Yngve and I traveled to my mother-in-law’s yesterday to pick out our Christmas tree and to bake cookies.
Every year around Christmas I go over to her place and we make some sort of cookie together. The last two years we made Goro, but this year she wanted to make Fattigmann.
Besides krumkake, fattigmann are probably one of the more well known Norwegian cookies, they appear in several of my vintage cookbooks- even ones that aren’t Scandinavian in origin. There’s a reason for that- they are hella addictive, and for good reason.
“Fattigmann” means “poor man”- but I’m pretty sure it’s not because they are poor man’s cookies- its more likely because baking them will make you poorer. Or would, in a time when things like cream and eggs were much more expensive.
Stor kokebok has three recipes for fattigmannsbakkels- the first calls for 1/2 liter of cream and 30 (THIRTY!!) egg yolks. Even more modern recipes call for anywhere between 5-10 egg yolks and quite a bit of cream. Yowzers. Imagine how much that might have cost 150 years ago?
The recipes for fattigmann are easy to find, and are pretty standard. The US organization “Sons of Norway” has a recipe on their website, here.
As the recipe calls for the dough to be made the day before and allowed to stand overnight in a cool place, Yngve’s mom made the dough on Saturday and we came over and baked on Sunday.
I found the dough to be really difficult to work with, but that might have been my inexperience. Apparently, you are supposed to add as little flour as possible when rolling to keep the cookies light and tender. I had trouble keeping the dough from sticking when I first tried rolling them out.
I eventually succumbed to the sin of adding what was probably too much flour, but it made them so much easier to roll out and to be honest, I couldn’t really tell the difference in taste between those and the ones with less flour- but maybe that’s a result of my unrefined palette.
I really sucked at cutting them out into an even diamond shape. oops. I guess that comes with experience- but I suppose perfect or imperfect, they all taste the same. (Yngve’s mom said: “The men will eat them no matter how they look, it is us women who are obsessed with making them just so, and only for ourselves.”)
Anyway, so after you cut them out, you stick one of the diamond tips through the slit in the center, then drop them into hot fat to fry.
We used delfiafett, which is solid coconut fat and is used here quite often around Christmas for various cookies, cakes and “confekt.”
They are crisp like a cookie, not soft like a doughnut. Like many Norwegian “cookies” they are less sweet than what is common in America, but a bit richer.
They are ridiculously good, and it is really hard to eat just one. (and really bad for my weight loss progress.) We brought a huge tin of them home with us to go with the krumkaker and goro (and the other 5 cookies I’m about to make).
However, I have decided to be unusually clever and remove the cookies from temptation. (because you’re not supposed to be eating them before Christmas, anyway) In our apartment building we have a great big cellar that is divided up into compartments to which every apartment is assigned one. Our apartment building is older, so we have shelves that I presume were probably used for canned goods and preserves at one time as well as a big box for storing potatoes. It is cold down there, so I have packaged all the cookies (and those awesome rum balls) into boxes and stored them on the shelves in the cellar.
I am entirely too lazy to dig around to find the keys to the cellar, then go all the way down there and unlock all the doors to get to our little compartment just to dig out a krumkake. Even if they ARE that good. Its nice and cool down there and it isn’t damp, so they’ll keep just fine.
As I make the rest of my Norwegian Christmas cookies, I’ll put them in tins and stick ’em down there on the shelf- out of my sticky little fingers and in safekeeping to give as gifts. (I can’t give them away if they’re all in my belly now can I?)
I’ll be back tomorrow, but not with another Christmas cookie recipe- that will have to wait until Thursday when I make Bordstabels. Tomorrow’s post is a bit of a surprise, so you’ll just have to wait. (hint: it IS indeed something edible.)