I have been a busy bee the last couple days! Yesterday I made some ridiculously good rum balls, today the husband and I were all over town buying Christmassy things to decorate with- including a cute little vintage-style Christmas tree stand for our Christmas tree. I also got the second of the seven Norwegian Christmas cookies done, but we’ll get to those in a moment.
First, let me tell you about those fabulous rum balls.
I’m sure most of you are familiar with Rum Balls. If you are not, they are a sort of confection made from crushed cookies, cocoa powder, nuts, and a binder (usually a thick syrup of some kind- it can be corn syrup or golden syrup or even honey) and then doused with spirits of some variety. They aren’t baked or cooked in any way, so they keep their alcohol flavor quite well.
They were crazy popular in the US during the 1960’s, and have sort of held on as a Christmas staple- albeit a slightly dated one. I hadn’t had (or thought of) rum balls in ages, but I came across a recipe for them in one of my vintage cookbooks that got me thinking about them.
The cookbook is called “Charleston Receipts” and is a compilation of recipes compiled by the Junior League of Charleston in 1950. (Which, strangely enough, I found at a Salvation Army store here in Trondheim! You never know what you’ll find if you just look!) You can actually still buy the cookbook from the Charleston Junior League here. (Actually, I just checked and they’re currently out of stock for this one! Check back later I suppose or maybe you can get one used on Amazon or something- its a really neat cookbook.)
Anyway, the recipe in Charleston Receipts is actually called “Whiskey Cookies” and contains some fairly southern ingredients, like pecans and dark corn syrup, aka Karo syrup, which I call the maple syrup of the south. *snicker* So I got to thinking- why couldn’t I make rum balls out of more regional Norwegian ingredients? Make ’em sort of like rum balls with a twist?
So, that’s just what I did.
Instead of using the standard vanilla wafer common to most rum ball recipes, I bought a little container of Pepperkake cookies (Norwegian cookies similar to gingerbread cookies, but a bit lighter in color) I used those as the base.
I then used toasted almonds as the nut ingredient since almonds are used in SO many Norwegian recipes. They are crazy over almonds here.
Instead of rum or whiskey I used some brandy because that’s what I had. So I guess technically, they’re brandy balls, not rum balls, but that just sounds stupid so, whatever.
Traditionally, American rum balls tend to be just rolled in plain ol powdered sugar. While I tend to sort of like traditional presentation, I sort of feel like this makes them look a little dated. You see the little powdered sugar covered things on the holiday table and you’re just like
So I thought I’d mix it up a little. Make rum balls a little exciting, you know- make you go
what is that amazing looking confection there on your holiday table, friend?
They look way too fabulous to be rum balls!”
See? Way better than the usual.
I mean, rum balls taste good, they should look just as pretty as they taste, shouldn’t they?
So after I had made them, I coated them in five different coatings.
First, I dipped some in plain milk chocolate with some little chocolate sprinkles on top
Then, I rolled some in cocoa powder
Then, because I couldn’t help sticking with tradition a little bit, powdered sugar
Then, I crushed some leftover pepperkake into dust and rolled some in those. I really like the golden effect it has.
Lastly, my favorite. I also dipped this one in chocolate, but I piped a little swirl on top in white chocolate and added a little silver dragée for added flair. Also, I bought some little mini confection papers and put each rum ball inside one. Those little touches really made them seem a lot more special and less boring than a standard rum ball.
They looked especially pretty put into a little tin, packaged up to be taken to someone as a gift.
Now, if you’d like the recipe and detailed instructions on how I made these, you can click here, or find the recipe in the recipe bar at the top of the page.
This is going to be a long one, guys.
Alright, lets get on with why you’re really here… Norwegian cookies, right?
Today I made Goro, another type of pressed cookie. Yngve says Goro means “well off” which we suppose is because of the amount of rich ingredients in these cookies. They contain eggs, heavy cream and lots and lots and lots of butter. I reckon if you were able to afford the ingredients to make these, you must have been “well off.”
Instead of a batter poured into an iron, you make a dough which you cut out and place into the iron. They also crisp up as they cool, and despite also being flavored with cardamom, they have a completely different texture than krumkaker. They’re almost like crackers- but with the slightest hint of sweetness. They sort of remind me a little bit of shortbread cookies. Like krumkaker, they are traditionally made with an iron that is heated on the stove, but since I have a ceramic cook top that isn’t so conducive to such things, I’ve borrowed my mother in laws electric iron instead.
My old Norwegian cookbook strangely is devoid of a recipe for Goro, so my recipe came from a Christmas edition of a weekly ladies magazine published here. You can find recipes for Goro easily online, there is one from about.com here that looks similar to the one I made.
The dough is a little tricky to work with as it needs to be chilled so it can be properly rolled out, but it can’t be too cold or else it will be too hard to roll. There is a delicate balance you have to walk between too firm and too soft. You have to work in small amounts so your dough doesn’t get too warm. These were a little bit different from the ones I made last year with my mother in law- we used an old recipe from one of her mothers cookbooks and her old iron with an absolutely gorgeous design on it. The consistency of the dough was different and the old iron makes really thin crackers as opposed to the more modern ones that make them much thicker.
You should cut out a piece of paper to match the size of your goro iron before getting started, you will need this to use as a template for cutting the rolled out dough.
Also, I put the trimmings back in the bowl and combined some of the trimmings with the new dough- that way I’m not re-rolling out just the trimmings that have extra flour and everything added, which changes the consistency and flavor. Its better to add some trimmings to the new dough so everything evens out a bit in the end.
Anyway, just place your cut out dough into the iron and close the lid:
Then, when they have cooked to a nice golden color like so:
you want to trim any rough edges off (nibbles for the cook!) and cut the crackers along the “seams.” Do this as soon as they come off the iron- like krumkaker, they crisp as they cool. If you wait they’ll be too brittle to trim and will break.
Now we have goro!
Continue the process until you’ve run out of dough and you are left with a mile-high stack of goro.
This can be fairly monotonous and time consuming (it took about 2 hours for me to bake them all) so I suggest cranking up some awesome Christmas tunes and dancing in the kitchen while you wait for each one to bake.
Also, it is nice to have something tasty to drink after all that baking and dancing. If you are a kid in Norway, you eagerly await the sale of “julebrus” or, “Christmas Soda” each year. If you are an adult, you buy them to re-live your childhood in each nostalgic sip. I had one along with my baking tonight. It tastes a little bit like A&W cream soda.
Righto, thats that for Cookie number two! Tomorrow we’re headed to my mother in laws for some more Christmas fun. We’ll be making Fattigmans Bakkels, a deep fried (omg the calories!) cookie type thing. I’ll be sure to try and document the process as best as possible!
Hope you enjoyed this one too, see yall again soon.