Krumkaker: the 1000-year-old cookie
A family recipe going back generations continues to light up the Christmas season
December is without doubt my favorite month of the year. Not only is it my birth month, but the festive spirits that go along with both birthdays and Christmas make this a more carefree time where we can allow ourselves a little extra. It is also the month when I become the most homesick for Norway, as I believe nobody in the world knows how to celebrate Christmas and keep old traditions intact like Norwegians. This is when we fully embrace spending time with our loved ones, showing why they are special to us not only through presents, but through wonderful food, drink, and fun days and evenings where we all do something a little out of the ordinary and forget about everyday worries and routines.
In this article I wanted to include a recipe for one of the most classic cookies in the Norwegian repertoire: krumkaker. These cone-shaped, thin, slightly sweet, buttery, and crispy cookies are not only beautiful to look at but also delicious and light (depending on what you fill them with, perhaps not the latter!), and an important part of Norway’s baking history.
I have done some research on the history of Norwegian cookies. Many of the traditional Norwegian Christmas cookies may have had their origins from other countries, and they didn’t start out as cookies specifically for this holiday season. It was first in the 19th century that the term “Christmas cookies” was formed, which happened to be the same time ovens became something of a common household appliance. Cookies were divided into three categories: those that were baked in an iron, those that were deep fried in lard, and those that contained yeast or baking powder and were baked in the oven. Of these, cookies that were baked in irons have the longest tradition in Norway. They can be traced back at least for a thousand years, and most of them had a round shape.
Krumkaker, as well as goro (another old classic cookie in Norway) are variations of waffles, and are known for their very ornate and pretty patterns due to the special irons they are baked in. Each iron can have a different pattern based on where in Norway you are and what traditions each family has, and they can be old fashioned (many Norwegian families have had them in their family for generations) or more modern in style.
A small tablespoon or less of batter is dropped in the middle of the iron, then baked rapidly as they are super thin, lifted off the iron and rolled around a special krumkake pin right away while warm, soft, and pliable to shape them into pretty cones.
My mother has been bragging her whole life about how her krumkake recipe is the best, so I naturally wanted to share it as it is the one I grew up eating. She inherited this recipe from her grandmother, who in turn inherited it from her grandmother. I am not sure how old it is—old enough to be a truly special recipe that I am happy to be in possession of! I have made one alteration to the recipe to make it plant-based—I eliminated the two eggs originally in it—but you can always include them and whisk them in with the butter and sugar.
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup potato starch
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup water
2 tsps. ground cardamom
Whisk the sugar into the butter and fold in the remaining ingredients. Let sit for about 30 minutes before baking according to your krumkake iron’s instructions.
Typically your iron comes with a cone-shaped stick to roll the flat cakes around—it’s important to do this right after you lift the cookies off the iron, before they cool and stiffen.
Fill the krumkaker with your favorite filling—whipped cream, cloudberry jam (yes, I know that can be hard to find in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world), or a chocolate whipped cream with fresh berries. So delicious!
Sunny Gandara has over 15 years experience in marketing and PR, both in the music and beverage industry. In 2008 she founded her own company, Fork and Glass, a food and wine event and consulting company, located in the Hudson Valley of New York. She now focuses on education, giving seminars and classes to private and corporate groups. Sunny, a native of Norway, is a professionally trained cook and holds a diploma in Wines & Spirits from the WSET.
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 18, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.