Mailänderli generally contain equal parts butter and sugar, some lemon zest and a bright yellow coating brushed on their surface. Routinely described as one of Switzerland’s most popular Christmas cookies, this Swiss cookie is almost impossible not to like. In some bakeries, you can find them year-round.
Known throughout Switzerland, these cookies change their name depending on which linguistic region you’re in. They are called Mailänderli in German-speaking Switzerland, while in Suisse Romande (French-speaking Switzerland), I refer to them as Milanais. In Italian-speaking Switzerland, you might call them Milanesini. It is not exactly clear how an Italian place name got connected to them. The earliest evidence of these cookies in Switzerland seems to come from Basel in the 18th century, as reported by Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse.
approx. 45-60 minutes
bake for 10-13 minutes
Makes about 3 dozen biscuits
150 grams unsalted butter, softened
150 grams sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
zest of half a lemon, one lime or a small orange
250 grams all-purpose (white) flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
Brush on before baking:
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon milk
1/4 teaspoon sugar
- In a large bowl, mix the sugar and butter together until creamy. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract and citrus zest and stir vigorously until the mixture is light and somewhat fluffy. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Then, add this mixture to the large bowl with the wet ingredients and stir together just until a dough forms. Take dough out of the bowl and form into a flattened disk. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate the dough for about 30-60 minutes.
- On a floured surface and with a rolling pin dusted in flour, roll out the dough to about 7-8 mm thick (about a quarter inch). With cookie cutters that have a diameter of about 3 cm (1 ¼ inches), cut out little shapes in the dough and gently place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Tip: If the dough becomes too soft, place the cut-out cookies back in the refrigerator to cool for about 10-15 minutes before baking).
- Whisk together the egg yolk, milk and sugar. Brush a thin layer of this mixture on the surface of the cut-out cookies. Bake them for about 10-13 minutes at 180°C / 350°F, just until the cookies begin to turn a light golden brown on their edges. Let them cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, and then place them on a wire rack to cool. Store in an air-tight container.