Sunday, December 24, 2017

Norwegian Kakemenn

Norwegian Kakemenn are soft sugar cookies that aren't too sweet - perfect for decorating with icing! They use baker's ammonia instead of baking powder for leavening. Easy and simple tasting, they're a crowd pleaser!

Norwegian Kakemenn

I've always loved learning about other cultures and countries, especially when it came to celebrations and (of course) food. My mom has a boxed collection of cookbooks "from around the world", which I love to peruse even though there are no photos. This year I picked a few out of the "British Isles and Northern Europe" book to make for holiday gifts, including these delightfully Michelin man-like Norwegian sugar cookies caked kakemenn.

Norwegian Kakemenn

I'm sure you can figure out what the word translates into English as, and let me tell you they are true to their name (even when not shaped like "men"). However, unlike most typical "cakey" cookies that have a soft, somewhat sticky surface and are cakey all the way through, these have a very definite crisp "shell" to bite through before the airy middle is revealed.While I call these "sugar cookies" for lack of a better name, they are definitely not as sweet as traditional sugar cookies are here in North America. They are relatively mild tasting, which is great for people (especially kids) who don't like the typical spice-laden cookies of the season, and since they are intended to be frosted the lack of sweet in the cookie results in a perfect marriage once all is said and done.

The cookie dough is relatively unique in my experience, for two reasons: first, the base of the cookie is milk, rather than butter. While butter is a part of the dough, it is melted and mixed with the milk and sugar before adding flour and leavening. The leavening is the second unique part of this cookie puzzle - like the Amoniaczki and Vintage Speculaas that I've made in the past, these cookies use baker's ammonia for leavening instead of baking powder. If baking with ammonia weirds you out - and trust me, when these are baking you'll think you're cleaning your oven - don't worry about ingesting poison. It might smell like bleach at first (and I don't recommend eating it raw!) but ammonium bicarbonate is a fantastic leavener for simple cookies since it doesn't leave any taste behind after it's done it's job! Apparently, you can try to substitute baking powder, but I know you won't get the same airy crispness of the original.

Norwegian Kakemenn

Do you like trying out new cookies every year for the holidays? What are some of your favourites?

Norwegian Kakemenn 
Makes 26
25 g unsalted butter, melted
⅔ cup whole milk
187 g sugar
7.5 g baker’s ammonia or baking powder
2 cups flour
  1. Whisk together the butter, milk and sugar until well combined.
  2. Add baker’s ammonia, followed by the flour, a little at a time, mixing until the dough comes together in a slightly sticky ball.
  3. Wrap the dough ball and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  4. Heat the oven to 425F and line baking sheets with parchment or SilPat.
  5. Roll the dough out to 1/8" and cut shapes out of the dough.
  6. Bake for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom and edges.
  7. Allow to cool before decorating with royal icing or cookie glaze.
*Note: I know there's a weird mix of weight and volume here... it's what was in the book. I would recommend using something like convert-me if you want all one or another.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 72.5
Total Fat: 1.0 g
Cholesterol: 2.6 mg
Sodium: 9.1 mg
Total Carbs: 14.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.3 g
Protein: 1.2 g