Brunsli are Basel’s classic Christmas cookies. Here the Brunsli base (dark chocolate and ground almonds) is topped with a white chocolate mousse and served with a red fruit coulis for a sharp contrast. If you don’t have access to ready-made Brunsli dough, you’ll just have to buy my book A Taste of Switzerland, available from Amazon or direct from Bergli Books in Basel.

Serves 8-10
500g Brunsli dough
50g sugar + 6 tbsp water
2 leaves gelatine, soaked in cold water till floppy
200g white chocolate
500ml whipping cream + 1 packet cream stiffener + 1 tbsp sugar
500g raspberries
sugar to taste
optional: a splash of Kirsch or framboise

  • Cut a disc of non-stick baking paper to fit the bottom of a 26 cm springform cake tin and oil the sides
  • Press the dough out into the bottom of the tin to cover the bottom
  • Heat the oven to 250oC and bake the base for 5-6 minutes until firm
  • Remove the tin from the oven and let it cool
  • Dissolve the sugar gently in the water in a small pan, bring to a boil and boil the syrup for 5 minutes; pull it off the heat
  • Squeeze out the gelatine, drop it into the pan and stir to dissolve
  • Put the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl with 3 tablespoons of the cream, cover with clingfilm and melt in the microwave on medium heat for one minute (be careful, it blocks easily) – check, and give it another half minute if necessary to melt thoroughly
  • Remove from the microwave and beat till smooth
  • Mix in the cooled gelatine syrup and allow to cool to room temperature
  • Whip the rest of the cream with the electric mixer until beginning to thicken; add the cream stiffener +  sugar and beat till stiff
  • Add the whipped cream to the chocolate, using a wire whisk to lift and fold the two together smoothly
  • Tip the mousse into the tin, smooth the top and chill till firm
  • Purée the raspberries in the liquidizer with a little water, optional spirit and sugar to taste, strain through a sieve to eliminate pips
  • Release the springform and set the torte on a plate
  • Serve in slices with the raspberry coulis

An absolutely classic, seriously chocolatey cake from a very dear friend in Basel. It’s rich with ground almonds and dark chocolate (use the best you can find/afford) and gorgeous either as a dessert, or with coffee or tea. The cake must be prepared ahead – up to two days, in order for the flavours to mellow. It stays wonderfully moist and it freezes well. Set it on your best white plate and serve in slivers, as it’s very rich.

Makes 12-24 slices
150g best quality dark chocolate (see note above)
125g butter, cut in dice
6 eggs, separated
150g ground almonds
optional: 1 tbsp framboise, kirsch or Cointreau (or other fruit spirit)
a pinch of salt
75g sugar

  • Heat the oven to 170oC
  • Cut a disc of baking parchment to fit the bottom of a 26cm springform cake tin
  • Butter and flour the sides, knock away any excess flour
  • Break the chocolate in squares and melt it with the butter over very gentle heat in a heavy pan, stirring until smooth
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the yolks, ground almonds and optional spirit
  • Put the whites in a large mixing bowl with a pinch of salt
  • Beat them until they hold soft peaks
  • Still beating, sprinkle on the sugar in a steady stream
  • Continue beating a few minutes more until the mixture looks like meringue
  • Spoon two tablespoons of whites into the chocolate-almond mixture to get it going in the right direction
  • Then carefully cut and fold in the rest, taking care not to squash out the air
  • Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until well risen, no longer wobbly when nudged, and just firm to the touch
  • It can afford to be underdone – it should be moist
  • Cool it in the tin, then release the springform and set a cake rack on top
  • Invert the cake, peel away the bottom paper
  • Put the cake on a plate, decorate as wished

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