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 if you’ve read a little here, you can imagine was right up my street. I considered something more familiar but instead I decided to try something new but delicious-sounding. I certainly wasn’t disappointed with these brunkager, literally ‘brown cookie’, one of a number of Danish Christmas cookies.
These brunkager get their brown color from a mixture between the spices used to flavor them and the brown sugar. 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. I opted for these Danish Christmas cookies as I love spiced flavors as well as nuts. Both are perfect in Christmas baking in my mind, as Northern European traditions confirm. You might have seen am a fan from the German hazelnut Christmas cookies and pistachio oatmeal cookies I have shared previously, as well as this stollen/German Christmas cake – all are so good.
The Danish Christmas cookie tradition
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. My parents recently visited while I had a good stock of homemade cookies, and 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 (now here!).
Slightly healthier adaptations
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 they’re made with light syrup that I don’t think is really available in the US – the closest would be corn syrup or golden syrup. Instead, 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.
How they’re made
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. Most recipes I found for brunkager made great big batches. True, these are smaller, more bite-sized, cookies compared to your more typical American ones but I have kept quantites smaller to make more sense for most people.
I admit, I am starting to see why lots of different cookies are made this time of year. These Danish Christmas cookies are certainly ones I am keeping on my regular list. Sadly my parents have gone so won’t get to try them this time. However, 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). These are, after all, definitely cookies for sharing. This batch is going to a baby shower today where I hope all will enjoy them. Though I imagine they will all go. Which means I will need to make them again soon they are so tasty. Try them and see what I mean!
Brunkager (Danish Christmas cookies)
Gently spiced and nutty, these cookies are addictively good.
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter 40g
- 2 tbsp coconut oil 26g
- 2 tbsp maple syrup 40g
- 3 tbsp brown sugar 36g
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds 25g
- 1 tbsp marmalade 22g
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour just under: 1/2 cup+3tbsp/95g plain flour
- 1/4 cup ground almonds 27g
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.
Try these other tasty cookies:
- 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