We’re already a week into December and I’ve yet to post a Christmas cookie recipe. Pathetic, I know. Now typically I go for Christmas cookies that are full of either spice, chocolate, or butter. But I have something different for you today
Kakemenn. Cookie men. Every Norwegian child’s favorite. Or at least the favorite of kids who aren’t as crazy for pepparkaker as my four year old nephew, Nicolai, who sneaks down into the basement in the middle of July to eat half-year-old pepparkaker out of the pantry. According to this kid, the only thing better than pepparkaker are hot dogs. Or maybe white rice with ketchup. The kid’s got personality, I tell you.
But back to kakemenn. These little guys (or women, angels, pigs, or trees, as they technically don’t have to be cut into men-form) are super simple and keep forever. Which is why it’s a good idea to make them in the beginning of December and stash them in a huge tin for the rest of the month. They’re nothing fancy, but a good people- pleaser, since they’re crisp, not coyingly sweet, and can be decorated any way you please- we choose to keep them simple and only decorate them with our teeth marks.
The only thing to note is that traditionally, Norwegians use ammonium bicarbonate as the leavening agent for kakemenn. This is a fairly common ingredient in Scandinavian baking, but I do recognize that it’s a bit of an oddity and nearly impossible to get a hold of in much of the rest of the world. Might I also mention that it Norway, it’s referred to as Hjortetakksalt (deer antler salt) as it originally was produced by taking a dry distillation of an actual deer antler! Thank goodness for the children of 2010, ammonium bicarbonate is no longer made this way and can actually be substituted for equal parts baking soda and baking powder.
Before I hand over the recipe, I’ll leave you with a few photos from today, the second Sunday in advent. Sundays in December are all about lighting candles, setting a few logs on the fire, and sitting back with a plate of cookies and James Brown’s Santa Claus, Please Come to the Ghetto. Wouldn’t you agree?
Norwegian Cookie Men
*Makes anywhere between 2-4 dozen cookies (depending on the size of your cutter)
4 Tablespoon (50 g) butter, melted
1/2 cup (100 g/.5 dl) sugar
1/3 cup (1 dl) milk
2 cups (240 g/5 dl) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ammonium bicarbonate (or substitute 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp baking powder)
1. In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar, and milk.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the ammonium bicarbonate into the flour. Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Mix well, then chill for at least 2 hours.
3. Once thoroughly chilled, preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Roll the dough out into a 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick circle and cut out shapes using a cookie cutter. Put the cookies on a baking sheet, gather up the remaining scraps of dough, re-roll, then bake for 7-10 minutes. The cookies should still be mostly white when taken out of the oven, but fluffy and not doughy. Keeps for about 3 weeks in a cookie tin.