Serinakaker

By • October 22, 2011 • 15 Comments



Author Notes: These are my very favorite Christmas cookies. They're a traditional Norwegian holiday cookie, and one of the few we ever baked in my family. (Growing up, the only time there were *ever* cookies in the house was Christmas. My brothers and I hated only get cookies once a year, but because of a few failed batches of cookies at other times of the year, we were also convinced that because of some curse the only time of year that our oven could actually produce decent cookies was at Christmas!).
Serinakaker are extremely simple, basically just buttery shortbread thumbprint cookies. Yet, somehow they taste so much more complex and delicious than you expect. They're so good that one of my friends became completely addicted to them, and last winter when out xc-skiing he got really tired and refused to go any further unless I came skiing by to offer him cookies. Miracle of miracles, my parents came by and they happened to be carrying some serinakaker in their pockets (this is what we do around Christmas instead of using energy bars), which they offered to him, and he finished the ski tour!
So yeah, they're that good.
The recipe I have is scrawled in Norwegian, in metric measurements, in an old falling apart notebook of my mother's. This version is my attempt at making it understandable for friends and others who wish to be able to make serinakaker.
fiveandspice

Food52 Review: With her Serinakaker, Fiveandspice has given us a classic cookie. It is all that is warm and comfortable in a butter-sugar cookie and, as promised, it is the perfect cookie to stash in a backpack for a wagon ride to feed the ducks at the pond. These cookies are a little denser than the soft cookies you can buy at the grocers but not at all heavy. And you can eat one with your morning cup of coffee and feel both full and not at all guilty. The one-bowl preperation method makes it ideal for cooking with children and the fact that you mush everything up with your hands had my four-year old in paroxyms of joy! I took fiveandspice's suggestion and sprinkled some crushed pecans over the top in lieu of the pearl sugar and added just a drop or two of almond extract to go with the nuts and they were warmly received. What wasn't devoured by my family this weekend I brought into work today and they were gone before nine!
Niknud

Makes several dozen

  • 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 6 Tbs. softened butter
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract if you have no vanilla sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg white, for brushing the cookies with
  • pearl sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Blend the flour, baking soda, and butter together in a bowl until it looks kind of like sand, using your fingers to rub the butter into the flour. Next blend in the sugar with your fingers. Finally, add the egg and vanilla, still with your hands, and mush, smash, rub, and stir the dough together. (Yes, you use your hands for the whole process. It's fun!)
  2. When it is thoroughly mixed, form it into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator over night. When you are ready to bake, let the dough warm up a bit, otherwise it will be nearly impossible to work with.
  3. Break off pieces of the dough, and roll them into balls that are about 1 to 1 ½ inches across, and put on cookie sheets. Once all the dough is made into balls, press your thumb into each to make an indentation. Most of the cookies will crack around the edges as you press into them. If they totally fall apart, just smash them up and roll them into new balls, but if there are just some cracks, that’s part of the look.
  4. Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg white to glaze. Then sprinkle some pearl sugar into each indentation. Pearl sugar is a special type of sugar for decoration that looks like tiny white rocks, or something of the sort. If you can’t find any, you can also use finely chopped almonds, or sprinkles that you like to decorate with (though I wouldn’t recommend using flavored sprinkles).
  5. Bake the cookies at 350?F for 15 minutes until golden. Move to a cooling rack and allow to cool. These cookies are delicious with a cup of coffee in the afternoon, or a mug of hot spiced wine. However, they are the absolute very best as a snack while you’re out on the cross-country ski trails, if you happen to be a cross-country skier. They keep for a week or two sealed in cookie tins, and they also freeze and defrost well, if you want to make them ahead.
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Chris_in_oslo

over 2 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

I'm definitely adding these to my repertoire.

Have you made them with hartshorn instead of the baking soda? Years ago, I did a comparison of one of our favorite Swedish Christmas cookies--baking powder vs. hartshorn. I've pretty much stuck with the modern leavening, but sometimes it's fun to go back in time.

Sausage2

over 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Hi Greenstuff, sorry to be slow to get back to you! Somehow I missed your comment. I never have used hartshorn, but I would like to give it a try sometime! That's a great idea. That type of historical cooking and the changes in ingredients over time are so fascinating to me.

Chris_in_oslo

over 2 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

I am still mulling this one over. We're thinking of adding some Norwegian recipes to our usual repertoire this year, and we are all cross-country skiers. So it seems like Serinakaker are a must! I've looked at a lot of recipes, and most seem to call for baking powder or hartshorn, not the baking soda your family uses. Any thoughts from the School of Nutrition part of you? Thanks!

Sausage2

over 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

You know that's a great question. Looking at the recipe and actually giving it some thought instead of just doing it as we always have without questioning, I think it probably should be baking powder rather than soda. It makes a lot more sense. Also, in Norway we almost always seem to use baking powder not soda anyway. I have a feeling that the scribbled recipe from my mom's notebook was from her watching her mom make them and jotting notes about what she saw and it might have been that she miswrote, or that that time her mom subbed because of missing ingredients or something. I'm going to ask my mom and get back t o you about it.

Sausage2

over 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Ok, I've looked into it some, and it seems like the recipe should have baking powder and it had just been miswritten in my mom's notebook. Obviously, it works ok with soda, but I think it'll be better with powder, and I'm going to try it and make the change!

Chris_in_oslo

over 2 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

Thanks! I've been thinking about this issue off and on and had pretty much decided that they'd be really good cookies even if I forget to add any leavening at all! Especially if your mom meant just a half a teaspoon of baking powder. The baking powder recipe I use for Swedish dreams (drömmer), for example, calls for 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. But let us know! (And I'm still thinking about maybe making some with hartshorn.)

Me

over 2 years ago wssmom

Congratulations on the CP! These do sound utterly addicting, and I'd love to see the original recipe written in Norwegian someday!

Sausage2

over 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Thank you wssmom! Addicting is exactly the right word for them. Next time I'm around a scanner, I'll have to scan the Norwegian recipe and add it as a photo. It's one of those great recipes that tells you do things like "blend all ingredients in the proper order" and just "shape the cookies" (with no further instruction about how...)

Me

over 2 years ago wssmom

Congratulations on the CP! These do sound utterly addicting, and I'd love to see the original recipe written in Norwegian someday!

Food54_profile_pic

over 2 years ago Ms. T

Looks like a lovely recipe, and what a great story. Congrats on the CP!

Sausage2

over 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Thanks Ms. T! It's a favorite!

3-bizcard

almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Love a good butter cookies and I really love the simplicity of the recipe.. Perfect for the holidays.

Sausage2

almost 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Thank you sdebrango! I completely agree about butter cookies. My holidays are all about family, love, good cheer, and high fat dairy products! hehe.

Cakes

almost 3 years ago Bevi

These look so good fiveandspice! I used to be a xc-skier, but will settle for having these during a hike or long walk!

Sausage2

almost 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Thanks Bevi! And you know, I think they'll be equally good on a hike or long walk. :)