At Christmastime, my Norwegian grandmother, Alma Score Otto, took the Greyhound bus from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, to our Bloomington, Minnesota home. She carried one suitcase and a round old tin the size of a Tupperware cake carrier. Dad carried her suitcase, but she did not allow him to carry the tin. She guarded that tin with her life. Inside, between sheets of wax paper, lay dozens of fragile and delicious homemade sandbakkels and krumkake.
To this day my Christmas tradition includes making sandbakkels and krumkake and, like my grandma, I guard the tin I store them in with my life. I freeze the Norwegian cookies the same day I make them, otherwise they would never last in this house until Christmas. Even so, I’ve chased away a time or two a freezer elf, dark-haired, and about 5 foot ten, who snitches them. The fragile cookies are delicious and I believe it’s because of the special spice, cardamom.
Various members of my family disagree as to why they love the cookies. My oldest son, Sam, likes them chewy. My mother, and my grandmother would argue, making them so thin one can see light through them, is what makes a perfect sandbakkel. Either way is fine with me. They are melt-in-your-mouth good.
[ingredient]1 cup butter[/ingredient]
[ingredient]1 cup sugar[/ingredient]
[ingredient]2-and-a-half cups flour (do not use self-rising flour)[/ingredient]
[ingredient]½ tsp. cardamom[/ingredient]
[instructions]Cream butter and sugar thoroughly.[/instructions]
[instructions]Add beaten egg, cardamom, and flour.[/instructions]
[instructions]Dust flour into the sandbakkels tins.[/instructions]
[instructions]Pack dough balls into sandbakkels tins. Make sure you press the dough up the sides, all the way to the top as as the cookie bakes, the dough will shrink down the sides. (Of course, for Sam, this makes the perfect, chewy cookie.)
Set tins onto a cookie sheet and bake 13 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove the cookies immediately from the tins by flipping them upside down and lightly flicking the tin onto a cutting board. Once the cookie has released from the tin, turn the cookie over so it is upright, like pictured. Allow to cool before storing. Will keep great in the freezer. Allow to thaw 30 minutes – if you can resist.[/instructions]
[yield]24 cookies made in tins[/yield]
These delicate cookies look like something should be filled inside of them, much like an Italian cannoli. but the Norwegian krumkake I had growing up, had no filling. They were too thin and would have crumbled in my hand. Krumkake should be thin, and when done perfectly, look like a lightly browned edible doily.
You’ll need a stove, a krumkake iron, and a cone roller.
[ingredient]1 cup sugar[/ingredient]
[ingredient]1/2 cup melted butter[/ingredient]
[ingredient]2 tablespoons cornstarch[/ingredient]
[ingredient]1 and a half cups flour (do not use self-rising flour)[/ingredient]
[ingredient]1/2 teaspoon cardamom (or vanilla). I add both. And I am generous with the cardamom.[/ingredient]
[instructions]Beat eggs slightly.[/instructions]
[instructions]Add sugar to eggs and beat until light. Do not overbeat.[/instructions]
[instructions]Add cardamom or vanilla.[/instructions]
[instructions]Blend in melted cooled butter.[/instructions]
[instructions]Add cornstarch and flour.[/instructions]
[instructions]Heat the Krumkake iron to medium high heat. (Do not oil the iron.)[/instructions]
[instructions]Make sure the iron is hot on both sides.[/instructions]
[instructions]Put a tsp. full of dough on center of iron and lightly press down. Bake each side approximately10 seconds.[/instructions]
[instructions]Slide the cookie off with a knife.[/instructions]
[instructions]Roll cookie onto cone while still hot and set on cooling rack.[/instructions]
[instructions]Store in tight container, separating layers with wax paper or parchment paper.[/instructions]
[yield]Makes 40 Krumkake cookies.[/yield]
May your Christmas be a cherished time of gathering with family and friends as you celebrate the reason for the season.
Julie Saffrin is the author of numerous published articles and essays. Her latest book, BlessBack: Thank Those Who Shaped Your Life, explores the power of gratitude and offers 120 creative ways to journey toward positive, lasting change.