Leckerli is the Swiss-German word for gingerbread, finding its root in the adjective lecker, meaning delicious, which is also where the German noun Leckerei, delicacy or choice morsel, comes from. Basel is a beautiful old city in the German-speaking area of Switzerland, and Basler Leckerli have a long tradition there. Kirschwasser, which flavors the bar and the icing, is a favorite of the Swiss. You only need a little bit, but you can use the rest of the bottle for other Swiss dishes, such as fondue, in which its inclusion is traditional.
1Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
2Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt together in a small bowl.
3Combine honey and granulated sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, swirling pan a few times to combine mixture. Boil for 2 minutes; make sure sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 2 minutes.
4Whisk in Kirschwasser (be careful, as mixture may bubble up). Stir in candied peels and almonds, then stir in flour mixture. Scrape into baking pan, spreading batter evenly. Allow to sit for 1 hour; the texture and flavor improve with time.
5Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
6Place pan on rack to cool. Cut into 35 bars (5 x 7) before glazing, but leave in pan.
7Meanwhile, whisk together glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Spread in a thin, even layer over cooled bars.
8Rescore bars while glaze is warm; glaze will crack if you try to cut it after cooling.
To fancy these up, slice candied cherry halves and use these and bits of candied fruit or nuts to make designs on each bar. You can make somewhat abstract flower shapes or just create a little cluster of candied fruit to add color in a pretty pattern.
10This spicy bar cookie is made in one saucepan and starts with boiling honey. This unusual technique gives it a very chewy texture, so do not expect a soft, cakey bar. These have substance and lots of flavor from the Kirschwasser (clear cherry brandy), candied citrus peel, honey, almonds, and spices. These improve in texture and flavor after a few days, so plan ahead.
Up to 6 days at room temperature in airtight container, but at their best after 3 or 4 days.