Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Norwegian almond cookies - Kransekake {Recipe}



I'm ashamed to say that I’m not very fluent in Norwegian but I do have the important things down pat like
chocolate - sjokolade,
cake - kake, and
thank you for the meal - takk for maten.
Then of course there’s the important social greetings like
“Hello” - Hei!“Happy Birthday” - Gratulerer med dagen, and
Merry Christmas - God Jul.
But there’s another part of the Norwegian language that I am slowly mastering – cookies.

Cookies are the traditional language of Christmas in Norway.  Each year on Christmas Eve, families lay a feast which must include seven sorts of classic Christmas cookies.  My mum tells me the number varies according to the region you come from – she remembers her mum making twelve different cookies but these days seven is more common.

These days most families buy their cookies for the Christmas table but there are still some husmors (housewives) who still bake the holiday favourites. 

There are over twenty classic Christmas cookies to choose from but one of my favourites is a recipe that I've already shared with you before: Kransekake.


Kransekake is Norway's answer to the macaroon.  Jaw achingly chewy, they are highly addictive.  Baked as rings, Kransekake makes an impressive centrepiece at important holidays and celebrations – remember the one I made one for my sister's wedding cake

But I think that they're equally di-licious and a lot simpler to bake as little cookies.




Leave them plain or ice them with royal icing.  Either way they’d make a wonderful gift presented in a pretty jar. 

The baked cookies also freeze like a dream, making them a fantastic bake-ahead recipe for the silly season.  I’ll be baking a few more batches before December in order to meet the family demands.


And if you’re looking for a little Scandinavian inspiration this Christmas, why not check out IKEA.  I picked up these gorgeous reindeer tree decorations last week.  They also have the sweetest Nordic cookie cutters... you’ll be a Scandi baker before you know it.

God Jul!


Recipe: Norwegian almond macaroon cookies (Kransekake)
Makes: 50+ cookies

Ingredients
330g pure icing sugar
330g ground almonds
2 egg whites
5 drops almond essence

Royal icing
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 egg white


Method

  • Preheat oven to 200°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  • Using a food processor, grind together the icing sugar and almond meal.
  • Tip into a large mixing bowl and then add egg whites and almond essence.
  • Mix together until the mixture becomes a smooth dough.
  • Sprinkle your benchtop with icing sugar and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1 cm. (If the dough is too sticky, use a sheet of baking paper between the dough and rolling pin to make rolling easier).
  • Using a 2cm round cutter, cut out rounds of dough and place onto the lined baking sheets.
  • Bake cookies for approx 10min until slightly coloured.  They should be dry and firm on the outside but slightly chewy on the inside.
  • Allow to cool on tray for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Royal icing

  • Whizz your icing sugar in a food processor (cheat's way of sifting).
  • Add the egg white and mix on low speed until egg white is incorporated and then on medium speed until icing is smooth.
  • Fit a piping bag with a small plain piping tip.
  • Load up your piping bag with icing and decorate cookies as desired.


Baking notes:
  • The recipe is simple enough – almonds, icing sugar and egg whites.  I cheat and use ready-ground almond meal and use a food processor to whizz the icing sugar with the almond meal so I don’t have to sift it (purists would grind the nuts themselves and sift it with the icing sugar). 
  • I've added almond essence to imitate the taste of bitter almonds.
  • If you don't have a small round cutter, roll the dough into walnut sized balls and flatten slightly before baking.  They'll be just as di-licious.
  • Baked, uniced cookies can be frozen for 3-6months.  

7 comments:

Tina said...

I remember these lovely cookies! You are ahead of me, I have yet to start my cookie baking for the holidays-time is traveling too fast. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Di (aka Di-licious) said...

Hi Tina - it's never to early to start baking for Xmas! And now that November has snuck in, there's no time to lose. :-D

Anne @ Domesblissity said...

Di, that recipe sounds gorgeous. I can taste one right now. I've got to get through these 2 birthdays in November before I even think about Christmas baking.

Anne x

Di (aka Di-licious) said...

I know what you mean Anne - I have Olive;s birthday party the first weekend of December so need to refocus on party food. At least this cookie recipe is so simple to whip up, it won't matter when in December you bake it! Good luck.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ahh memories of when I made a Kransekake wedding cake for a friend. everyone was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was and I was so relieved!

Laura said...

Oh yum, just stumbled across your blog via Blog Chicks and I'm hooked already!!

I love anything almondy though.

*tummy rumble* haha

Di (aka Di-licious) said...

@Lorraine - everyone should be exposed to the wonderfulness that is kransekakke!

@Laura - welcome to my Di-licious corner of the blogisphere! Hope to see you back real soon (but maybe eat beforehand?) :-)