Have you ever wondered what exactly the origins of Christmas cookies are? And perhaps, even more specifically, the traditional Norwegian Christmas cookies?
Many of the cookies we bake today weren’t even Christmas cookies originally.
By the 19th century, ovens were commonplace in almost every household in Norway. This is also when cookbooks were written and published for the general masses, the term “Christmas cookie” was originated and the list of which cookies to bake for the holidays was formed and started to look like the ones we have today.
The Christmas cookies we have today can be divided into three categories:
The oldest cookies we know are the “iron” cookies. They are baked in different irons, like goro and krumkaker. It’s unclear how long these irons have been used in Norway, but in Europe we can trace it back to the 15th century.
Another form of cookies are the “smult”, or lard, cookies, like smultringer and fattigmann. Lard cookies most likely stem all the way back to the Middle Ages. Fattigmann arrived in Norway and the end of the 18th century, or beginning of the 19th century. The name is misleading, (fattigmann translates to “poor man”) because the ingredients to bake the cookie were both expensive and exclusive.
The last type of cookies are the ones that require an oven to bake them. Pepperkaker, sirupssnipper, berlinerkranser and sandkaker are in this category, and they arrived in Norway around the 17th century. Before ovens were commonplace in people’s homes, these kind of cookies had to be bought in bakeries or were made on farms that had big ovens.
Today I wanted to give you my family recipe for sirupssnipper, which of course, I’ve veganized. They are a unique looking triangular shaped cookie that uses a specific pastry wheels to arrive at the jagged edges. Of course, no self-respecting Norwegian Christmas cookie is without an almond, which is placed whole in the center.
Sirupssnipper was a staple in my childhood home in Norway growing up, my mom always had dozens and dozens of them, and they were always part of the multi-layered cookie tray. This is also the first time I’ve covered them on my blog, so I’m excited to bring you my version!
Happy baking and as always, let me know what you think if you decide to give them a try!
1 1/4 cup (250 g) sugar
2 sticks (200 grams) vegan butter
2 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 6 tbsp water (2 flax ‘eggs’)
1 cup (250 g) light syrup
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/4 tsp baking soda (or if you have “hjortetakk salt add 1/4 tsp of that plus 1 tsp baking soda)
about 1 lbs (500 grams) flour
a scant cup (100 grams) blanched almonds
a little non-dairy milk for brushing the cookies
Whisk the sugar and vegan butter until light and fluffy in a standmixer. Add the flax eggs.
In a small pot, gently heat up the syrup, mix in the spices and add to the sugar-butter mixture and fold in. Finally, add in the baking soda and flour until you have a firm dough. Cover the dough and place in fridge for several hours, preferably overnight.
Prepare a couple of cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper or lightly oiled.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius).
Roll out the dough until it’s about 1/2 inch thin. Using a ruler and a ribbed pastry wheel, cut out cookies into triangles, about 2 1/2 ” x 2 1/2″ (5x5cm) in size. In Norway you have a special cookie cutter called trinsle that cuts on these triangles for you:
Place a blanched almond in the center of each cookie and brush them with a little non dairy milk:
Bake the cookies in the oven for 5 minutes. The cookies will keep about a week in an airtight container preferably made of metal and stored in a cool, dark place.