These are billed as “Swedish chocolate-frosted almond bars,” and they live up to their name! I never tire of recipes with almond in them, and this one was a fairly simple one involving a base/crust, an almond filling, and a chocolate drizzle on top. Ojakangas recommends using a 13 x 9 inch rectangular pan, but my Hungarian kitchen is still somewhat lacking, so I used what I had on hand – a round baking dish, probably closer to 10 or 11 inches in diameter. Whether or not this had an effect on the end result, it’s hard to say, but I would like to try this recipe again in a pan more like the one Ojakangas uses. The bars were definitely delicious, but the base came out more crumbly and the filling more gooey than I expected. I’ll probably try it out for my family at Christmas – my parents’ kitchen is sure to have the size pan the recipe calls for!
Back in March I baked a Finnish strawberry tart out of The Great Scandinavian Baking Book for my friend Phil’s birthday and managed to lose my photos of it. Between the frustration of losing photos and getting caught up in my last quarter of grad school, I didn’t bake for awhile. But now school is finished and the summertime has brought on picnics and dinners with friends galore, and I actually have time and incentive to bake again! I opted to get myself back into it by repeating one of my favorite recipes, the mandelflarn, or Norwegian almond cookies first featured here. You can rest assured I’ll give the strawberry tart another go, because it was quite delicious and it’s a great recipe for summer.
I baked the mandelflarn along with some good old chocolate chip cookies, which we served with vanilla ice cream. It made for a nice light dessert for a backyard dinner with friends.
Rest assured: you’ll be seeing more from me this summer! I’ve got lots of recipes bookmarked to try out. And since this is a repeat recipe, I thought I might share something else with you. While this video doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Scandinavian baking, it does have to do with baking, and it’s quite beautiful to boot. Check it out below:
beet cake from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.
Kringler! A Scandinavian classic. Kringler have a long history in Scandinavia, and I always associate them with Denmark. There are many varieties out there, but the common element is the twisted pretzel shape. I’m most accustomed to the type that’s like a flaky pastry and on the large side – Seattle has a few Danish bakeries that make this kind (Larsen’s Bakery, which features a kringle in their logo, and Nielsen’s Pastries are proprietors of the large pastry kringle, as seen here).
Ojakangas features a kringle recipe that is much more of a cookie – small, crumbly, and not at all in the flaky-pastry family. She calls them Danish sugar pretzels, and I have to admit this is the first recipe I’ve tried in this book that’s only so-so. The flavor of the cookies is a little bland and I think they would do better supplemented with some sort of flavor or seasoning, or even just by putting sugar in the dough (of which there is none, it’s only stuck to the top of the cookies prior to baking them). Another thing that may have contributed to them was the fact that I used whole wheat flour rather than the standard all-purpose white flour. I’ve actually used the whole wheat for the last few recipes and they’ve been fine, but this one seems to be one where it makes a difference.
Still, the cookies weren’t bad by any means, just a little below my expectations. They make a nice sweet treat and they sure are pretty to look at…
This recipe makes a lot of cookies. A lot! I used half my dough yesterday, and I got 30 cookies out of that. The recipe says it makes 48, so perhaps mine are on the small side, but either way, that’s quite a few cookies! The other half is in the fridge, waiting to be baked this weekend. My friend Eric‘s birthday was yesterday, so I baked the first half for him and handed them off last night!
Berlinerkranser are named after Berlin, for whatever reason, and they’re basically little round cookie rings made from flour, eggs, butter, and sugar. Simple and delicious, this is definitely a recipe you can add to at will to spice it up if you’d like, but I made the recipe as written and these cookies stand on their own just fine. They’re not something to make in a hurry – once you make your dough you refrigerate it from 4-8 hours (I let mine refrigerate overnight). Being a rather inexperienced baker I had a moment of mild panic when I pulled my dough out of the fridge in the morning and it was rock hard, but I let it warm up for about twenty minutes and I was able to slice pieces off and added a little bit of water to make it more workable to form the rings. They looked a bit like oversized Cheerios before being baked, or tiny donuts, which was kind of cute.
After you form your rings you dip them in egg whites and then in sugar. I got a little overzealous on my first batch and sprinkled sugar on top of them after place them on the baking sheet, which just meant that the centers filled with sugar candy crystals as they baked, but the second batch went without the extra sprinkles and thus maintained their center holes.
All in all the recipe was simple to follow, the cookies are delicious, and I’m pretty happy I’ve still got dough in the fridge to bake!
After the enormous klippekrans and the pastry-like herttaisetrinkilät, I decided I wanted to go for a cookie this time for something a little quicker and easier. Cookies don’t need yeast, they don’t require waiting around for dough to rise, and they’re small and manageable (not to mention tasty). I picked out the mandelflarn, which are Norwegian almond cookies, because they sounded delicious and looked simple.
I was happy to discover that they are quite simple indeed – the book describes them as spreading out “thin and crisp as they bake, with pale centers and crisp, golden edges.” The only thing that caught me off guard was that I had no idea just how much these cookies flattened out in the oven. I’d say the diameters of mine increased by about 2-3 inches, and they only started around 3 inches across. Alarmed at first, I worried I’d made some huge mistake in the rather short list of instructions, and had to do a Google image search. Thankfully, the internet soothed my fears by providing pages of photos of flat, crisp looking cookies, just like the ones I had baking in the oven. I waited until the edges began to brown before removing them.
After the cookies have baked, you have the option of cooling them flat or over a foil-covered dowel or other cylinder to give them a U-shape. I opted to try a few of the rounded ones and let the rest cool flat. I think I prefer the look of the cookies flat – but they taste great either way!