EDIBLE TREATS: Brunekager / Danish Spice Cookies

Little Danish Holiday Custom:  
If you are in Denmark during the holidays and are offered a traditional Christmas cookie (Pebernød / Brunkage), you have to accept it.
Otherwise, tradition states…you ruin the spirit of Christmas!

The traditional cookie that every household in Denmark bakes for the holidays is known as ‘brun-kager’ and literally translates to ‘brown cookie’ – but, are known also as Danish Spice Cookies.

Every year…a part of me awaits their addicting smell and taste. With their annual arrival, the sweet smell of these traditional holiday cookie bring back the wonderful memories of my Danish childhood. We would know that the holidays were right around the corner when fresh scented aromas of cinnamon and spices would fill the air from our bedstemor’s (grandmother) kitchen. She would fill many a huge tin full of these delicious morsels – and both young and old alike would raid these over the coming days before Christmas!
The recipe I present here is a combination of the one she used to make plus a little from that of our great-grandmother from Skjold in Jylland along with a little from our mother and mine. Thus, what you get here is a modern hybrid of multiple generations of cookie making.
Make these for the holidays and serve up with a nice warm cup of gløgg!

INGREDIENTS (Ingredienser)

Please Note: Measurements shown in both English and Metric
spsk=large soup spoon / tsp=demitasse spoon
Makes 4 dozen

5 oz / (125g) Dark Molasses (Mørk Sirup)
2/3c / (125g) Baker’s Sugar or Powdered Sugar (Puddersukker)
2/3c / (125g) Butter (Smør)
2-1/4c / (250g) Flour (Mel)
2tbsp / (2spsk) Cinnamon (Kanel) – ground
1tsp / (1tsk) Cloves (Nelliker) – ground
1/4tsp / (1/4tsk) Allspice (Allehånde) – ground
3tbsp / (3spsk) Raisin Water (Rosinvand)*
1tbsp / (1spsk) Baking Soda (Natron)
1c / (75g) Slivered Almonds, crushed (Mandler)…I prefer more!
1 Lemon Zest – medium size (Citronskal)
1 Orange Zest – large size (Appelsinerskal)

FOR DECORATION
Pearl Sugar (Perlsukker) or Almond (Mandler)

*How to make raisin water: Night before add 1/8 cup raisins to 1 cup water. Water should look brownish from the overnight soak…or simply use plain water.

DIRECTIONS

1: PREPARE DOUGH: Melt Molasses, Sugar and Butter together over medium heat until butter melts.
2: Add Baking Soda to raisin water and blend. Then, add this to the warm molasses mixture. (Don’t worry the mixture will froth and change increase in quantity as chemical composition changes.) Add finely chopped almonds and zests – and mix thoroughly. Let mixture cool until able to touch without burning yourself.
3: While molasses mixture is cooling, mix the flour and the spices together in a separate bowl. Once molasses mixture is cool enough to handle, add a little flour at a time stirring with a spoon to form a nice smooth ball.
4: SHAPE: Here you have two options: OPTION ONE, you can roll the dough out on a lightly floured board and use a cookie cutter. Or OPTION TWO, you can make them into thick pølser (sausage) and form them between parchment paper/plastic into square logs and let them rest in the refrigerator for minimum 4-6 hours until firm enough to cut. (Note: The rolls can be stored in the fridge for week.) Cut the pølserne (sausages) with a sharp knife about an 1/4″ thick.
5: BAKING: Preheat an oven at 325°F at 12-15 or until golden brown. Note: depending on your location and weather conditions, pretest the timing of batch and check time at 8-10 minutes as time may vary.
6: Lay the cookies on a cookie sheet with parchment paper or on a reusable silicon baking sheet. Decorate with pearl sugar or a small almond sliver. Bake according to the above directions. Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Taste best when served warm…and with gløgg!

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