Sandkaker / Norwegian “Sand cakes”
On today’s Christmas dessert table stood the traditional Norwegian Sandkaker or “Sand cakes”. The recipe is an old family one, coming from the baking legend, Auntie Esther. It makes a very simple, yet rich and buttery tart-shell like cookie, which actually can be filled with fruit, cream or pudding, similar to a mini-tart. In our family, though, we just eat them plain, which I find more than ok and an interesting alternative to standard holiday sugar cookies.
A major part of the appeal of Sandkaker is the adorable tins in which they are baked. My mother has a healthy stash of them, some older and less sanitary-looking than others. Auntie Esther always claimed that no butter was needed before pressing the dough into the forms. Important, however, is that they should not be washed between uses, so that they remain well-seasoned and can more easily release the finished cookies. Next time I might go the way of washing, buttering and flouring them, as it was a bit difficult to get the cakes out of the forms in the end. Nevertheless, they are a delicious example of Nordic holiday tastes. Happy Christmas!
1 pound (454 grams) butter at room temperature
1 ½ cups (250 grams) sugar
2 egg whites
3 ½ cups (450 grams) flour
2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg whites and mix well. Stir in extracts and flour.
2. Bring dough together quickly into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, ideally overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 350° F (175°C). Cut off a small piece of dough, form into a small disk and press evenly into the form, as if it were a pie base. Repeat with all forms.
4. Place the forms onto a baking tray and into the oven.
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove from oven and turn tins upside down so that as they cool, the cakes are released.