Danish Butter Cookies
I’ve been trying to post this favorite Christmas cookie recipe for about a week and a half. One thing after another has distracted me. This is the way things go on a ranch or farm. Ranch work always takes precedent. So, if you have a huge rain storm headed your way, as we recently had, you must prepare so you don’t find yourself, for example, taking the animals to higher ground in the middle of the night or some annoying thing.
Our lake spillway. From nothing to Niagara in 24 hours.
So the rainstorm happened in all its magnificence and we all survived including suffering the power outage. The predicted high winds never materialized. If we had had wind I’m sure we would still be out there putting tin back on the barn roof. We have an old barn. A big one. And it’s wonderful but old and the tin is prone to blowing off. We never know which piece will come off or where and we want to go up there as little as possible because it’s steep and dangerous. So we dodged that bullet which is why you find me now working on this wonderful recipe. Finally! It is authentic and it, too, comes by way of my friend Andrea Hjelskov, a Danish writer who lives in Sweden.
Danish Butter Cookies
This recipe comes in gram measurement. I am lucky enough to have digital scale that converts to grams so I was able to take Andrea’s recipe and use the measurements verbatim. Please note that all measurements are close but not exact. Isn’t cooking an art not a science? After cooking all my life I rarely find myself scrupulously measuring ingredients. I’ve included some observations to help you through.
250 grams butter
200 grams sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (Andrea does not use this. I do.)
100 grams pulverized almonds
250 to 300 grams all-purpose flour (the amount of flour is dependent on the size of your egg; next time I think I will add all 300 grams and have a stiffer dough to work with. My eggs are large. It’s up to you.)
Cut up the butter, cover it with sugar.
Then using a pastry blender or your hands blend it all together.
Blend until the butter and the sugar is integrated.
Now add one egg and the vanilla.
Blend this all with a spoon, spatula or hand mixer.
Then if you haven’t already, it’s time to pulverize the almonds. I use skinless slivered almonds. Pulverize them until they are as fine as you can get them without turning them into butter. (If you don’t smash the almonds enough, pieces will clog the pastry tube hole. Also the texture will be chunky. A chunky texture is all right if you slice them and you like a chunky cookie. A traditional cookie has a fine texture.) Renee’s note: If you want, this can be a big grand experiment and there’s no major wrong or right. Just guidelines. Feel free to try things if you feel bold. If you don’t feel bold just go by the guidelines and you’ll be happy.)
So back to the guidelines…
Add the almonds to the butter/sugar/vanilla/egg mixture and stir thoroughly.
Then add the flour…
and mix thoroughly. You’re looking for a really stiff paste or dough.
Now at this point you can bake the cookies or you can roll them in non-stick wrap and refrigerate.
I refrigerate because I have to slice. I don’t have a pastry tube to make squeezed-out cookies. If you have a pastry tube you can squeeze them out in small, large-holed doughnut shapes. (The traditional shape is a wreath!) Another note: Before you bake them always do a test. Bake one cookie in the oven. If it flattens out too much, you need to add a little more flour before you go on and bake the rest.
The dough may be wrapped in foil and frozen for up to 2 months. If you do this let the dough soften slightly before you slice it or squeeze it out.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. I use parchment paper to line a baking sheet, but you can also use a lightly greased sheet. Slice the dough into 1/4-inch thick slices and arrange them about a half inch apart on your baking sheet. Same thing if you make wreaths. Bake your cookies in batches in the middle of the oven until they’re golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes, and transfer them with a metal spatula to a rack to cool. Your cookies may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for five days. This never happens in our house! We always polish them off right after they come out of the oven!