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Thursday, March 26, 2015

BAKING: Vaniljekranse (Danish butter cookies)

Apart from the local kuih kapit, Danish butter cookies were my favorite - assorted shapes and textures encased in little stacks with paper cases, then all arranged in a deep blue round tin. It never occurred to me how expensive they were until I starting doing grocery shopping.

I always loved how delightfully crumbly they were. Rich, but still light enough to melt in your mouth at the first bite. My favorites were the textured circle shape and the plain rectangle cookie. *starts hallucinating*

I don't know about other places, but it costs about MYR20-30 for a tin of these cookies, which is quite pricey IMO. So when all else fails, you Google a recipe for Danish butter cookies.

I came across two recipes on two different websites. Nordic Food & Living uses almond flour and a vanilla bean, while Wallflower Girl used vanilla bean paste and icing sugar in place of granulated sugar. I chose to use the latter because it seemed simpler.

You will need:

  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 130g icing sugar
  • 310g plain flour
  • 1 large egg (the recipe called for free-range)
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence (the original recipe uses vanilla bean paste)
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • granulated sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
A few things I'd point out first is to make sure you use a sturdy piping bag - I used the disposable plastic ones, and the nozzle popped out toward the end. Piping the cookies out requires a bit of elbow grease, but the rest of the process is a breeze.

The traditional method would be to shape the cookies into circles with a piping bag fitted with a star-shaped nozzle, but you could use a cookie press, or just spoon them into dollops onto the baking sheet. I used a twisted star nozzle instead of a traditional star nozzle.

To make them:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180'C, and line one or more baking sheets with baking or parchment paper (anything that will help the cookies lift later).
  2. Cream the butter and icing sugar till creamy.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except the milk. I put in the flour last as I didn't want to overwork the gluten, but it might be wise to do it alternately. Adjust the texture with a bit of milk, no more than 2 tbsp. It should form a sticky dough that clumps to itself.
  4. Put your cookies on a baking sheet. They should be no more than 5cm in diameter, and don't spread out too much, so you could cramp them on the tray just a little.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Mine took 12 minutes at the most, and the gave a nice golden brown color to the edges of the cookies. I kept most of them blonde, though.
  6. Let them cool a little on the tray, then transfer to a wire rack and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.

They soft when they first come out of the oven, but will continue to firm and crisp up as it cools. As for the ones I made, they were lacking a little in that rich butter flavor, and they were crunchy instead of the firm and crumbly that they're supposed to be, but I attribute that to overmixing of the dough.

It was surprisingly easy. Even the part I dreaded the most - folding in the flour - took little to no work at all.

A few things to be aware of would be to make sure to use really good butter, as well as a good quality vanilla, since these are the determining factors of whether the cookie will come out tasting good.

Best washed down with a glass of milk, or as an accompaniment to a cup of tea or two. For best results, dip in melted chocolate or Nutella.


  1. How long have you been baking? I'm still a beginner and I tried to bake the other day but I started off with a tough food to bake. AHHAHA This one looks quite easy! I think I'l give it a try! :D