Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chocolate cookies, or Märtas skurna chokladkakor

Most, if not all, Swedish families have a copy of Sju sorters kakor in their cookbook collection. The name, which literally means "Seven types of cookies/cakes", refers to the Swedish (and probably Finnish/Finlandish (yes, there is a difference) - or so my Granny has led me to believe) tradition of serving at least seven different types of baked sweets during a syjunta (sowing circle) or kafferep (lit. coffee rope) - think English High Tea, but with coffee and sowing or knitting instead of tea and scones. Sju sorters kakor was first published in 1945, following a competition in which homebakers all over the country were asked to send in their best cake/cookie/bun recipes, and the winners' recipes were published in this book. Today, more than 60 years after its first publication, this book is the over-all most sold book in Sweden, and more than one in three Swedes own a copy.

With a history like this, it is safe to say that everyone in Sweden has either baked or tasted something from this book. One likely culprit is Märtas skurna chokladkakor, or "Märta's cut cookies". I've been making these since I was about twelve, an all-time favourite in the cookie jar. They're also useful if you need a favour from someone, or as a bribe. Simple, all-purpose, dead-simple to make cookies. What more do you need?

Märtas skurna chokladkakor, from Sju sorters kakor, p. 94


200 g. butter, softened
250 ml brown sugar (regular works fine, too, I just like brown better)
500 ml all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp Cacao
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vanilla sugar / extract
1 egg

For the glaze:
1 egg, slightly beaten
chopped almonds

Pre-heat oven to 200 °C / 390 °F.
Mix everything together in a bowl; the dough should be smooth and pliable.
Divide dough into six parts, and roll them out into equally long strips. Place them on a baking tray, greased or lined with a baking sheet or silpat. Flatten them somewhat with your hands. Brush with the egg, and sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, or until slightly crackled on top. While still warm, cut them into slanted rectangles, or parallelograms if you are mathematically inclined.

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