A Norwegian Tradition – Hidden From the Internet until Now

Happy New Years, friends! It’s been an interesting year here in Emeralds and Ampersands land, what with the beginning of the blog, a new found love of soccer, and much hands-on creating that we like to do here. Hell, I even met Macklemore at the day job. Seems I have a charmed life, or, as someone told me recently, I must actually “have my shit together.” Who knew? 

Interestingly enough, it turns out that my family have taken a bit of an interest in my creative endeavours. Sister A of the Great Fudge Debacle of 2001 took some time on Christmas day to describe another family tradition – one steeped in separated eggs, cardamom, and the occasional grease fire. 

So without further ado -my  first guest post!

Krumkake – A journey

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Rolled Perfection

When I first moved out of my parents’ home, I made sure a recipe box was one of my first acquisitions. I spent way too much time copying over many of my favorite recipes from home until my hand cramped. The truth is, I didn’t use it much, except for maybe a couple specific recipes. As I look through it now, I wonder, “why he hell do I have this?” I’m pretty sure I have carpal tunnel, so why would I waste all that time to meticulously copy a recipe onto an index card?”

Whatever, that is not what this is about. This is a story about a lost recipe.

These days, I use Pinterest for recipes. I was pretty late to the bandwagon in general, but it is super handy, and I can keep everything organized with cute little pictures, and I can usually figure out what’s for dinner while searching on my phone shortly before I get home. Because I store recipes this way, I have little to no use for the recipe box in the top of my cabinet, except for TWO recipes – both of which I needed today. One is for lefse, which was not hard to miss because it is oversized and doesn’t fit just right, and it is laminated (which is a great idea, if you’ve ever made lefse).

(Editor’s note: AKA Bonnie here: Lefse is another one of those Norwegian specialties that my family and Ballardites agree are worth the EXTREME effort for. Think a very thin potato tortilla grilled on and extremely hot griddle and you’ll have the idea. That and so much flour you’ll look like a Golden Girl for the next few days.)

The other one is for krumkake (pronounced “crum-kaka”). It is a Norwegian cookie that I had promised to make and bring in to work the next day. I NEEDED it. I remembered almost exactly how to make it in my head, the ingredients, the steps, but that doesn’t cut it. I’m not the first person to say this, but cooking is an art, and baking is a science. I couldn’t wing this one.

So, I picked up my phone and searched “krumkake”.I got some hits, but they weren’t the recipes I was looking for. They were either plus or minus a few ingredients or the process was what I considered “lazy” i.e.: throw all ingredients into a bowl and mix.

Let’s get something clear right now – krumkake is no easy feat. It’s labor-intensive and totally worth it. As Bonnie says – “if you aren’t using every bowl in your house, you aren’t doing it right”. So, knowing a little about how Google works, I modified my search. I’m pretty sure that by the time I was done, I was searching “krumkake cream beat egg whites cardamom cornstarch”. NOTHING. The internet was wrong? How could this be?

The only people I could ask for the recipe were B and my mom, and they were both not at home. Then I remembered – I’ve been missing my copy of the recipe for a long time. I’ve done this before. Then I remembered my mom emailed me the recipe a couple years ago (the last time I realized it was lost). I searched my email and THERE IT WAS.

A Christmas Miracle!

This is sort of a family recipe, sort of not. My family is Norwegian, but my Grandma didn’t really make the traditional stuff. My mom learned her stuff from my great-grandma, but that isn’t where this recipe comes from. It comes from an old family friend – Mrs. T, who was a Lutheran pastor’s wife and pretty much rocked it when it came to Norwegian baking. My mom has been making this same recipe forever; it’s pretty popular at bake sales and cookie exchanges. If you live in Seattle, you probably don’t have to ask many people before you find a Norwegian and their mom/sister/grandmother/great-grandmother, etc. used to make krumkake around Christmas. It’s just what you do. Make sure to celebrate “Hug A Norwegian Day” with those people as well (It is November 22nd).

Did I mention you are going to need a special iron to make these? Oh yeah. I have a pretty snazzy electric one that can apparently be purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond, or you can go the super archaic route and get a cast-iron one that goes on the stove – but I used to have one and it is super messy (hence the grease fires.)

The right way to make krumkake:

If you don’t have a Kitchenaid Mixer, I hope you are an Olympic lifter, because you are going to need forearms of steel for the type of mixing necessary to do this right. (You can also rock a hand mixer if  the cooking gods have not granted your Kitchenaid wishes.)

1 c. sugar
½ c. melted butter
1 t. vanilla
3 eggs, separated
1½ c. flour
½ c. whipping cream, whipped stiff
1 t. cardamom
2 T. corn starch

First, beat the egg whites stiff. Just put the egg whites in the bow (very clean)l with the whisk attachment and crank that baby on high. It should look like a foam party in your bowl by the time you are done.Transfer the egg whites to another bowl (See where this is going? Gather a ton of extra small to medium bowls).

Wash your mixing bowl , and then do the same thing to the heavy cream – whip the crap out of it until it is thick. Remove it to still another bowl. Wash main bowl again. Beat egg yolks (you can use the plain mixing attachment at this point) and then add sugar, melted butter, and vanilla and mix well.

In still another bowl, mix together the flour, corn starch, and cardamom. Add the whipped cream and the egg whites to the sugar mixture and mix. Add in the flour mixture and mix. Make sure to scrape the sides and (especially) the bottom of the bowl. If the egg whites and whipped cream are not mixed in pretty well, there can be separation at the bottom of the bowl and it ruins the last few krumkake. (The egg white sort of burns off, leaving holes and a brittle texture.)

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Golden Brown Goodness

So anyways, bake on a preheated krumkake iron. Even Teflon-coated irons need some oil starting out, but then you can just coat them every 10 or so. Non-coated ones need to be regularly oiled to prevent sticking.

Krumkake can be left flat or rolled into cone shapes on the wooden mandrel that comes with the iron. Keeping them flat means they are easier to store, eat and transport, but if you roll them, it has to be done immediately (but then you could add an optional filling [kind of like a cannoli]). Personally, I think they go great to eat with coffee. (Personally, I think they are great to eat with anything. And booze. Always that.)

<3/ A

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