A Heart for Kringla
Let’s play a game. I’ll name a cookie and you respond with the person you associate with it. I’ll put my answers in parentheses. Ready?
- Peanut Butter (my mom)
- Oreos (my father-in-law)
- Chocolate Chip (my husband – especially if burnt)
- Oatmeal Raisin (my oldest son – because he HATES them)
- Honey Cookies (my maternal grandmother)
- No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal (our neighbor girl, Brianne)
- Snickerdoodles (my paternal grandmother)
- Monster (my aunt Jeanne)
- Kringla (Jeff)
Did this game make you smile? Did you think of someone you hadn’t thought of for a while? Isn’t that the best?
So, who is Jeff? We met Jeff, and his wife Diane, at our church in Waukee. They are one of those couples who do all the little things that need to be done before anyone else even notices, serve tirelessly with smiling faces, and live their faith … inside and outside the church building. When you get to know Jeff, you find out he loves to bake cookies. His specialties? Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip, and Kringla.
READY AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE
I think I am “prepared” if there is one bag or container of cookies in my freezer that I can share with unexpected guests. Jeff is another whole level of “prepared”. His freezer is continuously stocked with dozens of each of those three kinds of cookies. If the church is hosting a lunch after a funeral? Vacation Bible School? Someone is unable to fulfill their turn serving coffee after church?
A friend from the congregation moves away and casually mentions on Facebook that she has been missing Jeff’s Kringla?
Yep. That happened. This past Christmas, I mentioned it to Diane after she added a comment on one of my posts and her immediate response was: “will you be in the area soon?” Two days later I had Kringla in my hands … and, shortly after that, in my belly.
If you’ve never tasted Kringla, imagine a soft, buttery, slightly sweet cross between a sweet roll and a cookie.
ALL SHAPES & SIZES
This cookie originates in the Scandinavian countries … Norway, Sweden and Denmark. As with many Kringla recipes, the ingredients and baking methods vary from region to region and country to country. Browsing other recipes for Kringla shows a variety of fats used including butter, lard and shortening. Some include warm spices like nutmeg, cardamom, or anise. Sour cream, buttermilk and heavy cream, alone or in combination, are common.
Traditionally, the cookies are shaped like a figure-eight (or infinity symbol if turned sideways) or a knot (like a pretzel). When our kids were home for Christmas they all enjoyed (what was left of) the Kringla from Jeff and Diane so much, I decided to make a batch for Valentine’s Day … hence, the heart!
It is interesting to note that “Kringla” and “Kringle” are not the same. “Kringle” refers to a yeast-based dough that is rolled out and wrapped around a filling of fruit, nuts and/or cream. The ends are sometimes brought together into a large circle like a tea ring. This is the Danish version (click here for a beautiful example).
Sounds like I need a Foodventure in the Scandinavian countries for research purposes!
I must admit, the recipe I am sharing here is not exactly Jeff’s Kringla recipe. It’s very similar but this one uses lard and anyone who knows me, knows my affection for lard. (Not sure that’s something I should be proud of, but I am.) That being said, it is impossible for me to make Kringla … figure-eight or hearts, lard or shortening … and not think of Jeff and Diane.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup lard, shortening or butter softened to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cardamom
- 4 cups flour
- Using a mixer, cream sugar and lard together until well incorporated.
- Add salt, sour cream and buttermilk mixing until fully incorporated.
- Add baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and one cup of flour. Mix gently. Continue adding flour, one cup at a time, until fully incorporated.
- Wrap dough in a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400°. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
- Remove about 1/4 of the dough from refrigerator and divide into golf-ball-sized portions. Sprinkle countertop lightly with flour (just enough to keep dough from sticking). Roll each portion into a skinny log (see image for reference), 6-8 inches long.
- Form each log into desired shape (e.g. figure-eights, hearts, "S", knots) and place on cookie sheet. Leave about 2 inches between cookies.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes, just until bottom of cookies is lightly browned. If the tops brown, they have baked too long. Unless you like them that way ... then they were baked perfectly!
- Continue with remaining dough, working in batches. Keeping the dough cold will help with shaping the cookies.
SHARE THE LOVE
Whose cookies are you thinking of right now? Send them a note retelling a favorite memory or just letting them know you were thinking of those times of sharing cookies. If they are no longer with us, make some cookies and create some new memories in their honor.