Friday, December 7, 2018


What is a holiday without special food?

I find myself on these short, overcast days thinking of cookies and remembering the days of baking with my family in the kitchen as we mixed flour, butter, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs together, making balls of dough or rolling the dough flat to cut out cookie cutter shapes. Cardamom, a spice from India and Indonesia, added a Scandinavian flavor to the cookies. How did cardamom wind up in many Scandinavian recipes? The Vikings sailed, traded, pillaged and participated in slave trading all the way to the Far East. They returned home with many items such as spices that influenced changes in their own culture. Cardamom was one of them.

My mom made Sandbakelse, a shortbread cookie with cardamom added, every year. When my mother stopped baking Sandbakelse, no one else in our family took over the all-day task of pressing a small ball of cookie dough into 3-inch fluted tin pans, baking them in the oven until the edges turned brown, and letting them cool before carefully tapping them into her hand. Though we always savored Sandbakelse plain, other people fill the flutes with lingonberry jam or almond fillings.

My sisters and I made pepperkaker (a ginger cookie), rosettes, and krumkaker (another cardamom-flavored cookie). I include my dad in the group of holiday treat makers, not because he made cookies, but because he supervised making lefse, a Norwegian potato pancake. He heated crepe-like circles of dough on a griddle and flipped the thin pancake when brown spots appeared. He knew just when the lefse was ready. Once off the griddle, we spread a few of the lefse with either butter and jam or butter and sugar. We rolled the lefse into tight rolls, closed our eyes, opened our mouths, and tasted the first holiday treat of the year.

I don't bake often, but the holiday season creates the desire to inhale the aromas of baking cookies, to savor the warm, butter-filled lefse, and to crunch into a powdered sugar-coated rosette, which then covers my lips and tips of my fingers with fine powder to be licked off with pleasure. What a holiday treat!

Sandbakelse before baking  Photo courtesy of Fisken Fjorden

Here are two Heimdahl cookie recipes to try:

Sandbakelse, as written by my mom

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Warm the fluted tin pans.

Mix together:
1/2 cup butter
1/2  cup oleo
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour
1 egg
2 yolks
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/s almond extract

Roll into a 1-inch ball. Spread the dough inside the fluted pans, pushing the dough up the sides.
Bake for 6 1/2 minutes. Let cool before removing from pans.


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together in the following order:
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp dark strap molasses
2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
3 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
2-3 Tbsp water, if needed

Chill dough and roll out thin. Cut in diamond shapes.
Bake for 10 minutes.

Do you have a favorite holiday treat?


  1. Martha, this is such perfect timing for me! I just finished baking snickerdoodles and linzer cookies and doggie biscuits for my grand-puppies. Happy holidays!

    1. Yes, I saw your linzer cookies on FB. They look delicious! Doggie biscuits, now there is a recipe. Happy holidays back to you and your family, Sara.

  2. Drooling. Wanting to be smelling the goodies in the kitchen...mmmmm

    1. Someone is supposed to be working on getting aromas emanating from your phone! We may be able to smell those cookies yet. Thanks for your comments, Jan.


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from readers. I answer each one.

I do not post Anonymous comments because of problems with spammers.