By Susan Sande
Kalispell, Montana (originally from Barton, North Dakota)
Norwegian and Danish families seem to have an unwritten rule requiring each household to bake at least seven kinds of cookies for the holiday season. Observing the Advent season as a time of preparation of the home and baking the goodies, the festivities would begin on December 24 with the unveiling of the decorated Christmas tree, and then enjoying the company of friends and neighbors, sampling the variety of beautiful, lovingly created, and tasty treats. This would take place during the “12 days of Christmas” (until January 5 – Epiphany).
One of the favorite seven cookies in my childhood home was Berlinekranser. My oldest brother’s birthday was December 29, and instead of having a birthday cake, he would choose to have this cookie, with perhaps a half-dozen to a dozen that he would claim as his own! I continue to make Berlinekranser each year as part of my obligatory seven kinds. This cookie is quite fragile, but oh, so delicious! As with most butter cookies, store in a tin in a cool, dark, dry place (like the closet shelf of an unused bedroom). And, as most butter cookies, the flavor improves with age.
2 cold hard-cooked egg yolks
2 large eggs, separated
½ cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup butter (room temperature)
Pearl sugar (perlesukker – a coarse sugar – found in most specialty food shops)
In mixer bowl, mash the 2 hard-cooked egg yolks finely with a fork. Add the 2 raw egg yolks and the granulated sugar. Beat mixture with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. Add flour and butter alternately to mixture, beating well after each addition. Chill dough. Roll dough into a log about the thickness of a broom handle. Cut off about 1 inch at a time, rolling that amount into a 4 to 5 inch rope. Form into a wreath ring, overlapping the ends (much like lower case written letter “e”). Dip the top side of the wreath into a saucer containing the 2 egg whites, which have been whisked until slightly frothy, then dip into saucer containing pearl sugar. Place on parchment paper or lightly greased cookie sheet. Make wreath rings with the remaining dough in the same manner. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a cookie sheet for about 1 minute before transferring to racks to cool completely. Makes 3½ dozen cookies.