My upcoming release, Northern Lights, will be out on the first of December. The romantic novella is set in Kirkenes, Norway, and will be available in e-book, paperback and audio format. Writing it really got me in the mood for Christmas, and I hope it will awaken the Christmas spirit in you too! Here’s the blurb:
Hannah Hudson decides to take a break from her busy restaurant and her life in London after her girlfriend, who she thought she’d share the rest of her life with, suddenly walks out on her. She travels to a small boutique hotel in Kirkenes, Norway, hoping to spend a peaceful and relaxing Christmas by herself.
Kristine Miller loves adventure. A bank manager living in a small town in Louisiana, she’ll take every opportunity she can get to explore the world. Kristine travels to Norway hoping to see the famous northern lights but when she meets Hannah, a fellow guest at her hotel, she realizes soon enough that the northern lights might not be the most fascinating thing there.
Both women expected Christmas in Norway to be special but neither of them expected it to bring magic into their lives…
I put some of my mother’s recipes for Norwegian cookies in the back of the book, so you can join in with Hannah & Kristine and give it a go yourself, but for those of you following my blog – and apologies for the fact that I haven’t blogged much lately, it’s been super busy- you can start early if you like! I’ve substituted two kinds of cookies that appear in Northern Lights with other recipes that are also popular Christmas cookies in Norway, as I am assuming no one outside Scandinavia will have the special irons required to make these. Therefore you should only need standard kitchen equipment to make the recipes listed below, you can even substitute a rolling pin for a wine bottle—it works just fine. I’ve personally tested all the recipes to see if they could be made without an electric mixer, and although I couldn’t lift my right arm the next day, the cookies tasted great! With tsp, I mean a regular teaspoon you stir your coffee with, and with tbsp, I mean a regular spoon you eat soup with, so if it doesn’t fit in your mouth, it’s too big… ! One final note – please be aware that these recipes make big batches, they are made to be shared & are often given as gifts to friends & family at Christmas.
So, here we go!
Makes about 40 small cookies
100 gr butter / 0.4 cup / 3.5 oz
85 gr sugar / 0.4 cup / 3 oz
300 gr white flour / 2.4 cup / 10 ½ oz
100 ml golden syrup / 0.4 cup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
- Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the sugar (this can be done by hand or using a mixer).
- Add in the spices, the golden syrup, then the flour and continue to mix until everything is blended well.
- Leave the dough to cool in the fridge for 2 hours.
- After cooling, roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. I like to use Christmas tree shapes for this recipe. If you don’t have cookie cutters, you can simply roll the dough into a sausage shape and slice off rounds.
- Line your baking sheet(s) with parchment paper and bake the cookies in a pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, 180 C / 360 F / GM 4.
- After removing from the oven leave the cookies to cool down and firm up. Easy!
Makes about 40-50 small doughnuts
125 gr sugar / 0.6 cup / 4.4 oz
50 ml full fat cream / 0.2 cup
100 ml sour cream / 0.4 cup
390 gr white flour / 2.4 cups / 10.2 oz
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cardamom
Sugar and icing sugar to decorate
Vegetable oil to deep-fry
- Beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture starts to stiffen (this can be done by hand or using a mixer).
- Add in the cream and the sour cream, then add the flour, the baking powder and finally the cardamom.
- Mix again until all is blended well. The dough should look a little stringy at this stage.
- Leave the dough to cool in the fridge for half an hour.
- Flour your work surface, your hands and your rolling pin and roll out the dough to a 1cm thickness. Use basic round cookie cutters of two different sizes, or an espresso cup to create the outer edge, and a small bottle top to cut out the inner part. After you’ve created your shapes, simply tear away the dough in between the circles and the inner parts of the doughnuts and use the scraps to make another batch.
- Heat up frying oil in a big pan (or set your deep fat fryer to 165 C / 330F). When the oil has reached temperature place the smultringer in the oil. They will float to the top so don’t put too many in the pan/fryer at the same time. Turn them after a while so they’re a nice golden brown on both sides (not too dark or they will be dry), then put them on a paper towel to drain most of the excess fat off.
- To finish, mix icing sugar and sugar together in a bowl and coat the smultringer on both sides while they’re still hot, then lay them on a cold plate to cool.
Makes about 30 cookies
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
2 raw egg yolks
200 gr sugar / 1 cup / 7 oz
320 gr white flour / 2 ½ cup / 11.2 oz
225 gr butter / 1 cup / 8 oz
1 ½ tsp vanilla sugar
Pearl sugar to decorate
- Cut the butter into small chunks and leave them out of the fridge to soften.
- Mix the cooked and raw egg yolks together in a bowl until you get a smooth mixture. Set the raw egg white aside for later.
- Mix in the sugar and vanilla sugar and then combine the flour and the butter, adding alternatively until the mixture resembles a soft dough. You can do this by hand, which will give you a rigorous work-out, or with a mixer.
- Leave the mixture to cool in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 175 C / 350 F / GM 4.
- Take chunks off the dough and roll into thin sausage shapes of around 12 cm long, about the thickness of your fingers. Now, create a wreath shape by folding one end over the other, letting them cross, this should leave a small hole in the middle.
- Brush the cookies with egg white and decorate by sprinkling them with pearl sugar.
- To finish, place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure to leave some space between them as they will expand in the oven. Bake them for about 15 minutes, then let then cool down. They will become harder as they cool and your kitchen will fill with the scent of vanilla!
Makes about 30
225 gr butter / 1 cup / 8 oz
255 gr white flour / 1.8 cup / 8 oz
130 gr ground almonds / 1 1/8 cup / 4.6 oz
100 gr sugar / ½ cup / 3 ½ oz
For the filling:
200 ml full fat cream / 0.8 cup
200 ml sour cream / 0.8 cup
Berries of your choice
You will also need tartlet or muffin tins to make these.
- Rub cubed butter into the flour until you’re left with a mixture that resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Mix in the ground almonds, the sugar and the egg to the mixture. The mixture should now be forming small clumps and have a sand-like texture to it. Leave the dough to cool in the fridge for an hour.
- Pre-heat your oven to 175 C / 350 F / GM 4.
- After you have removed the dough from the fridge, press it firmly into the tartlet tins before then placing them onto a baking sheet. Bake them for about 13 minutes, or until they are slightly brown around the edges. Let them cool down completely before you even attempt to remove the cookies from the tins.
- Mix the cream and sour cream and place a dollop into each sandkake, then, top them up with berries of your choice. Yum!
Makes around 50 cookies
150 ml cream / 0.6 cup
150 ml golden syrup / 0.6 cup
150 gr sugar / 0.6 cup / 5.2 oz
100 gr butter / 0.4 cup / 3.5 oz
450 gr white flour / 3.6 cup / 15.9 oz
¼ tsp ground star anise
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
1 egg white to glaze
Almonds, blanched, for decorating
- Melt the butter in a pan.
- In another pan bring the cream, syrup and sugar to a boil and then add in the melted butter before removing from the heat.
- Whisk in the dry ingredients and kneed into a dough. Leave the dough in the fridge overnight.
- The next morning, remove the dough from the fridge – it should be quite tough in appearance at this stage.
- Preheat the oven to 175 C / 350 F / GM4, and flour the worksurface, your hands and the rolling pin.
- Roll out the dough until very thin, turn it around, and repeat until the dough is almost transparent. It might appear too thin or too flimsy for a cookie, but this is correct. Cut out into diamond shapes, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and push half an almond into the middle of each cookie. Glaze them with egg white and bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a plate to cool down. They will make your kitchen smell really Christmassy!
Makes about 35 cookies
4 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
7 tbsp of sugar
120 ml cream / ½ cup
385 gr white flour / 3 cups / 13 ½ oz
1 ½ tbsp brandy
A pinch of salt
½ tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp ground cardamom
Vegetable oil or sunflower oil to deep-fry
Icing sugar to decorate
- Mix the eggs with the brandy and have a shot while you’re at it!
- Add the vanilla, cardamom, salt and cream, then fold in the flour. Do this by hand, preferably with a wooden spoon. It should not be beaten, just folded and blended gently until it’s all mixed together. Add extra flour to the mixture if it’s still a little too sticky to roll out.
- Dust your work surface, your hands and your rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out thin. Cut out diamond shapes and make a small cut in the middle of each diamond. Fold one end of the diamond through the hole in the center and pull it out on the other side. You now have a ‘bow’ (ish) shape. Don’t worry if they don’t look pretty, they’ll puff up when you deep-fry them.
- Heat up frying oil in a pan or set your deep fat fryer to 165C.
- When the oil has reached temperature place the fattigman in the oil. They will float to the top so don’t put too many in the pan/fryer at the same time. Turn them around so they’re golden on both sides. Let them cool down, then dust with icing sugar on both sides.
Makes around 30 cookies
8 egg whites
400 gr sugar / 2 cups / 14 oz
2 tsp vanilla sugar
400 gr dried coconut flakes / 4 cups / 13.6 oz
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 360 F / GM 4.
- Whisk the egg whites in a big pan (off the heat) until you see small bubbles appear in the mixture.
- Gently fold in the sugar, vanilla sugar and the dried coconut flakes.
- Place the pan on a low heat and stir until the mixture turns gloopy and sticks to your spoon.
- Take the pan off the heat and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon place dollops of the mixture onto the sheet and make sure to leave some space in between them.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then let them cool down so they can set. By the time they’re cold, they should be golden on the outside and white and gooey on the inside