12 Popular Norwegian Christmas Cookies
When thinking about Christmas, one can’t help but think of Norwegian cookies. Because, in Norway, cookies are a huge part of the Christmas celebration. In fact, many Norwegians feel it’s not Christmas until they’ve baked the sju slag, literally, the seven kinds.
These are seven different types of cookie traditionally made in the weeks before Christmas and served throughout the festive season. However, what these seven kinds are is up for debate, as the list is not set in stone. Hence, what one family considers sju slag might be different from those of another family.
Having said that, Norwegians also enjoy several other cookies not associated with Christmas, most notably the kransekake, which are several cookie rings put together. This festive cake is traditionally made for special occasions, such as weddings and christenings.
We of course also have the havrekjeks, which is a very versatile and tasty cookie, indefinitely healthier than the rest on our list. This cookie is normally served with sweet brown cheese. Now, let’s have a closer look at the most popular Norwegian cookies.
Kransekake literally means wreath cake, but the alternative name, tårnkake (meaning tower cake), might be a better description.
It is typically made to celebrate special occasions and consists of several concentric cookie rings. These are of different sizes, one on top of the other, creating a tower. The tower is then decorated with icing sugar, party crackers, and Norwegian flags.
Now, even though the name kransekake implies cake, the rings are actually more cookies than cake. They are made with almonds, egg whites, and sugar. This makes them chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Even though the name kransekake implies cake, the rings are actually more cookies than cake.
More often than not, this cake is associated with occasions like christening and weddings, but it is also often made for Christmas or New Year. For Christmas it is also quite common to make a simplified version called kransekakestenger, which are short sticks made from the same dough as the intricate kransekake.
Krumkake can be translated as curved cake, but the name is quite misleading, as this isn’t a cake at all. Rather, it’s a wafer cookie baked on a hot iron before being shaped into a cone while still hot.
A krumkake is super crispy and delicate and is often served with whipped cream.
Krumkake is one of the most typical Christmas cookies and usually comprise one of the seven kinds.
Sandkaker literally translates as sand cakes, a super confusing name as they are not cakes and they definitely don’t have any sand in them. These are instead traditional Norwegian cookies made with butter, flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and baking powder.
The dough is pressed into small moulds, similar to those kids would use in the sandbox, hence the name. The sand cakes are then baked in the oven until golden. They are often filled with whipped cream and berries or jam.
Ok, we might as well get used to it; for some reason, Norwegians call most of their cookies cake. Serinakaker, or Serina cookies have a soft texture, resembling shortbread cookies.
They are normally decorated with pearl sugar and are very easy to make. This might be one of the main reasons this cookie is often included among the seven kinds for Christmas. Plus, it’s super tasty.
If you’re wondering where the name Serinakake comes from, we are none the wiser, but it is assumed they were first made by a woman named Serina.
Pepperkaker literally translates as pepper cakes, which sounds horrible, but is actually the Norwegian version of gingerbread.
Pepperkake cookies are generally more spicy than regular gingerbread cookies, as the Norwegian recipe calls for added pepper and other spices. Still, they are a firm favorite with children.
Pepperkaker are traditionally made for Christmas, and often an entire day is set aside for this activity at school or even kindergarten.
Kolakaker are, of course, also not cakes, but are chewy and very sweet cookies. The first part of the name might make you think they have Coca Cola in them, but they don’t.
The word kola is actually the Swedish word for caramel, and somehow this name has stuck for these popular Norwegian Christmas cookies as well. Kolakaker are super easy to make by shaping the dough into flat logs, which are then cut into strips after baking.
Goro is a traditional Norwegian Christmas cookie with a taste and texture somewhat similar to krumkake. This particular cookie is also quite delicate, although less so than the krumkake, and it is rectangular rather than cone shaped.
They are baked in a special goro iron with imprints, giving the cookies a beautiful pattern. Goro is often considered one of the seven kinds for Christmas.
The dough is rolled out and cut into a diamond shape. Before baking the cookies, a halved almond is placed in the center of each one.
Havrekjeks, or oat cookies, are one of the few traditional Norwegian cookies not associated with Christmas.
These cookies are even called cookies (kjeks) rather than cake, and are made with oats, flour, butter, milk, sugar, and baking powder. The dough is rolled out and cut with round cookie cutters. Havrekjeks are traditionally served with butter and brown cheese.
Mandelflarn are almond lace cookies, a very delicate type of cookie often served during, yes you guessed it, Christmas. One might think they are very difficult to make, but with some practice they are really not. You can even cheat and skip the last step, making flat cookies instead of cone-shaped ones.
Mandelflarn is made by combining chopped almonds, butter, sugar, flour, milk, and syrup, then spooning the mixture onto a baking tray.
The mixture spreads out by itself and is baked until golden brown. While still hot, the cookies can be shaped on a greased rolling pin.
Fattigmann, literally poor man, is a Christmas cookie dating back to the Middle Ages. They are called poor man’s cookies because, as they are made with rather expensive ingredients such as butter, heavy cream, and, in some recipes, a dash of cognac, you could well become one if you make them.
The cookies are quite chewy and they have an irregular shape. The dough is deep fried in lard until brown and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
While technically not a cookie, we have to include smultringer, a super crispy donut-like treat. They are smaller and crispier than the average donut, and since they are super tasty on their own, no glazing is required. The dough is cut into rings using a cookie cutter and fried in lard, called smult.
As opposed to most other entries on this list, smultringer are eaten all year. However, they are particularly popular during Christmas, and are often considered one of the seven kinds.
So, there you have it, the most popular cookies in Norway (or as Norwegians for some reason like to call them, cakes). Most of these are made for Christmas, but they can of course be enjoyed all year. They are all super sweet, quite quick and easy to make (apart from kransekake, that is!) and give a festive feel. Which of these would you choose as your sju slag, or seven kinds?
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