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Archive for the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ Category

Danish Pebernødder

Danish Pebernødder

Pebernødder is a natural part of Christmas in Denmark and there is almost always a small bowl of Pebernødder accompanying the afternoon or evening coffee/tea time. Pebernødder may also be found in decorative paper cones (kræmmerhuse) which are hung on the Christmas tree and pebernødder are also used in Childrens games. Although Pebernødder can be found in practically any store in Denmark, it’s really a fun activity to bake them at home, espically if you have younger children in your household. Baking with your children at Christmas time is an activity that brings closeness and hygge into the home (“hygge” danish word meaning coziness, togetherness, warmth). Kids love rolling the dough into long rolls and cutting them up into bite size pieces, not to mention the added benefit of getting first dips on tasting the cookies once out of the oven. Baking was one of my favorite activities with my parents when I was growing up and they are memories I’ll treasure forever.

Pebernødder is thought to be the oldest Christmas cookie in Denmark and it came, like so many things, from Germany (Pfeffernussen). Directly translated Pebernødder means pepper nuts. In the old days “to pepper” meant to season and they were reffered to as nuts because there was no baking soda back then and so the cookies were hard like nuts. Todays Pebernødder is not hard like nuts but rather crunchy and mildly spicy. Some Pebernødder recipes will have a small amount of white pepper in them, just enough to leave a warm sensation on your tongue, this one does not. This particular recipe is a little milder with a warm cardamom flavor.

Pebbernødder hygge

Pebernødder dough

Pebernødder

Ingredients:

80 gram salted butter (6 tablespoons)

225 gram sugar (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon)

1 egg

1 deciliter whipping cream (1/2 cup)

350 gram flour (3 cups) (add more flour if needed to bring dough together)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions:

Preheat oven to 225 degrees C (400 degrees F). Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cardomom and set aside.

In your mixer using the paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add egg and mix. Then add whipping cream and mix. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Remove dough from mixing bowl onto a floured surface. Using your hands bring dough together, adding a little more flour if needed until it holds together and forms a ball. Divide dough into smaller pieces and roll into long rolls measuring the width of your fingers. Cut into 1 1/2 centimeter pieces. Place on baking sheets about 1 inch apart and bake for approximately 12 minutes until just turning golden.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Pebbernødder Christmas parade

Source: Faster Philip

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Sparkling Linzer Stars

Sparkling Linzer Stars

I first saw the Sparkling Linzer Star recipe in Better Homes and Gardens magazine many years ago. The cookies are so festive and Christmasy and the process of assembling them is a lot of fun.  The recipe calls for both regular flour and whole wheat flour which makes it a little healthier, but I suppose you could just use all-purpose flour if you’re not into that sort of thing. Make sure to use a generous portion of seedless raspberry jam to increase the “delish” factor.

Flettede julestjerne

Danish Christmas Tradition: Juletræet (The Christmas Tree)

The Christmas Tree tradition has very old roots dating back to at least St. Boniface of Geismar, Germany. There are so many variations of this tradition depending on where in the world your located. In Danmark it’s tradition to put up and decorate the tree on Dec 23rd, although a lot of people now wish to put the tree up earlier. My parents would decorate the tree in the evening of the 23rd (little Christmas Eve) after my siblings and I were sent off to bed. The excitement was so intense that I could barely sleep and waking up to see the beautiful tree the following morning was almost magical. Old tradition for the Danish Christmas Tree is to decorate it with live candles, small Danish flags on a string, the children’s homemade braided paper hearts (flettede hjerter), paper cones (kræmmerhuse), braided stars (flettede stjerner) and some glass bulbs. Christmas in Denmark is celebrated on the eve of Dec 24th. The day of the 24th is spent waiting in anticipation, snacking on fruits, nuts and candy. A light but extra delicious lunch. Family oriented Christmas programs are on TV to help pass the time and finally after a spectacular dinner the time has come. It is time to form a circle around the tree, holding hands and sing Christmas hymns and Christmas songs while dancing around the Christmas tree. The tradition of dancing around the Christmas tree dates back to approximately 1830’s and it’s a tradition seen in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. After everyone has lost their breath from singing and dancing it is finally time to open the presents. And so you see, the glorious Christmas tree plays quite an important role to help create Danish Christmas Hygge.

Sparkling Linzer Stars Ingredients

Sparkling Linzer Stars

Ingredients:

1-1/3 cups butter

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

powdered sugar (optional)

Star cutouts

Centers cut out

Seedless Raspberry jam

Directions:

Beat butter in a large bowl on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Beat until combined. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until well combined. Beat in as much of both kinds of flour as you can, stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill for 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll each portion of dough on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Cut into shapes using star cutters (I used a 4 inch and a 1-1/4 inch). Transfer 4 inch cutout cookie dough to prepared cookie sheets. Using the smaller 1-1/4 inch cookie cutter, cut out center from half of the unbaked cookies; remove centers and reroll dough to make more cookies.

Bake in preheated oven for 7-9 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very light brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, cool.

Spread the bottom of each solid cookie with a generous amount of raspberry jam. If desired, sift powdered sugar over the cookies with the cutout centers and place atop cookies with raspberry jam, sugar side up. Store in covered container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Linzer Stars

Linzer Stars

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

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Danish Fedtebrød cookies

Danish Fedtebrød cookies

To me, Christmas time is the best time a year. It is filled with joy, excitement and what the Danes call “Hygge”. Hygge is a cozy, happy and relaxed atmosphere. Live candles are an important part of creating Hygge and Christmas time is filled with candles. Some of my fondest childhood memories are from the days leading up to Christmas Eve. Being in the kitchen with my mom and dad baking cookies. Yes you heard me right, my dad always took as much a part of baking and cooking as my mother and they are both excellent in the kitchen. They would bake about 4 or 5 different types of cookies and I would do my best to get in the way to help them. Fedtebrød is one of those cookies which bring me back to Christmas in Denmark. It is a soft coconut cookie with a mild rum glaze on top.

Advent reef

Danish Christmas Tradition: Adventskransen  (Advent Reef)

The Advent Reef is a round reef typically decorated with pine, pine cones, red berries etc and four candles. It is either free standing or hung with ribbons and the colors are typically a red and white combination. The first candle is lit on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, then the first and seconds candle is lit on the third Sunday before Christmas and so on, until all four Candles are lit on the last Sunday before Christmas. I should mention that Christmas is celebrated in Denmark on the Eve of December 24th. The Advent Reef has been a tradition in almost all Danish homes since the 1930’s and it’s a celebration of what is coming at Christmas, that being the Birth of the Jesus Child. Whether you are a religious person or not, it’s a beautiful tradition to make the reef and lighting the candles every Sunday in anticipation of Christmas. It brings a sense of joy, Hygge and excitement into those hectic days.

Fedtebrød Ingredients

Fedtebrød Cookies

Ingredients:

For cookie dough:

125 gram flour (1 cup 2 tablespoons)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

125 gram butter (9 tablespoons) cut into small pieces

65 gram sweetened coconut (3/4 cup loosely packed)

65 gram sugar (5 tablespoon)

For glaze:

100 gram powdered sugar (1 cup)

2 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon rum

1 teaspoon flour

Roll dough into cylinder

Roll dough into a rectangle

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C ( 392 degrees F ) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place flour, baking powder, butter, coconut and sugar in a medium bowl and mix with a hand-held mixer. The mixture will be crumbly. Dust flour on working surface and on your hands. Then press mixture together using your hands until it forms a ball of dough. Divide dough into three balls of dough. Using your hands, form ball of dough into long rolls approx 9 x 1 inch long. Place on floured surface and using your rolling-pin gently roll dough into a 12 x 2 1/2 – 3 inch rectangle. Move the dough (with the help of a spatula) onto prepared baking sheet and using your hands and spatula press dough edges to make a more uniform edge. Repeat with two remaining dough balls.

Bake until golden brown, approx 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 4-5 minutes. While cookies are cooling, mix glaze together. While cookies are still warm, spread the glaze over cookies. Cool for another 4-5 minutes and then cut cookies diagonally. Complete cooling on baking sheet.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Put glaze on while still warm

Cut diagonally

Source: adapted from my Mother’s recipe

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