The crisp exterior and soft interior is such a satisfying texture, and the taste of Hartshorn is amazing in these cute Christmas Men! I directly translated the name of these cookies, because I like the name. It’s cute. These are cookies that we only bake during the Christmas Holidays, and that gives them a little more festive and nostalgic feeling.
It’s a cookie that has been around for so long, no one really knows where it originated from. I have been reading about some of the ingredients in order to give you American or International alternatives.
And that’s when I got into reading about Hartshorn/baking ammonia (Norwegian: Hjortetakksalt), and it was really interesting. If a recipe calls for Hartshorn, the chances are that it’s very likely to be an old recipe. Harthorn was (emphasis on was) made from the ground-up antlers of a hart (the term for a male deer.) It could also be obtained by distilling hair or decomposed urine (source). That is not the case any more, so fear not, Rudolph has not gone down in the making of these Christmas Men!
Hartshorn is an easy rising agent to work with as it doesn’t need to react with anything other than heat, so you don’t have to be careful with the dough and you can leave it for as long as you want. I like to leave it overnight. It is very important to use Hartshorn or Hjortetakksalt in these cookies, or else you will not get the right flavor nor texture. I cannot vouch for how the Christmas Men will turn out using baking powder, as I am pretty sure it won’t be remotely the same.
Hartshorn taste like Christmas, it’s strong, almost like ammonia but I promise you it’s delicious! They will get a crispy exterior and soft interior and they are perfect with a cup of Scandinavian mulled wine, the gløgg, or a cup of hot chocolate.
Christmas comfort at its best!
Snuggle up by the fire, decorate your Christmas tree while you sip on gløgg and nibble on these Christmas Men.
Easy recipe, and that’s what we like. As much as I enjoy being in the kitchen, I also enjoy just hanging by the fire with comforting cookies like these. They are also fun to decorate! The picture below shows the traditional Christmas men and women in Norway.
Add flour, Hartshorn and vanilla bean sugar in a large bowl. Mix butter (not melted) and sugar until it’s well incorporated. Heat milk and add in one egg, be careful not to have too hot milk. Aim for around body temperature. Add the sugar butter into the dry ingredients, give it a mix, and then add in the milk mixture. The dough will be slightly sticky, but don’t worry. Leave it a cold spot overnight or at least 2 hours.
The next day, knead flour into the dough and knead well before you roll it with a rolling pin. I would suggest to take 1/3 of the dough each time, and leave the rest on a cold spot. Roll out to around 5-6 mm thick. Use your favorite cookie cutters to create the shapes you like. I prefer to use some small and some larger, the small will get crispier but the larger ones will have a softer interior. Both are delicious, but I think I prefer the larger ones (also crispy on the outside).
Heat your oven to around 180-200C (350-400F). Bake for about 10 minutes. They are not supposed to get much color, only to get a slight browning of the edges. Take one cookie out and tap the backside, and if the sound is hollow, they are done. Make sure you check each tray a few times during baking, as the oven tend to get a little hotter on the last trays (at least my ancient oven does). Just turn your temperature down or cut down on the baking time. All I am saying is to keep an eye on them.
Other Christmas treats:
- Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Chocolate and Coffee Cupcakes with Irish Baileys Frosting
- Cranberry Sangria
- Rich and Decadent Hot Chocolate
Tell me what you think of these delicious Christmas Men, either in the comment section below, or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later!
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