By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook
What's special about Norwegian Christmas cookies?
They look like ordinary sugar cookies at first blush. But one bite is all you need to tell the difference: These cookies are chewy and full of almond, coconut and oats.
What? You say you've never heard of oats in Christmas cookies?
Our food appreciation classes have started their annual baking segment and with Christmas just around the corner I decided to lead off with these cookies so we could serve them at tonight's parents night dinner, which features a buffet of all the Scandinavian food we've been making lately.
As simple as the cookies look, they do require quite a bit of elbow grease if you're making them by hand. They're much easier if you're using an electric mixer. But in our classes, the mixer consists of a wooden spoon and kid muscle.
Start by placing 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted room-temperature butter in a large mixing bowl, alongwith 1 cup sugar and 7 ounces almond paste, grated. For the almond paste, we used the Odense brand, which comes wrapped in foil looking like a small sausage. It's somewhat soft, so grating it on a box grater takes a bit of work--great if your trying to keep a group of kids busy.
Mix until the ingredients are combined, then add 1 egg plus 1 egg white and beat on high for 3 minute. Picture a group of third-graders armed with a wooden spoon, imitating an electric mixer turned to "high."
Meanwhile, sift 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add this, plus 1 cup rolled oats and 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes. Mix until well combined, then form into balls and place on greased cookie sheets.
To make balls out of the dough, we used a 1-inch metal scoop with a wire release. If you have one a little larger, so much the better. It all depends on how big you want your cookies (or what kind of scoop you have on hand). I suppose you could do this with a spoon if you didn't have a scoop with a wire release. Once the balls are on the cookie sheets, you want to pat them down a little, either with the palm of your hand, or using the flat end of a glass moistened and dusted with granulated sugar.
We then decorated our cookies alternately with red and green sugar sprinkles. Place them in a 350-degree oven and bake just until they begin to show a little brown around the edges, or 10-11 minutes. An inverted metal spatula works best to remove the cookies from the pan and place them on wire racks to cool.
Merry Christmas from Norway!