Dispatch from Norway: Christmas Cookies

It's 3pm and night is falling here in snowy Kongsberg, Norway. This former silver mining town is home to the Norwegian mint, and also to Norway's oldest and largest baroque church, inaugurated in 1761 and seating 2400. The bridge over the river Numedalslågen (which could have been the filming location for It's a Wonderful Life) divides the town in two halves - old and new. The new side has the train station and a tiny shopping mall. The old side has the church and Cafe Lotte. 

I've only been here a few days, but already Cafe Lotte is my favorite place in town.  My general obsession, along with the fact that food costs twice what it does at home means I've been trying to find the places that seem to care about the food they serve. And Cafe Lotte's food is homemade and yummy.  Witness their lovely selection of homemade traditional julekaker, many of which I purchased on an important research mission.   

Yes, I'm putting that plate of cookies over on the left under the heading of research. Since I missed the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers cookie exchange (sniff), I have been feeling sorry for myself in a way that cookie research can only partially make up for.  Luckily, Norwegians seem to adore their Christmas cookies as much as we do at home, although judging from what I've seen I would say the varieties are fewer and more traditional than ours.  Wikipedia says that in Norway: 

"A large variety of desserts, julekaker (Lit. "Yule cakes") exist. Traditionally, the mother of the house is expected to bake 7 types of julekaker. These are different for each county as well as the individual household traditions, but the most common are pepperkaker (ginger snaps), decorated with icing sugar frosting and can be used both for hanging up in windows or the Christmas tree. It is also a dear tradition to make a miniature scale house of gingerbread and decorate with candy and use indoors quite similar to a Jack-O-Lantern. Others are smultringer (doughnuts), sirupssnipper (lit. "treacle snaps"), sandkaker (lit. sandcakes), lefsekling (griddle cake) filled with an icing of butter, sugar and cinnamon. Also are krumkaker (lit. "Curl cakes") and Brune Pinner (lit. "Brown Sticks") sugar cookies. Many other types of Yule Cakes are varieted from sugar cookie dough."

The plate above carries Cafe Lotte's favorites. Starting from the pink one on the left they are: 

- Pikekyss (meaning "girl's kiss" according to the nice lady at Cafe Lotte, a pink meringue)
- Brune Pinner (the brown square,  aka "brown sticks," with almonds on top ) 
- Pepperkaker (the angel cutout, made with pepper and molasses)
- Krumkaker ("cone" cakes says Lotte's nice lady - she likes this filled with whipped cream - aka multe - and yellow cloudberries)
- Peppernøtter (the round one on the right, spicy and hard, I just about broke a tooth on one. Dipped in coffee is the correct way to eat it.)

After enjoying a bit of, um, waffle research at Cafe Lotte (best waffle I've had in a restaurant, with homemade strawberry jam and creme fraiche),  I packaged up the cookies to share with B. tonight.  And then went and bought a krumkaker tool to make the little cones when I get home. 

3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup melted and cooled butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour

Beat eggs with sugar until light. Add cold water, cooled butter, vanilla, and flour. Stir until smooth.

Brush the krumkake iron lightly with melted butter. Heat the krumkake iron on the range-top on medium high heat.

Pour a generous tablespoon of batter on the iron. Brown on one side, and flip the iron over to brown the other side. When the krumkake is evenly browned, quickly roll it into a cylinder shape and place on paper toweling until cool. I just use a knife to roll the krumkake, but a cylinder-shaped tool is usually included with a krumkake set.

These can be filled with whipping cream or just left plain. I usually serve mine plain.
Makes approximately 38.

Don’t be concerned if they crumble when you eat them - that is exactly what they are supposed to do! To keep them crisp, store them in an airtight container.

You can find krumkake irons at Amazon.com. 

NB: The lady at the kitchen store where I bought my krumkaker cone-maker said that a non-stick pan would work for cooking the krumkaker as well. I'm planning to try this. 

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