Despite the German-sounding name, “Berlinerkranser” (Berlin Wreaths) is as Norwegian as lutefisk and Jarlsberg cheese—and an important part of our cookie collection during the holidays.
Why the reference to Berlin? It is believed that a lot of Scandinavian baking traditions came from German immigrants and their bakeries/ recipes. The Germans were considered masters at their craft and hence their baked goods became integrated into the Norwegian (and Swedish and Danish) food repertoire. Reversely, many Scandinavians went to Germany to learn the trade there. Regardless of the actual facts, there is definitely a connection between Germany and Scandinavia! I was able to trace back recipes for Berlinerkranser as far as 1903 for these cookies—so it’s safe to say they’ve had a relatively long history in Norway.
Image from tinepartner.no
Berlinerkranser is considered as one of the “seven” in the traditional cookie round-up for Christmas, with its rich aromatic taste, and they are many people’s favorite. The baking of these can prove to be quite the test, but the result will be the most delicious Christmas cookies—I promise!
These buttery, wreath shaped cookies are easy to make and can be made ahead of time and frozen until ready to enjoy, so there is no need to stress minutes before—you can bake these whenever you have the time.
BERLINERKRANSER (Berlin Wreath)
Makes about 30 cookies
*2 cooked egg yolks (see below for the recipe to replicate animal-free egg yolks)
2 raw egg yolks or substitute 1/2 cup applesauce
125 grams or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
250 grams or 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
about 300 grams or 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Egg white (or substitute nut-based milk) and pearl sugar for decoration
Preheat oven at 350°F (175°C). Prepare cookie sheets by coating them with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
In a bowl, mash the cooked egg yolks well. In a stand mixer, whisk the raw egg yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Combine with the mashed cooked egg yolks. Add the butter and flour and lightly work into a dough.
Don’t mix too much, as the dough can become difficult to handle. Let the dough rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
Remove the dough from the fridge about 1/2 hour before rolling out. Roll into about 6-inch links and shape them into wreaths. The temperature of the dough is important here. If it’s too cold it may not be pliable enough to form it into the circle or if it is too warm, the link may break. This may take a few turns—but don’t despair!!
Brush the cookies with the egg white or plant-based milk and dip them in pearl sugar. Place them on baking sheets about 2 inches apart (they will expand) and bake them on the middle rack of the oven for about 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.
Cool on a rack and keep the cookies in a cookie jar or freeze.
* How to make vegan egg yolks:
1 lb. extra firm tofu (but I’d wager any kind would work just fine)
4 T Vegenaise (as a general rule, I loathe Vegenaise and Nayonaise and all that crap, but they work for this recipe. If you want to concoct something out of almonds or cashews, I’m sure it will be great too.)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp mustard
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
¾ tsp black salt
1 tsp turmeric
Put all ingredients in the food processor. Whip until smooth.
Image from matprat.no