died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Friday, November 25, 2005


Thanksgiving, over here, is not a holiday. We don't get two days off, there's not huge meal, no organizing of extended family.

I still have managed to celebrate thanksgiving thanks to a friend of a former roommate of mine. Every year she organizes the expats (or in my case 'local-hire) in the area that she knows, and makes a great feast of, outside of the essential thanksgiving staples, carrot soup, bruschetta, and a cheese plate that I probably consume more than half of every year.Last year, I invited most of the attendees over for a little cooking party of my own. We had been talking about jerk spice, and a few of the people had either not heard of it or never tried it(this is japan, after all). That as a base, we spent most of a later organized december day cooking and eating.

But the night before I got a little itch. It was december, and it got me thinking about, what else but christmas. Being half scandanavian, my family, at least at christmas anyway, was pretty die hard about celebrating our culinary heritage, and one of the staples of every christmas was christmas cookies, consisting of three types. One was berlinerkranser, a kind of pretzel-shaped butter cookie sprinkled with pearl sugar. The most popular is krumkake, a thin rolled cookie in crepe-ish form sprinkled with powdered sugar. The final one is sandbakelser, another butter cookie that is pressed into a special sandbakelser tin and baked.

A few years ago, I was hosting a scandanavian culture booth at an international festival in the prefecture I was living in. They wanted each booth to present a cooking class, and as I was thinking about what I could make, these three cookies came to mind. berlinerkranser required special pearl sugar which I couldn't find where I was living. Krumkake require a special baking iron, each costing about $50, that I would need several of if I was to do a cooking class. Sandbakelser were the ones I chose as the easiest to make.

The cookies are extremely easy to make.I used to make these cookies with 4 year olds, disabled childeren and even the elderly. Once the dough is made, you simply press the dough into the special tins (although I often used other molds as they were avaliable) and bake them. Because the dough itself already has so much butter/shortening in it, greasing isn't necessary; in fact the cookies just fall right out. The key to making good sandbakelser is to press the dough THIN.

So I made some of these cookies for my little party ahead of time. When everyone showed up, the whole batch was devoured within a few hours.

These cookies, along with the other two, are the epitome of christmas to me. The taste of the dough, the smell as they bake, remind me of every christmas growing up. My mother, my aunt, and my grandmother always used to make huge batches of each of these cookies. By the time mid-january came around we were all so sick of them, we just wanted to throw them in the trash. But every year in early december, you would get equally excited for your first sandbakelser.


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp almond(or vanilla)

Prehead oven to 180C (350F) and mix the ingredients in the above order in a large bowl. Continue to add flour until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl (about 2 cups) and becomes a large ball. Pinch off a piece of dough and press into sandbakelser tin until very thin, letting excess dough fall into the bowl. Bake until cookies just start to change from white to light brown (about 8 minutes). Cool until the tins are managable with bare hands. Turn the tin upside down to remove cooke, tapping lightly if necessary. be sure to wipe the tin , including all the grooves, lightly with a dry cloth if reusing the tin with the same batch to prevent cookies from sticking.


At 11:19 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Those sound really tasty! Happy post-thanksgiving!


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