Almond cookies for a celebration
When life calls for kransekake but you’re limited by your bakeware, these cookies fill the void
I’ve always been more of a baker than a cook, and I love any excuse to bake. What better excuse could there be than a celebration? With the approach of Syttende Mai a few weeks ago, I had a friend in need of some last minute baked treats and decided it was the perfect opportunity to come up with a cookie inspired by the kransekake. A standard at celebratory occasions, I’ve enjoyed kransekake several times (including at my own wedding), but as making the almond ring cake requires a set of molds, I’ve never tried making my own before. Someday I will, but with an international move on my horizon—I’m moving to Norway this summer—a set of kranskekake molds didn’t feel like the most useful investment at this moment in time. These cookies aren’t meant to be a substitute, but rather they’re inspired by the flavor and the spirit of the almond ring cake with its iced tiers.
The starting point for this recipe was the Mandelflarn (Norwegian Almond Cookies) from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas, but I tweaked the recipe and made several changes to suit my taste, and I’ve added icing to make the cookies a little bit more festive. You’ll want a pastry bag with a fine tip to apply the icing, but in a pinch (or if you happen to be on a student’s budget), you can squeeze the icing out of a sandwich bag with the very tip of a corner cut away.
Quality ingredients will make a huge difference for these simple cookies. Splurge on the butter, and you won’t be sorry. Otherwise, use whatever methods you like best. I like to squeeze a lemon for fresh juice for the icing, but bottled lemon juice will work just fine. I also often prefer to cream the butter and the sugar by hand with a wooden spoon if I’m not in a hurry—it’s a process I enjoy—but a hand mixer will serve you admirably if that’s your usual method. Don’t be alarmed by how much these cookies expand and flatten out as they bake, either! That means things are going well.
Norwegian almond cookies for a celebration
1/2 cup (114g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) baker’s sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup (85g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (80g) sliced almonds
1 tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. cardamom
2 cups (250g) powdered sugar
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Cover two or three baking sheets with foil, and grease (I like to use butter, since it’s already on hand, but go with whatever you like best). Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
For the cookies:
Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in the beaten egg and almond extract. Sift the flour and cardamom together, then beat flour mixture into the cookie dough until light and airy. Add the almonds and water, and stir to combine. A rubber spatula will help you keep the dough off the sides of the bowl.
You’ll want a small cup of water and an extra spoon on hand for the next step (the water will help keep the dough from sticking to the spoon and your fingers). Spoon rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet, leaving several inches of space between them. Using the extra spoon dipped in water, flatten the rounded dough balls into discs roughly two to three inches in diameter. You may want to dip the spoon and your fingers in the cup of water between cookies. Place cookies in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges have begun to turn golden brown. The cookies will have flattened out significantly.
For the icing:
While the cookies are baking/cooling, mix together the powdered sugar, egg white, and lemon juice.
Remove baking sheets from the oven and transfer cookies to a cooling rack by gently loosening them with a large spatula. Once the cookies have cooled, put the icing in a pastry bag and apply. Overlapping zig-zags do a pretty good job of evoking the tiered wreaths of the kransekake.
Makes approximately 20 cookies.
Dianna Walla is a writer and knitwear designer currently living in Seattle (soon to be Tromsø, Norway). She writes about baking at cakeandvikings.com and about knitting at paper-tiger.net. Find her on Instagram at @cakeandvikings.
This article originally appeared in the June 5, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.