Christmas is a time of love, togetherness and, let’s be honest, good food. One of the highlights of the festive season is the many, many delicious sweets, cookies and cakes associated with this time of year. For this blogpost, we’ve chosen some easy and fun recipes that can be made (and enjoyed!) by the entire family.
So put on those aprons and let’s go crazy in the kitchen:
Chocolate bark is one the easiest and quickest sweets you could ever make, and the possibilities are endless; the most important thing is melting the chocolate right. To make chocolate bark, you’ll need:
- Dark, milk or white chocolate whole bars or melts
- Whatever toppings you would like; think nuts, caramel chunks, crushed candy canes, salted crackers, mini-marshmallows, sprinkles etc.
As mentioned above, chocolate bark is insanely easy to make and even smaller kids can help. Here’s how you do it:
Prep your topping of choice. Crush your candy canes and put your M&M’s, nuts, sprinkles etc. in bowls.
Melt your chocolate of choice. The easiest way is to put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and warm it in 20-30 second intervals, stirring after each one. Two or three rounds should be enough.
Spread the chocolate onto a piece of parchment with a spatula in a nice, even layer.
Go crazy with your toppings! Mix and match however you like.
The best part about chocolate bark is that you can make a lot of it no time at all!
Pebernødder or “pepper nuts” are a traditional Danish Christmas cookie; these bite-sized treats are a quintessential part of any Danish Christmas, and they are sold by the ton in supermarkets all over the country. You can also find variations of the recipe in other Nordic countries. Pebernødder are easy to make with the entire family, and even small children can help make the little round balls of dough.
- 175 grams of sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of rich cream (around 38% fat)
- 250 grams of wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon of baking powder or baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon of ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon of ground cloves
- 100 grams of butter
Roll up your sleeves and let’s get baking:
Whisk the egg and sugar to a fluffy mass and stir in the cream. Mix the flour with the spices and crumble the butter into the mix. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Spread a thin layer of flour and roll the dough into sticks approximately 2 centimeters thick. Cut the sticks into small pieces (the size of nuts) and roll them into small balls. With a small plastic knife or dough scraper, the kids can easily help with this part, and they will love to roll all the cookies.
Place the cookies on a piece of parchment and bake them in the top part of the oven for approximately 10 minutes on 200° until they are golden and delicious.
Sugar cookies are pretty basic to make and they usually have a soft vanilla flavor, but that’s not important; the fun part about sugar cookies isn’t actually the taste – it’s the cutting and decorating!
- 280 grams of wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon of baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 170 grams of soft (not melted!), unsalted butter
- 150 grams of sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Here’s the how-to:
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in one bowl and set aside. In a larger bowl, mix the butter and sugar together on high speed using a stand mixer or hand mixer until it’s smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue mixing on high speed. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix on a lower speed until combined. The dough will be relatively soft, but if it seems way to sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour.
Lightly flour two pieces of parchment. Divide the dough into two equal parts and place each part on a piece of parchment. Roll the dough out evenly (sprinkle more flour if needed) until you reach your desired thickness; the thinner the cookies, the crispier. Lightly dust the dough with flour and place another piece of parchment on top. Stack the two pieces of rolled dough on top of each other with the parchment in between, cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and put the dough in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours; the dough can last up to 2 days in the fridge, so if you have family coming over for a batch-baking day, you can easily prep in advance.
When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 175° and prepare your baking sheets with parchment or baking mats. Because you already rolled the dough in advance, you and the kids can dig right in with the cookie cutters. Make sure to roll and cut any remaining dough again to minimize waste. Bake the cookies evenly for 11-12 minutes and let them cool completely before decorating.
You can use ready-made icing, or make your own with two ingredients:
- 1 pasteurized egg white
- App. 150 grams of powdered sugar
Whisk the egg white until it’s fluffy and slowly add the powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Easy-peasy!
If you want different colors, simply divide the icing into smaller bowls and use fruit coloring to dye the icing. Now, let the kids run wild with icing and sprinkles!
Aaah, æbleskiver... Another integral part of Christmas in Denmark. Æbleskiver (or literally “apple slices” in English) are definitely NOT as healthy as they sound. These tasty little treats got their – very misleading – name many years ago, as people actually did traditionally put small slices of apple or sometimes prunes in the middle of the dough. Today that is a rarity, but some families do still follow their traditional recipes. Æbleskiver is an integral part of Christmas in Denmark, and they are usually enjoyed with jam, sugar and powdered sugar, but you could also eat them with syrup or melted chocolate.
To try your hand at æbleskiver you’ll need:
- 250 grams of wheat flour
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar
- 4 deciliters of milk
- 100 grams of melted butter (+ more to cook)
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
Some people also like to add a few drops of lemon juice or lemon zest.
Now, a keen eye may have spotted that this recipe is quite similar to recipes for waffles or pancakes. And yes, the dough itself is similar to other kinds of fried/baked treats. What sets æbleskiver apart is the special pan used to make them. A pan for æbleskiver usually has 5 or 9 half-dome shaped holes, which is what gives them their special, round shape! If you do not have a pan like this, you can use a pan for blinis or poffertjes (both small pancake-like treats) or maybe a waffle iron. Just be aware that the dough is quite thin.
The dough is really easy to make:
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Use an electric whisk to slowly add in the milk and melted butter. Whisk it thoroughly to avoid lumps, and add the eggs as the final ingredient while whisking continuously. There, all done!
Now, for the cooking. If you have an æbleskive pan (or a blinis or poffertjes pan) start by greasing each hole by melting a little butter in them (you’ll have to grease again between every round). Now pour in the dough. The dough will rise, so leave 0,5-1 centimeter of space to the edge. As the dough cooks, the edges will harden. When the bottom is no longer sticking to the pan, but the center is still liquid (check by gently wiggling them to see if they swivel easily, use a fork or an aluminum knitting pin), turn the æbleskive upside down. The liquid dough in the middle will run into the hole below and bake like the top half. This way, you should end up with some nice, round æbleskiver, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. It might take a few tries to get them perfect, but hey, the cook gets to eat all the (delicious) failures, right?
Homemade marshmallows are a fun and delicious treat, and they are much easier to make than you might think!
- 12 gelatin leaves
- The grains from 1 vanilla pod
- 400 grams of sugar
- 2 dl water
- 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar
- Preferably a sugar thermometer, alternatively a cooking thermometer
If you would like to try peppermint flavored marshmallows, add 4 drops of peppermint essence.
Here’s the how to:
Let the gelatin leaves soak in a bowl of cold water. Mix the vanilla grains with the sugar, and let the sugar, water and vanilla boil in a pot until it reaches 118 degrees. Remove the pot from the heat, wring the excess moisture from the gelatin leaves and put them in the warm sugar mass. Stir it well and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Pour the sugar mass in a bowl and whisk it, either with a stand mixer or hand mixer. Whisk the mass until it’s thick and stiff; it’ll take around 10-15 minutes. If you want additional color or flavor, besides vanilla, add it a few minutes before you’re done whisking.
Spread a good layer of powdered sugar onto a piece of parchment, and spread the marshmallow-mass onto the parchment. Sprinkle powdered sugar again and smooth the surface of the marshmallows to make it nice and even, without pressing down. Cover them and let them cool for a few hours or until the next day. Then, you can cut them into squares with a pair of scissors and roll them all in powdered sugar to keep them from sticking together. Enjoy them as they are, or put them in a cup of hot chocolate.