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Vaniljekranse

Vaniljekranse

Vaniljekranse is a traditional Danish cookie made in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  I have very fond memories of helping my Mom and Dad make vaniljekranse when I was a little girl. It’s a fun process of the dough coming out of the grinder into strips, cutting the strips into pieces and forming them into circles. The cookies have a sweet vanilla flavor and are slightly crunchy on the outside. Making Vaniljekranse makes for wonderful Danish family “hygge” (coziness).

Vaniljekranse are not difficult to make, however, it took some doing to actually make it happen. The reason being, that in Denmark there is an attachment to your meat grinder that has a star shape on it. So the dough is run through the meat grinder with the star attachment. I could probably just have used a pastry bag with a star tip, I tried it, but it takes a lot of muscle to get the dough out. The other option would be to use a cookie press and you can get some sort of circle pattern, but I really wanted to show the making of this cookie the authentic way.

Vaniljekranse

Vaniljekranse

So I described the attachment to my wonderful husband Joe, he looked at the thickness of the meat grinder discs, and him being a Blacksmith and all, he was able to fabricate the disc for me…Yeah! My wonderful husband is so brilliant, I think I’ll keep him  🙂  He helped me make this cookie the authentic way. Thanks Joe.

Update: I have since then been able to buy a star attachment in Bilka in Denmark while we were home for a visit, it fits my KitchenAid mixer perfectly.

Star attachment for KitchenAid

Star attachment for KitchenAid

Star attachment for KitchenAid

Star attachment for KitchenAid

Vaniljekranse

Ingredients:

375 grams flour (13 oz)

125 grams cornstarch (4.4 oz)

375 grams salted butter (13 oz)

100 grams slivered almonds (3.5 oz)

250 grams sugar (8.8 oz)

1 vanilla bean

2 teaspoon vanilla powder

1 egg

Directions:

Place slivered almonds in food processor and blend until a powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl add flour and cornstarch, blend together. Cut butter into small pieces, add butter to flour mixture and blend together on low-speed with a handheld mixer until it starts to become crumbly. Cut open vanilla bean and scrape out seeds. Add vanilla seeds, vanilla powder, almonds and sugar, blend to combine. Add egg and mix to combine. Using your hands, press mixture together until it forms a dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 390 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using the star attachment for your meat grinder, pastry bag or cookie press to form your cookies. Traditionally, you will use a star attachment for your meat grinder. Cut dough into small segments and load into the meat grinder. Run the dough through the star attachment into long strips, place dough onto floured surface. Then cut dough into 4 inch long pieces and form into circle. Place on prepared baking sheets.  Bake in the middle of oven for 8 minutes or until slightly golden. Cool on baking sheets.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Ground up slivered almonds

Dough coming out of grinder

Strips of dough

Vaniljekranse

Source: adapted from my Mother’s recipe

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Coconut Macaroon

Coconut Macaroon

Coconut Macaroons are one of Joe’s absolute favorite cookies and I am right there with him. They are simply delicious! Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside and they could not be any easier to make. If you like, you can dip the bottom of the cookies in melted chocolate. I do half and half since Joe likes the addition of the chocolate, I however, thinks it takes away from the coconut flavor. Coconut Macaroons do not belong exclusively to Christmas time but they are likely to show up in our house anytime of the year. If you enjoy coconut then I’m sure you’ll love these wonderful little treats.

Coconut Macaroon

Coconut Macaroon

Danish Christmas Tradition: Kalenderlyset (Calendar Candle) and Juledekorationer (Christmas Center Pieces)

In addition to the Advent Reef, in Denmark we also have Calendar Candles which play in important role in the days leading up to Christmas. This tradition became popular under the German occupation in 1942 when Denmark was blanketed in darkness. The candle has the numbers 1 thru 24 printed on it and you light it every day just long enough to burn down one number. Once the candle is burned down to the 24th, it’s Christmas. Back home in Denmark, we would light our calendar candle at the breakfast table and one of us kids got to blow out the candle before it burned down too far.

In Denmark it is also tradition to either buy or make Juledekorationer which are centerpieces with one or multiple candles. My parents always made our own and my Dad really got carried away with this task. We would typically end up with three or four beautiful juledekorationer placed at different locations throughout the house. When making the juledekorationer you can pretty much let your imagination run wild. You can use items like pine cones, cinnamon sticks, small christmas bulbs, bows and fresh greens (pine, holly etc). The juledekoration with its candles bring a calming, beautiful focal point into the room and a sense of that all important Danish “Hygge” (coziness) is created.

This juledecoration was given to me by my Danish friend Kaja

Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups (9 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut

Direction:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an insulated baking sheet (or use 2 baking sheets stacked on top of one another).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, flour and vanilla extract until well blended. Stir in coconut.

Using a 1-tablespoon measuring spoon,  drop the dough into mounds on prepared sheet, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 14-16 minutes, until they are golden brown around the edges and a few strands of coconut on the tops of the cookie start to turn golden. Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Once the cookies are cooled completely, you can dip the bottom of the cookie in melted chocolate, if you desire.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Cookies are best on the day they are made.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Piled like a haystack

Right out of the oven Coconut Macaroon

Source: The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle

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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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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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