|Magical Cookies (ESA)|
|Written by Iceland Review|
|Friday, 02 December 2011 11:00|
The Christmas season in Iceland officially begins on the First Sunday in Advent, this year on November 27.
Some people (scrooges) think this is way too early to start thinking about the upcoming holidays, but Yule enthusiasts such as myself, indulge in the opportunity to let out their jólabarn (“Yuletime child”).
Fortunately, my husband shares my enthusiasm—up to a point—and it has become a tradition of ours to decorate the apartment in time for the First Sunday in Advent.
His role, as he is more patient than I am (an understatement), is to hang up the lights in the windows—and properly, so that every little light bulb points inwards.
(Last year he was away at a conference abroad when the First Sunday in Advent arrived and so I did the lights. They wouldn’t point the way they should and then they didn’t even work when I switched them on, so I darted off in a foul mood and left them hanging in shambles only for him to shake his head and fix them once he returned.)
I bring out other ornaments and make the Advent wreath from spruce twigs and cuttings and decorate it with four candles. Starting with the first one on November 27, every Sunday until Christmas Eve another candle is lit.
Another tradition of ours is to buy mandarins, which I guess is a heritage from the time when fruits were generally unavailable in Iceland in other seasons and so apples and oranges were considered Christmassy.
The stores stock up on boxes upon boxes of the small golden delights, which taste particularly delicious at this time of year, and people buy them like hotcakes—a good thing too because it’s about the only healthy traditional holiday treat there is.
Speaking of which… We also bought loads of chocolate, marzipan, nougat, nuts, margarine and other baking stuff for the annual baking of cookies and confectionary-making.
That is my department, mostly, although my husband gladly participates in the eating. And to justify the mounds of cookies I bake and chocolates I make (and to prevent us from piling on premature holiday pounds), I give a large portion of them away as presents.
I love baking cookies: Measuring up the ingredients, chopping up the chocolate and nuts, squishing the dough with my hands, having a taste of the dough, rolling it up in a sausage or flattening it with a rolling pin, having another taste of the dough, cutting it into little pieces or lovely shapes with a cookie cutter and placing them on a tray. Oh, look here, there was a little bit of dough left… wonder what to do with that?
And then the scent of baking cookies wafts through the apartment and works its magic on me—airborne happiness.
This year cookie baking was particularly special.
My grandmother, who passed away in 2007, mastered the art of baking and I doubt I will ever fill her shoes. But, as if by magic, we found her handwritten recipe book when we were clearing out her apartment some time ago.
It was if she had reached out to us from beyond this world to pass on her culinary heritage because it included all her trademark recipes, like laufabrauð (Christmas “leaf bread”), kleinur (twisted doughnuts) and kransakaka (marzipan ring cake).
And… a variety of smákökur, Christmas cookies!
However, as if to leave us room to add our own touches to these recipes, there were hardly any descriptions of how to handle the ingredients (I’m actually surprised that my grandmother had a recipe book at all, she baked most things by memory).
So here is her recipe for súkkulaðispesíur, typical Icelandic Christmas cookies with a twist.
500 g flour
Now, this is a big recipe (as my grandmother would have it). I made half and it was enough to fill two baking trays.
It seems simple enough: Measure up the dry ingredients, add the margarine in small pieces and the eggs and then mix everything with your hands until the dough is smooth.
Add flour if it’s too sticky, otherwise divide the dough into roughly four parts and roll each of them out in a thin sausage.
Cut the sausages into coin-sized cookies and place them on a non-stick baking tray, flattening them lightly. Bake at 180°C (365°F) for approximately ten minutes.
The title mentions chocolate (súkkulaði), yet there is no chocolate in the actual recipe.
I considered two options, either chop up some chocolate and mix it in with the other ingredients (which I ended up opting for) or place small pieces of chocolate onto each cookie after placing them on the tray.
The cookies tasted heavenly and I can’t wait to try the next recipe.
|Last Updated on Friday, 02 December 2011 14:41|