Sweet • Sour • Savory

Food blog on scandinavian style food done right.

Christmas cookies

Danish Shortbread Sticks

Cake, Cookies, Holiday, ChristmasTove Balle-PedersenComment

December 3th

This is a take on the traditional Danish Shortbread or Finskbrød as they are called. I really like the addition of the lemon zest, and the more modern look. Normally Danes do not like changes to their traditional food and cookies. 'It has to be exactly like my mom made it' - but some changes are for the better, like this one.

Inspired by a Blomsterberg recipe.

Makes 30.



  • 200 g butter, salted, room temperature  
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 60 confectionary (powdered) sugar
  • 1 lemon, the zest of
  • 275 g all-purpose flour


  • 1 egg, 
  • coarse raw cane sugar 


Preheat oven to 375℉ (190℃)

Mix all the ingredients until it forms a dough, be careful not to overwork the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic film, and let it rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 6 x 12-inch (15 x 30 cm) rectangle. Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, set aside. Beat the egg, and brush a thin even layer on the dough. Sprinkle with a good amount of raw cane sugar. Gently press the sugar into the dough with the rolling pin. Put the dough into the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes. Cut the dough in half so you now have 2 squares 6x6-inches (15x15 cm) each. Cut each square in 14-15 long thin logs, 

Bake for 7-10 minutes, until light golden brown. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.



Honey Hearts - Honningkagehjerter

Cake, Christmas, Cookies, HolidayTove Balle-PedersenComment
Honey Hearts - Honningkagehjerter

Honey Hearts - Honningkagehjerter

December 5th. Second day of Christmas.

Honningkagehjerter or honey hearts, are a classic December or christmas treat. As a child I got at least one of these in my advent calendar during the month of December. Honey hearts are kinda like a gingerbread cookie, but more spongy. The chocolate adds some creaminess and sweetness. A honey heart is the taste of Christmas.

In Denmark it is the tradition to put a glossy picture of a Santa or an angel on the heart, which adds to the Christmas cheer.

You have to start up the pre-dough a little early, but the result is scrumptious, and well worth the effort. but if you want to take a shortcut make this Honey Cake instead, it's not the same thing, but a bit similar.

Makes 16-18 hearts.



  • 450 g honey
  • 450 g all-purpose flour


  • 900 g pre-dough, shredded
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 10 g potaske (Potassium carbonate (K₂CO₃))
  • 5 g ground cinnamon
  • 5 g ground ginger
  • 2½ g ground ground cloves
  • 2½ g ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, grated
  • 1 tablespoon water


200 g good dark chocolate, tempered

glossy pictures or icing and sprinkles




Pour honey in a small cooking saucepan and heat to 104-122℉ (40-50℃). Pour the warm honey into the flour and knead it until you have a smooth mixture. I did that in my stand mixer. Place the mixture in an airtight container, and place it in a cool dry place for about 4-6 weeks. The pre-dough will turn very hard. 


Preheat the oven to 350℉ (180℃). Line 3-4 bakings sheets with parchment paper, sprayed with baking spray and lightly floured. Set aside.

Mix the egg yolks with the potaske and set aside. Shred the hard pre-dough into you bowl for the stand mixer. Mix in the egg yolks, spices and zest. Start with your mixer on low for about 3 minutes. Then increase the speed to high and keep mixing for another 3 minutes. You end up with a smooth but somewhat sticky dough. If your dough seems to dry add a little water. 

Scrape the dough out on a work surface sprinkled with good layer of flour. Sprinkle more flour on top of dough and roll dough out to about ⅕-inch (5 mm) thickness. Make sure to keep flouring your dough, so the dough doesn't stick. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out hearts placing them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them with about 2-inches. Keep rolling the dough and cutting out hearts until all the dough is used up.

Bake hearts for 8-10 minutes. The hearts will be done when the cookie spring back when you gently press a finger in the center of the cookies. You don't want the cookies to deflate. 

Let the hearts cool completely on a wire rack. The hearts will be crispy at this point. So to soften them up store the cookies in the refrigerator in an airtight container, with a damp towel for 3-4 days. (Place the towel, so it won't touch the hearts.) As is the hearts will keep for weeks in the refrigerator.

When ready to eat, cover the hearts with tempered chocolate. Place a glossy picture centered on the heart. Or decorate with icing and sprinkles.


Pebernødder - Pfeffernüsse

Christmas, Cookies, HolidayTove Balle-Pedersen2 Comments
Pebernødder - Pfeffernüsse

Pebernødder - Pfeffernüsse

December 20. - Finally weekend in sight. Time to make paper decorations like the pleated heart. The first known pleated heart was made by Hans Christian Andersen the Danish author and poet.

Pebernødder mean pepper nuts and is one of the oldest christmas cookies in Denmark. Pebernødder are small spicy chrisp cookies, they are really yummy.

This recipe is from the Danish morning TV, but I cut the recipe in half, because I made other christmas cookies this year. 


  • 125 g salted butter, room temperature

  • 125 g sugar

  • ½ teaspoon ginger

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon white pepper

  • ½ teaspoon cardamom

  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • 50 ml heavy cream

  • 250 g all-purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 400℉ (200℃)

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer, until it's fluffy and white, add the cream.

Mix the dry ingredients and mix it in, and you will get at firm dough.

Roll the dough into logs as thick as your little finger, cut the dough into 1 cm pieces . 

You can roll them or just keep them as is.

Bake for 7-10 minutes to light brown.

Keep in an airtight container.

Elf Cookies - Nissehoveder

Cookies, Christmas, HolidayTove Balle-PedersenComment
Elf Cookies - Nissehoveder

Elf Cookies - Nissehoveder

December 11th - Time for remembrance.

I have never seen these elf cookies aka nissehoveder (elf heads) anywhere else than in my family. The cookies were very much appreciated by my brother and me, but I know my mom hated making these, because they are a bit labor-intensive. The cookie itself is straight forward and easy, but it's a sticky mess to cut out all the eyes and mouths. The first year I made them, I even had made a nose, but that was a bad idea, a bad bad idea.

Thank you mom and dad for teaching me to make elf cookies - I miss you guys so very much.

Here is how to make my family's elf cookies.


  • 250 g all-purpose flour

  • 200 g butter

  • 100 g confectionary sugar

  • 1 egg yolk


  • red and green cherries

  • confectionary sugar

  • water

  • red food coloring


Crumble the butter in the flour, until it looks like bread crumbs. Add the sifted confectionary sugar and the egg yolk and mix until it’s all combined.

Form dough into a rod with an inch in diameter. Press to form a top on the rod, this makes the elf hat. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Cut the green cherries into small cubes, these will be the eyes.

Cut the red cherries into quarters and slice the quarters, these will be the mouths.

Cut the logs into ¼-inch thick cookies and put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spacing about 1 inch apart. Place eyes and mouths on the cookies.

Bake until slightly golden around the edges, about 10-12 minutes at 350°F. Cool cookies on the pan on wire racks.

Icing: Mix confectionary sugar with a few drops of water and food coloring. Paint  the cookies with the red icing. Let the cookies dry on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


The Danish version:



  • 250 g hvedemel

  • 200 g smør

  • 100 g flormelis

  • 1 æggeblomme


  • røde og grønne cocktailbær

  • flourmelis

  • vand

  • rød frugtfarve.


Smørret smuldres i melet. Flormelis sigtes i og æltes let i dejen sammen med æggeblommen. 

Dejen formes til en pølse på godt og vel et kosteskafts tykkelse. 

Pølsen trykkes lidt i den ene side så den kommer til at spidse, gerne meget. Pølsen lægges i køleskabet i mindst 0,5 time. Herefter skæres den i tynde skiver med en skarp kniv. 

Når kagerne er kommet på bageplanden, pyntes de med øjne, og mund (cocktailbær). 

Herefter bages de i 7-8 min ved 200ºC. 

Inden de er helt afkølede kan nissehovederne få hue på, med lidt rød glasur.

Vanilla Wreaths - Vanillekranse

Cookies, Christmas, HolidayTove Balle-PedersenComment
Vanilla Wreaths - Vanillekranse

Vanilla Wreaths - Vanillekranse

Today is thew start of december and I'll be posting a christmas related post every day until christmas. This is my way of making a Advent Calendar for you. I hope you will enjoy  this.

The vanilla wreath, or Vanillekranse, is a classic Danish cookie. You'll find them in tins with Danish Butter Cookies. If you like the Danish Butter Cookies, you have to make these. They are so much better. 

Every year I bake cookies for christmas, and vanillekranse is always a given. In my house it’s not christmas without vanillekranse. They are one of my favorite cookies. I'm pretty sure that you'll find vanillekranse in every danish home at christmas time. 

Thinking about it, I should have done my homework better, when I met my now husband. I should had made sure that my favorite christmas cookies was his too. It could have saved me from hours in the kitchen, baking ;0) Well we all have to make sacrifices, right?

I have been trough a lot of different recipes for vanillekranse, but after tasting Mette Blomsterbergs, the search was over. These are by far the best vanilekranse I have ever had. So this is Mette Blomsterbergs recipe.


  • 1 vanilla pod (or half if it's a thick one)*

  • 200 g butter (salted and room temperature)

  • 180 g sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 250 g all-purpose flour

  • 75 g blanched** almonds, ground into flour


Spilt the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seed with the tip of a knife. Using the knife, mix the seeds with some sugar. This helps the seeds to distribute in the dough. You want an even distribution of seeds in the dough, like small black freckles.

Cream the sugar, vanilla seeds with the butter. Mix in the egg, finally mix in the ground almonds and flour. 

Put the dough into a decorationg bag with a star decorating tip. Pipe the dough in small circles approximately 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

The process

The process

If you have a stand mixer, a meat grinder attachment and a vanillekrans attachment to make stings of star shaped dough; you can do this instead of piping the cakes:

Chill the dough in the refrigerator overnight. Add the cold dough to the feeder on the grinder, and push it into the grinder, and long strings of star shaped dough comes out of the grinder. I do this on medium to high speed. You can also use a cookie press.

Place the strings of dough on the table, an cut them into 4 inch pieces. Join the ends to form a wreath, and place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 356℉ (180℃) until lightly golden about 10-14 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rag. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


* You can substitute the vanilla pods with 2 teaspoons vanilla paste.

** blanched is when the skin is removed from the almonds.


The danish Version:



  • 1 vanillestang (eller en halv polynesisk)*

  • 200 g smør (saltet og stuetemperatur)

  • 180 g sukker

  • 1 æg

  • 250 g hvedemel

  • 75 g smuttede** mandler, malet til mel

Vaniljestangen flækkes på den lange led og kornene skrabes ud med en lille kniv. Mas vaniljekornene og lidt af sukkeret sammen med en paletkniv, således at kornene skilles ad.

Vaniljesukker, sukker og det stuetempererede smør røres sammen. Rør ægget med i og tilsæt slutteligt mandelmel og hvedemel.

Dejen kommes i en stofsprøjtepose med en stjerne tyl & sprøjtes straks ud i "kranse" på bagepapir - diameter ca. 5 cm. Bages ved 200 grader til de er let gyldne - ca. 10 - 14 minutter.
Afkøles på bagerist og opbevares i tætsluttende dåse.

* Du kan erstatte vanillestangen med 2 tsk vanille pasta

** smuttede mandler, er mandler uden den brune hinde.