On a trip to Finland earlier this year, I realized that the food that had surrounded me as a child was Scandinavian. I guess I never connected that my great-grandpa was from Sweden. Alas, the myopia of the third-generation USA-born offspring.
One of my favorite cookies is a delicate Norwegian butter cookie, topped with chopped almonds, called Serina Kaker. It calls for vanilla sugar which is easy to make by pulsing 1/4 cup of sugar and a 1/2 vanilla pod together in a food processor and then seiving out the seeds. Or you can find it premade at specialty baking supply or spice stores.
Makes about 30.
1 cup cold butter (not margarine)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
(or substitute 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tsp vanilla)
1 cup chopped almonds
Cut butter into small pieces in the mixer’s bowl, stir in the flour and baking powder. Blend on medium speed until well blended.
Add one egg, reserving the other, to the mixture, then blend at medium speed for 1 minute. Add the sugar and vanilla sugar while continuing to blend at medium speed, about one more minute. Refrigerate the dough in a covered container for two or three hours.
Beat the other egg. Roll the dough into small balls, about 3/4″ round, and place on ungreased cookie sheet 2″ apart. Flatten each ball slightly with a fork. Brush the top of the cookies with egg and sprinkle some chopped almonds or coarse sugar on top.
Bake at 375F for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the cookies.