Kransecake is a towering stack of cookie rings, decorated whimsically with royal icing. Originating from Denmark and Norway, also known as tårnkake (tower cake) and kransekage (wreath cake), this wonder is traditionally made for special occasions like weddings, anniversaries, and the winter holidays. Despite it’s impressive appearance, the cookie dough base is incredibly easy to make and work with. (You do need a specific mold, but it's inexpensive and stores totally flat!) You can decorate it however fancy, even simply. The crisp almond cookies are tasty and last a long time, making it a fun make-ahead holiday showstopper (and if you use cornmeal to dust the molds, it’s naturally gluten-free).
In a large bowl, sift together the almond flour, powdered sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg to combine. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Add the egg whites, vanilla, and almond extract and mix on low speed until the mixture is uniformly combined, 2-3 minutes.
Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
To prepare the molds, lightly grease them with nonstick spray and dust lightly with semolina or cornmeal (be sure to use cornmeal if you want it to be gluten-free).
When the dough has chilled well, preheat the oven to 400° F.
Divide the dough into 6 even pieces. Divide each piece into three pieces, but not evenly; you’ll want to get one small, one medium, and one larger piece from each. Don’t worry about making it perfect. You can always “borrow” extra from other pieces later.
Take each piece of dough and roll it out on a clean work surface into a rope about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick. You shouldn’t need flour, but if the dough is sticking, dust your surface lightly with semolina or cornmeal.
Place each rope into the prepared mold, following the circle indentations in the mold. Press the dough together firmly where the ends meet to seal. If there’s too much dough, pinch it off and save it to add to another piece if needed. Use the larger ropes for the outer rings on each mold, the medium rope for the middle ring, and the smallest rope for the center.
Repeat until all the dough is used and all the molds are lined. Transfer the molds to the oven (you can place a few together on a baking sheet if you like), and bake until the cookies are lightly golden and feel set, 10-12 minutes.
Let the cookies cool completely in their molds. When they are cool, carefully remove them (it should be very easy).
To assemble the kransekake, place royal icing in a pastry bag with a small circle tip. Pipe a few dots onto a serving platter and place the largest ring on top to adhere it to the platter.
Pipe dots all around the surface of the ring, and place the next largest ring on top. Continue to place dots and rings, working your way up to the smallest ring.
Decorate the kransekake with the remaining royal icing however you like. I like to do a different design/pattern on every ring, but you can also just do simple lines all the way down or on every other piece.
Serve immediately or hold for up to 3 days. The cookies are quite crisp and won’t “stale” much, so this makes for a great make-ahead that can be stored at room temperature, much like gingerbread used for houses.
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.