🎄⛄️Farmors Brunkager ⛄️🎄

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Today was my last working day of 2015 (yay!!!!), and tomorrow (the 23rd) is lillejuleaften, as we say in Danish – little Christmas Eve 🙂 For Danes, that’s when the Christmas celebrations really  begin. As in, we start making the food, and things get serious. Serious eating, serious drinking, serious Christmassing.

We’re spending Christmas at my parents’, who just moved house and are living in a maze of opened and unopened boxes. The kitchen came several weeks too late and is still being installed, and the Christmas tree has yet to be decorated (gasp) – so things promise to get a little bit chaotic!

But let’s worry about that tomorrow 🙂 Tonight there’s still time for me to finish my Christmas baking, which I am seriously behind on. But that’s all I have planned for tonight – baking, baking, baking! So Christmas is saved, at least on the cookie front 😉

I made brunkager last year as well and really loved them, but decided to try another recipe this year, for three reasons: whilst most recipes for these little Christmas cookies use dark syrup, last year I used light syrup. Moreover, last year’s recipe produced a very thin and melt-in-your-mouth cookie, which, although delicious, was not the classic brunkage-texture I was after. And finally, the dough was a bit finicky, and this year I’m just not having any of that. I loved them and will definitely make them again, but they were not like a ‘true’ brunkage, which is very thin, but also super crunchy, and very dark, not all that sweet (but just sweet enough).

I wasn’t going to make any this year, but then I stumbled upon a recipe by a favourite Danish dessert-blogger of mine, Anne au Chocolat, in a little e-magazine for a Danish brand, to which she’d contributed a few recipes. I took a screen shot but lost the link, which I guess doesn’t much matter, as long as the recipe is intact 🙂

What prompted me to try it is the fact that it’s super simple and quick. Moreover, ‘farmor’ means grandma, which led me to believe this would indeed produce a very traditional brunkage. And it did 🙂 Thin and crisp, dark  and ‘mollasses-y’ from the syrup, fragrant with cloves and cinnamon and studded with slivers of almond – this is a true brunkage. And really quick to make, which I think is always an plus during the December rush.

The recipe said to bake them for 8-10 minutes, but I ended up burning several batches this way, and finally settled on 5-6 minutes. My oven runs pretty hot, but it’s important not to bake these at too low a heat, or they don’t get as crispy-crunchy as they should. This is not a soft and chewy cookie. As they’re quite dark and fragrant, it’s important that they not bake for too long, they need to bake JUST until they begin to darken – and then, as soon as they’ve crisped up on the baking sheet for a few minutes out of the oven, they should be transferred to a cooling rack. Anyways, they’re quick to make, and taste like Danish Christmas to me 🙂 and my mum loves them, so I had to make them. I’ve included the quantities for cups and ounces below, but this recipe is definitely best to make using kitchen scales, as the conversion from grams doesn’t yield round numbers.

Wishing everyone a happy end of the year and a Merry Christmas, see you in 2016! 😊

❄Farmors brunkager❄
Yield: about 80 little cookies

  • 125 g butter (1.1 stick/0.55 cup), softened
  • 85 g (3 ounces/0.43 cup) sugar
  • 125 g (90 ml/2/5 cup) dark syrup
  • 200 g (1 3/5 cups) flour
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • a big pinch of salt
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) roughly chopped almonds, or store-bought almond slivers

In a big bowl, mix together the butter, sugar and dark syrup. If your butter is soft enough, a hand whisk or spatula should do.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, spices, salt and baking soda. Mix this into the butter mixture with a silicone spatula until just combined, then mix in the almond slivers or chopped almonds (although home-blanched/-chopped almonds will produce a better ‘bite’, I used store-bought ones this time, which are thin slivers, rather than chunky. Next year I might chop up some whole, blanched almonds though, I think, as I like the added texture it lends to the cookies 🙂 ).

The dough will be super sticky. On a lightly floured chopping board, and with floured hands, grab a chunk of the dough and, as swiftly as you can in order to avoid the need for more flour, roll it into a log about 3,5-4 cm (a little over an inch) wide. There shouldn’t be any flour visible. Place a piece of kitchen film on top, and wrap the dough, using the kitchen film to shape it into a nice log, patting the ends somewhat flat. Place on a clean chopping board, and repeat with the rest of the dough. You should have two or three little logs. Place in the fridge over night.

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F.

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Slice the logs thinly, about 2-3 mm, and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 5-6 minutes, keeping a close watch on the cookies during the last minute. They should begin to brown along the edges, but be careful to take them out of the oven before they get too dark.

Let them cool for a minute or two on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

As soon as they cookies have cooled completely, place them in a cookie tin (they get soft quite quickly if you leave them out too long!).

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The cookies keep for several weeks in a cookie tin, if not eaten 🙂

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Brunkager – Danish Christmas Cookies

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Adapted from: Byens bedste kager, by Rikke Gryberg

Part four of the Christmas cookie extravaganza!

These are sliiiightly finicky cakes to make – but only in that the dough is very sticky and sort of melts between your fingers as you handle it, so it’s important to keep it in the fridge at all times, when not slicing the logs into think discs of dough, right before baking. But the result is a super crispy, aromatic cookie that just melts in your mouth.

I decided to make these because they’re my mum’s favourite, and I’m glad I did, they are super yummy! Even though the original recipe calls for dark syrup, I only had light (golden) syrup, and they still turned out perfect, just slightly lighter than the traditional ‘brunkage’ (brun means brown, as in ‘brown cookie’ 🙂 ). Lots of recipes use golden syrup though, and in any case, a good amount of brown sugar ensures a nice caramel hue and flavour!

Anywho, these are well worth trying out, the dough is very easy to assemble, it’s only the rolling into logs/slicing stage that is a little time consuming, as the dough will literally start to melt between your fingers if you aren’t quick! But who cares if some of your cookies turn out a little lopsided 🙂
A cookie’s a cookie by any shape.

So, you will need:

  • 500 g (2 1/5 cups) soft butter
  • 250 g (about 2/3 cups) golden or dark syrup
  • 250 g (1 1/4 cups) dark brown sugar
  • 625 g (5 cups) flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp water
  • zest of 1/2 (untreated) lemon
  • 100 g (1 1/3 cups) blanched and sliced almonds

In a large bowl, mix the soft butter, syrup, sugar and the tsp of water. Add the lemon zest.

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Sift together the flour, baking soda and spices, and add the almonds.

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Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour has been absorbed. The dough will be super sticky; stick it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Once your dough has been chilled, flour a work top/cutting board, flour your hands and scoop out about 1/4 of the dough, pressing it into a dough ball. Sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the ball, and roll into a log. Place on a cutting board, and repeat with the remaining dough. Put back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

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Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F. Take one of your dough logs out of the fridge, and, using a very sharp knife, swiftly slice into thin slices, as thin as you can get them, and place on a cookie sheet covered in baking parchment. Put the unused dough back in the fridge before the rest of the log melts completely! 🙂

Bake for about 8 minutes until golden, but keep an eye on them! Because they’re so thin, they will burn and turn too dark very, very quickly (if you’re using dark syrup keep an even closer eye, as it’ll be trickier to see if the cookies are getting too dark).

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Pull the baking parchment with the cookies still on it onto a cooling rack. Wait until the cookies are completely cool before peeling them off the baking parchment and transferring to a cookie tin.

Yield: a lot! I still have a couple of logs in the fridge, I would guestimate 140-160 cookies.

P.s.: The little dark spots you can see in the baked cookies in between slivers of almond, are the ground cloves! I couldn’t get any that were ready-ground, so I ground them up myself, resulting in the cloves being less finely ground. I really like the effect, and also very much the aroma they give, not too strong at all, but very, very aromatic!