Cookie Extravaganza: Berlinerkranser
Berlinerkranser or “Berlin wreaths” was the first Norwegian Christmas cookie I learned how to make. I remember being confused as to why there were hard-boiled egg yolks involved, but as a young pre-teen, I chose to trust my mom. We would make them a week or so before Christmas, along with all the other cookies, and stick them in the freezer. I imagine we started with berlinerkranser first because they required more attention.
The dough, like the cookie, is very delicate. It took me a few times to figure out how to work it just right. I know folks who frustratingly roll them in balls rather than shape them into wreaths. And I do not blame them! Over the years, they sold like hotcakes at a local farmers market I participated in. I also learned that combination of hard-boiled egg yolks and raw egg yolks are the reason for the cookie’s unique texture. For a more manageable dough, I like the “Goldilocks Theory,” where the dough is chilled but not too chilled. The same goes for flour. Intuition says to add flour if rolling and shaping becomes difficult, but it actually makes things worse! You need a little “grip” for shaping.
Of course, nothing completes the berlinerkranser like Swedish pearl sugar. This is a cookie I grew up with, a cookie I make not only at Christmastime, and a cookie I look forward to teaching my daughter to make like my mom taught me.
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
2 eggs, separated
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Swedish pearl sugar (available at Scandinavian stores or in the baking aisle of well-stocked grocery stores)
- In a mixing bowl, separate the egg yolks and reserve the egg whites for baking. Add the 2 hard-boiled egg yolks to the raw yolks, and mash together until thoroughly combined.
- Add the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. On low speed, alternate the flour and butter a little at a time until it comes together as a smooth dough.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. If you choose to chill overnight, let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping.
- To shape, take a bit of dough and roll to a 5-inch length or so, and the thickness of a finger. Form each into a wreath shape with overlapping edge. Place each formed wreath on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the dough is used. If your kitchen runs warm, keep the remaining dough in the fridge to so it isn’t too difficult to work with.
- Chill the formed wreaths for 15 minutes before baking.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, beat the reserved egg whites. Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg white, and sprinkle generously with pearl sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes or until very lightly golden and the cookies are set.
- Let cool on the cookie sheets for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack. Cookies can be stored in a tin for a few days or frozen to keep longer.
But you mustn’t stop with just one kind of Christmas cookie! Browse our recipes to fill your holiday table with at least syv slags!
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 27, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.