I know it’s been less than a week since I shared a cookie recipe which, for someone who claims to not be much of a cookie person, is kind of odd. But, ’tis the season of cookies and it seems I find it hard to pass up virtual cookie exchanges with the bloggers I have linked up with so much over the year through Sunday Supper. This time it’s an international-themed cookie exchange which for anyone who has read pretty much any other post here, you can imagine was right up my street (see more below). I considered making something I was fairly familiar with but instead decided to try something new but delicious-sounding, and I wasn’t disappointed with these brunkager, literally ‘brown cookie’, that are one of a number of Christmas cookies from Denmark. Apparently part of the reason there are so many different Danish Christmas cookies is traditionally you always have to have some to share through December and, having just had my parents visit while I had a good stock of homemade cookies I have to say I can see some of the rationale – not only are they great with the inevitable hot drinks this time of year, but having a few allows for different tastes. My mum was a big fan of my pistachio oatmeal cookies, my son liked an adaptation I made of raspberry shortbread and my husband liked another shortbread I will be sharing soon.
True, these Danish Christmas cookies are not as healthy as some of my other recipes but they taste great and for now and then, why not. I have, however, slightly adapted from recipes I found to be a little healthier without losing too much of what they are all about. Since they have almonds in them anyway, I used part almond flour, for example, and a bit of coconut oil rather than all butter. Traditionally a light syrup is used that I don’t think is really available in the US – the closest would be corn syrup or golden syrup – so I used maple syrup that’s both a little better for you and has a great flavor. Last point on ingredients, most recipes include candied peel which can be a bit tricky to find so I used marmalade instead which one recipe suggested. Brunkager get their brown color from a mixture between the spices used to flavor them and the brown sugar, and all add to the delicious flavor that you get a sense of from the smell as they cook and then enjoy as you take a bite. Then go back for another, it’s so good.
Making these cookies is a little different from some in that you melt the butter, sugar and syrup together, let them cool a bit then add the dry ingredients before making a ‘log’ with the dough and cooling completely. Some recipes would have you make the dough a few days ahead to allow the flavors to come through more. I settled for overnight, though you can certainly make the dough, slice off and bake a few and keep the rest of the dough chilled for a week or two before baking more.
I opted for these Danish Christmas cookies as I love spiced flavors as well as nuts and they are both perfect in Christmas baking in my mind (as you might have noticed in these cookies I shared previously, as well as these, and this cake). Northern European countries really go in for these flavors at this time of year which is maybe partly why I love the association but whatever the reason, they are flavors that really work and the various cookies are all so delicious. Most recipes I found for brunkager made great big batches – true they are smaller more bite-sized cookies compared to your more typical American ones but still I felt a smaller quantity made more sense for most people so I have kept quantities that bit smaller. Mind you, once you make them you may want to make a bigger batch next time they are so tasty.
I am starting to see why lots of different cookies are made this time of year, and these are certainly ones I am keeping on my regular list. Sadly my parents have gone so won’t get to try them this time, but I thought it only fair to show them with the Christmas tree my son and mum painted together (and the star stickers that fell off as they weren’t quite sticky enough for the paint) since they are definitely cookies to be enjoyed with others – this batch are going to a baby shower today instead where I hope all will enjoy them as much as I have in my taste-testing. Though I imagine they will all go which that means I will probably need to make them again soon, they are so tasty. Try them and see what I mean!
- 3tbsp/40g butter
- 2tbsp/26g coconut oil
- 2tbsp/40g maple syrup
- 3tbsp/36g brown sugar
- ¼cup/25g sliced almonds
- 1tbsp/22g marmalade
- ½tsp baking soda
- ¾tsp cinnamon
- ½tsp allspice
- ½tsp ginger
- ½cup+3tbsp/95g flour
- ¼cup/27g ground almonds
- Melt butter, coconut oil, syrup and sugar in a pan until all are melted and combined. Allow to cool until cool enough to handle.
- Add the almonds, marmalade, baking soda and spices and gradually add in the flour and ground almonds, stirring as you go, until combined.
- Tip out and kneed slightly and form into a log - it will still be a bit soft. Wrap in plastic and chill overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Re-shape the log of cookie dough if needed and cut it into thin slices and place on a lined baking sheet with some space in between to allow for a little spreading.
- Bake for around 10 minutes, watching them in the last few minutes as they can burn. They should just be starting to darken a little, look relatively dry but will still be soft to touch
- Cool on a cooling rack and store in a sealed container.
Welcome to the International Cookie Exchange hosted by Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere and Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla.
- From Chile:Tortillas and Honey– Alfajores
- From Denmark:Caroline’s Cooking– Brunkager (Danish Christmas cookies)
- From the Dominican Republic:The Petit Gourmet– Deditos de novia
- From Germany:Cosmopolitan Cornbread– Spritzgeback (Butter Cookies)
- From Greece:Tara’s Multicultural Table– Kourambiethes
- From Indonesia:Brunch with Joy– Katte Tong (Cat’s Tongue Cookies)
- From Italy: Eat Picks –Cujidatta
- From the Netherlands:Curious Cuisiniere– Dutch Speculoos Cookies
- From Poland:A Day in the Life on the Farm– Kolatczki
- From Puerto Rico:SewYou Think You Can Cook– Mantecaditos
- From Sweden:Culinary Adventures with Camilla– Sju Sorters Kakor, a Traditional Swedish Cookie Platter
- From Vietnam:I’m Not the Nanny– Vietnamese Ice Coffee Cookies