Norwegian Kakemenn, Norwegian Cake Men
I think if R had to pick his most favorite holiday treat ever, and if he wasn't allowed to pick these Norwegian truffles, called konfekt, he would for sure go for kakemenn. This recipe comes from his best friend's mom, because they are exactly the ones he remembers from childhood. So kakemenn. What are those? They're thick, rolled out, and then cut-out, cookies. They're made from a dough that stays pretty cakey (appropriate, given their name) and honestly? They taste like the best, most delicious animal crackers you've ever had. Not dry like the prepackaged kind, but also not overly sweet. I think this last quality makes them very good candidates for a cookie tray crowded with overly cloying desserts.
But it wouldn't be a Norwegian recipe without at least one hard-to-find ingredient if you live in the US. These cookies are made with hornsalt, instead of baking powder. Hornsalt is also called baker's ammonia, and is a leavener whose flavor evaporates out of the baked good, and is supposed to be great for its texture. However, since it starts out imparting the taste of ammonia to the food, you can forget about sampling your cookie dough. And if you need to clear out your sinuses, one whiff of hornsalt should do the trick.
For the decorating, which we couldn't do before R had polished off more than half of them, it's traditional to simply paint them with a brush and food coloring, or to leave them white. Since I spent so much time tracking down coconut oil for this recipe, I ran out of time to get paint brushes. But I think they're charming enough as is. The recipe below makes a ton of cookies. Seriously, a ton. It can easily be halved.
Norwegian Kakemenn (and women, and dogs)
Friend of the Family's recipe
1/2 liter of water
30 grams of hornsalt
100 grams of unsalted butter, melted
750 grams of sugar
1.5-2 kilos flour
Put the melted butter in a medium bowl and add the water. Mix in the sugar and hornsalt, then add a little flour at a time, mixing, until the dough comes together in a ball. It will be a bit sticky. You may not use all of the flour, depending on the conditions.
Wrap the dough ball and refrigerate for twelve hours. After this time, remove from the refrigerator and allow to warm up a little bit on the counter.
Preheate the oven to 425F. Put parchment paper over a couple of cookie sheets and set aside. Roll the dough out to about 1/8" and using cookie cutters cut shapes out of the dough. Put the cookies on the baking sheets and bake for about 8 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom and edges. Allow to cool, and decorate with food coloring used as paint if you want.