I haven’t counted how many different butter cookies there are in Scandinavia, but there are hundreds and hundreds of different varieties and regional specialities. These particular biscuits are probably better known around the world than many others, as they are often sold in tins decorated with scenes of Copenhagen and labelled ‘Danish Butter Cookies’. I quite like these little kringle-shaped ones because the addition of cream to the mixture makes the pastry a little flaky. Note that in Sweden, the similar word sockerkringlor can also refer to a more bready variety – there are several versions of these that vary regionally.
My grandmother Erna used to make these delicious buttery cookies. From end of November and beginning of December, her kitchen was filled with the smell of vanilla and cinnamon – and many tins were filled with treats. There was nothing nicer than when she’d pop over to see my Mum and bring a tin full of her home-baked goodies. No store bought cookie or treat can beat a gift, baked with love.
MAKES APPROX 30
250g plus 2 tablespoons butter
375g cups plain all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
150g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
3–4 tablespoons double cream
egg white, lightly beaten, for brushing
sanding, pearl or demerara/turbinado sugar, to decorate
1. Mix the butter and flour together to form crumbs. Add the sugar and mix, then work in the egg yolk and, finally, the cream. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. Don’t overwork the dough too much. Leave it to rest in a plastic bag in the fridge for at least an hour until cold.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll pieces of around 20–25g into thin ‘sausage’ shapes about 20cm long, then form each into a pretzel shape and place on the lined baking sheets (the biscuits will spread out during cooking, so make sure there is space between them). Repeat until all the dough is used.
4. Brush with egg white and top with the sugar, then bake in the preheated oven for 8–10 minutes until just baked through (don’t allow them to brown too much). Leave to cool before storing in an airtight container.
I use pearl or crystal sugar to decorate these, but you can use finely chopped nuts or demerara/turbinado sugar if you prefer. Sanding or crystal sugar is a bigger cut than demerara – you can buy it in some supermarkets and online. Alternatively, use pearl or nibbed sugar, or, indeed, demerara. I use pearl sugar, but bash it a bit first to break up the biggest lumps. You can also flavour them – a dash of vanilla, cardamom or ginger will spice them up.
Recipe from ScandiKitchen Christmas: Recipes and traditions from Scandinavia by Brontë Aurell