These crisp chewy little cookies will be sure to delight on your cookie platter this holiday season. Marrying the fresh tang of lemon, the floral whiff of cardamom, and the sweetness of almonds, Scandinavian kransekake cookies are a unique and delicious little bite. (skip to recipe)
Christmas is love. Love for our fellow man. Love for the babe whose birthday we celebrate. And love for our family. It is a time that brings into sharp focus the importance of all the special people in our lives. This Christmas in our family, we will share that love, and also share the pain and sorrow of losing a beloved one. We will remember those who have been part of our journey, whether they walked with us for a short while or whether they held our hand and trudged right beside us for all the hardest parts. We will whisper their names and hold them in our hearts, and we will try to find joy again.
Joy in the smallest treasures: like the glowing lights on the tree . . . like the feel of melted marshmallow on our lips as we sip our hot chocolate . . . like the hug of a soft warm shawl wrapped around our neck . . . like the sound of carols crooning softly on the radio. We will laugh and tell stories of Christmases past, we will bake cookies with the little ones, strewing flour everywhere, eating raw dough and raisins . . . we will whisper secrets and hide presents all over the house . . . we will go for walks on snowy roads, throwing snowballs and laughing at the dog.
And all the while, we will remember. We will feel the sudden ache and will swallow hard as the tug in our heart takes hold. Waves of it will wash over us. And we will try to wade through it. And we will try to walk out of it.
And we will try to smile again.
And we will eat cookies.
These lovely little morsels are a riff on the Danish wedding cake I baked several years ago. In Danish it is called kransekage (wreath cake) and in Norwegian it is called kransekake. Whichever way you spell it, kransekage is a stunning cake. Rings of deliciously chewy, almond pastry pile high to form a conical tower. When I saw how the wedding guests loved actually eating that cake, I knew I had to try baking this recipe as cookies – and you know what? They take the cake! Every bit as tasty, and even simpler to make. No assembly required. I’ve made them often since then, and they are as much of a hit as that wedding cake was.
Kransekake cookies are a lovely addition to a Christmas baking platter.
Kitchen Frau Notes: For the dough proportions to make a traditional Scandinavian kransekage, check my blog post here. I have adapted the following recipe from that one to make cookies. I’ve changed the baking time and temperature and the proportions of ingredients. This recipe makes about 80 cookies, but they are small and they keep well in a sealed container at room temperature for up to a month. They are also gluten free (if you use sweet rice flour) and dairy free.
Almond flour is sold in health food stores, and also available in larger bags in Costco.
If lemon or cardamom are not your thing, just use a teaspoon of pure vanilla or almond extract instead.
- 450 grams (1 lb/4½ cups) almond flour or ground blanched almonds
- 450 grams (1 lb/3½ cups) icing sugar
- 40 grams (1/3 cup) sweet rice flour (or regular flour), plus extra for rolling
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (or 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract)
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 4 large egg whites
to ice the cookies
- 1½ cups of icing sugar
- about 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease them.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the first five ingredients to mix them. Add the egg whites, and continue beating until the dough comes together in a ball with the consistency of sticky playdough.
Scrape the dough onto a work surface floured with sweet rice flour. Roll the dough into a large ball. Break off smaller chunks and roll them into ropes that are slightly thicker than a half-inch in diameter (about 1.5 cm), dusting the work surface with additional rice flour whenever it gets sticky.
Cut the ropes into 2-inch (5cm) pieces. Lay them about two inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, until they are golden at the edges. Leave them to cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to finish cooling. They will harden up as they cool.
When the cookies are cool, mix up the icing sugar and lemon juice to a drizzling consistency, and either place it into a squeeze bottle or a piping bag with a small round tip, or into a plastic sandwich baggie and snip off a tiny corner. Drizzle the icing over the cookies in thin lines and add a few silver dragées or sanding sugar if desired. (To avoid mess, lay the cookies on a wire cooling rack and set the rack over a wax paper or plastic wrap lined cookie sheet to catch the drips.)
Makes 80 small cookies.
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