Tuesday, December 4, 2007

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS TREATS

"KRUMKAKE GIRL" by Suzanne Tofte
**********
"NORWEGIAN COOKIES ARE MADE
WITH BUTTER AND LOVE"
(Norwegian Proverb)
**********

For our book club Christmas party, we decided to have an afternoon tea/coffee and bring desserts. A number of the desserts turned out to be Scandinavian cookies, which was fitting since at least half of us are Norwegian and/or Swedish.
The hostess made absolutely wonderful frosted sugar cookies in the shape of the Dala horse, which is a symbol of Sweden. I brought my Dala horse home uneaten specifically to scan it (and then I enjoyed it, very much.) I learned from allrecipes.com that baking is a fine art year-round in Scandinavia, "But come late November, most kitchens see a flurry of flour, sugar, spices, almonds, butter, and eggs when serious Christmas baking begins.

"Danish and Norwegian home cooks bake at least seven different kinds of cookies--a carryover from the 19th century when the number reflected a family's wealth and status. The buttery treats are packed away in tins awaiting the first Sunday of Advent and the official start of holiday entertaining. That's when Scandinavians especially love the ritual of gathering around the living room coffee table to enjoy after-dinner coffee and a dazzling array of cookies." (My friends and I were right in synch then, as our party was this past Sunday, the first Sunday in Advent.)

"Recipes for Scandinavian Christmas cookies are handed down from generation to generation, often orally. Recipes might vary between families and location, but timeless favorites exist, even overlapping national borders. Among the most popular cookies:

Pepparkakor, crisp, very thin gingersnaps from Sweden, traditionally cut out in heart and flower shapes.

Pebber Nodder (Pepper Nuts) from Denmark and Peppernotter (Pepper Nuts) from Sweden, are the oldest Christmas cookie in Scandinavia and Europe, dating to medieval times when spices were used exclusively for holiday baking.

Fattigmann (Poor Man), from Norway, also dates to the Middle Ages, and, along with rosettes, is typical of traditional cookies deep-fried in unsalted fat.

Krumkake, Vaffler, and Goro from Norway date to the 1700s. They were originally made over open fires using decorative irons, but modern cooks use electric or stovetop irons to bake paper-thin wafers imprinted with delicate filigree patterns. Krumkake, wrapped around a wooden cone, are named for the buttery crumbles left in your hand when you take a first bite.

Pepparkakorhus, the traditional gingerbread house, often a family project, is a centerpiece on many Christmas tables.

Aebleskiver, plump doughnut-like round balls are a favorite in Denmark served when friends and family go visiting between Christmas and New Year's.
My mother and grandmother did not make Scandinavian cookies because they were so readily available in Crosby during the holidays, and I don't bake them. Most of them require special tools. In Bismarck, no one makes them, so I usually miss out.


I have not tried all of the Norwegian Christmas cookies listed in allrecipes.com, but here a few of my favorites: Above: Sandbakkels, or Sand Tarts. These are baked in special little tins. They are pictured here with fruit, but we used to eat them plain.

Above, Pepparkakor. My favorites are the heart-shaped cookies. No need to bake these as they can be purchased in collectible tins (different every year) at Scandinavian shops (see below).



Below: Rosettes, shown here with powdered sugar, but they can also be eaten plain. These are made by dipping a rosette iron into batter and then deep frying.


Below: Krumkake. These are baked on a special krumkake griddle (see illustration at the top of the post) and then rolled on a cone while still pliable. They can be eaten with whipped cream and sprinkles, or plain.


Below: the Dala Horse!


Below: Fattigmann, made with triangles of dough. A slit is cut into the dough near the base of the triangle and the tip of the triangle is pulled through to the other side, then the dough is deep fried. (You can tell why I like Scandinavian cookies.)
Some other Norwegian cookies not shown here are Sprits (or Spritz) and Berlinerkranser or Christmas Wreath cookies. Recipes for all of these can be found just by googling Norwegian Christmas cookies.

20 comments:

Janet said...

What a yummy post this is!! I think I might have gained some weight just looking at all those delicious cookies!

Kelli said...

What a lovely and yummy post! I wish I could try some of those cookies!

Kelli

Mrs. Staggs said...

This is an enjoyable post for me to read. I live in a very Scandanavian community, and many of my friends make these cookies. My friend Nancy makes the Rosettes. I love them, but they are a challenge in our humidity. The Dala horse is often seen in the shop windows nearby. We also have a very wonderful Scandanavian bakery that I shop at. I give a big boxed Kringle from there to many of our friends to have with their coffee on Christmas morning. Last year I gave away 10 of them. It seems to be a much enjoyed and looked forward to gift.
A very sweet post this this is!
Take care Julie.

Rowan said...

These all look gorgeous - I'm not sure what Fattigman actually means but it certainly sounds very well named:)

Gemma said...

Krumkake girl is beautiful and Mmmm Krumkakes look like Italian Canoli's...bet they are delicious. Sounds like an enjoyable afternoon!
:-)

Autumn said...

Oh how yummy. Thanks for this post. I love learning new tradtions

KJ said...

I wanted to jump through the computer screen! This is torture! Of course, in California, we have Solvang which is located north of Santa Barbara. Even closer, in Los Alamitos, we have a bakery called The Great Dane. The bakery is packed with buttery delights such as these.

I grew up loving butter! I even memorized the tongue twister, "Betty Botta bought some butter..." Butter cookies and I were made for each other! With my Danish/Norwegian roots, I would have been right home at this party!

Hugs, KJ

P.S. I have your Celtic
CD ready to go. I just need to pick up a mailing sleeve from the Post Office. I do hope that you will enjoy it!

KJ said...

P.S. again... I love Kringles!

KJ

KJ said...

I'm still lingering...

I recently had Aebleskiver at the Orange, CA. International festival! Hmmm, yummy!

KJ

lila said...

What delicious treats!
Your bookclub had the perfect meeting this time I think!!!

Naturegirl said...

I love the idea of family tradition treats at this festive time of year.
With each bite a memory of Christmas past!I am drooling just looking at the selection of Norwegian treats!
My traditional treats will include apple studel and perhaps a cheese strudel too! I will have my mother over and though Dimentia has robbed her of short term memory...her long term still there! She will instruct me as I try making a strudel for the first time!
One of those special memories that I speak of in my latest post! Thank you for your kind words and blessings. hugs aNNa

Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

Wow....now I`m hungry :)
Really interesting post Julie. I need so much more practice with cookies. They seem to burn a lot. I will never listen to another recipe that says not to grease the pan. Even parchment paper doesn`t work for me LOL

tea
xo

Mary said...

Julie I'm ready for a cookie right now......anything to go with my late coffee (I had to fast for lab work this morning!)which is just perking now.

I enjoyed learning about the Scandinavian cookies and baking traditions. In England we always did the Christmas cake - a rich fruit cake with marzipan and royal icing on top with decorations such as tiny trees, Santas, holly sprigs etc. Then of course............well perhaps I should do a post on English Christmas food tradition, so I'll stop right here.
Yum - I'm starving now - gotta go!

Leanne said...

What a lovely post! My uncle married a norwegian woman, and I can remember as a young teenager them coming to stay one christmas, and bringing loads of traditional Norwegian treats with them! this post really brought back those memories!

Leanne x

Autumn Zephyr said...

I'll take one of everything. I adore anything made with butter and love! And between you and me? If I had to make a choice? I might pick butter.

miss*R said...

after reading all of that, I need something sweet! I love Danish cookies. My husband is Dutch and they also have lots of yummy cookies that are traditional..

Annie said...

This all looks so luscious. We have a Scandi store here in town. I rarely, if ever go in there (how weird is that?) but you can bet I'm going in there soon to check out their yummies.

judie said...

Mmmmmm cookies! I love cookies. I have a friend who used to have a cookie party every holiday season. Drat...she moved to Tennessee. Now someone else is enjoying her wonderful cookies!

LadyFlaneur said...

Those look so delicious! :D

Anonymous said...

I just cannot bring myself to buy Christmas cookies. I learned to bake from my grandmother and greatgrandmother and make a ton of Scandinavian treats among others at the holidays! Lefse was the first treat i made when i was five and it exploded from there. I was born and raised in Bismarck for the most part and after leaving the area for over 7 yrs i now live in mandan and married to a German so my recipes have expanded even more for my xmas baskets i make every year! I love this time if year!