Norwegian Christmas cookies galore: bordstabelbakkels, krumkaker, strull and brune pinner. The last one translates as “brown sticks”, and they are really easy to make. My grandmother always made them and I have her recipe, but they still do not taste quite like hers. Every year my sister and I tweak the recipe to see if we can get closer to what we remember: a dark, crispy cookie with a hint of caramel and a lot of cinnamon. This year I doubled the treacle, which helped the flavour but made the first batch a little soft. Or maybe they were too thick? They need to be very crisp.
We should have seven kinds of Christmas cookies, but socializing is limited this year, and we do have biscotti and IKEA gingerbread cookies too. Plus four (!) different kinds of fruitcake to try, as my friends all have been baking. Now we are exchanging samples and comparing the results. An Australian glutenfree boiled whiskey fruitcake, a Canadian fruitcake, a fruitcake fed with brandy, plus my mother’s fruitcake. All delicious in different ways. But here, a simple cookie.
- 200 gr soft butter
- 200 gr sugar (I used brown sugar, but dark muscovado would be better)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbs treacle
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp hartshorn salt (or baking soda)
- 330 gr white flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- To top: 1 beaten egg for eggwash, plus some chopped almonds, pearl sugar and coconut flakes
Note: Modern recipes often use golden syrup but dark syrup (like molasses or treacle) is better for the right flavour. This year I doubled the treacle, which helped the flavour but made the first batch a little soft. Or maybe they were too thick? They need to be very crisp.
Chill the dough for at least a couple hours before baking. Divide the dough into six sausages, and roll them out medium thinly on a baking tray with baking parchment. Too thin, and they are hard to handle, but too thick and they will not be crisp. Brush a stripe of beaten egg down the middle, and sprinkle with a mix of chopped almonds, coconut or pearl sugar.
Bake 10-12 minutes at 170C until baked but not burnt. Last year my notes say 10-20 minutes at 200C, so see what works for you. As soon as they come out, slice each length diagonally with a sharp knife to make individual cookies, and leave to cool before breaking apart. Best to taste-check the ends at once just in case 🙂 as the house will now smell amazing. Store in an airtight box.
You might prefer them with just 1 tbs of light syrup, or less cinnamon.
For a little glimpse of Garbatella on a sunnier day: Fontana della Carlotta e Scala degli Innamorati.