpfe means “trouser buttons,” a name these biscuits earned for their shape and size. Popular during the time leading up to and during the Easter holiday, you can throw these 6-ingredient biscuits together rather quickly, although shaping them does take some time.
I first learned of Thusner Hosenknöpfe when I saw them among the list of traditional Swiss foods maintained by Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse (Culinary Heritage of Switzerland). These biscuits have been around for over 100 years, as the oldest recipe found for them dates back to 1905. Intrigued by rosewater as an ingredient, I tracked down a recipe from a 1998 school newsletter from Graubünden. The recipe that appears below was translated and adapted from this newsletter.
With a firm exterior and a softer center, these small round biscuits are very satisfying, especially for little hands, as my children will confirm. They are also a nice handmade gift for friends and family.
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
- 1/4 cup butter (60 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- zest of one small lemon (or half a large lemon)
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (100 ml) rosewater
- 3 1/2 cups (450 grams) all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, mix the sugar, butter and egg together until well-combined.
- Whisk in the lemon zest and rosewater.
- Add the flour to the bowl and gently combine to form a soft dough, without over-mixing.
- On a lightly floured surface, make long cylinders with a diameter of a little over an inch (about 3 cm). Then, cut them into pieces, with a length of about a little over a half-inch (1.5 cm) each.
- In the palms of your hand, rolls these pieces into a ball and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes at 300º C / 150º F.