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Published December 03, 2013, 03:19 PM

Home with the Lost Italian: Krumkake a delicate delight

The holiday baking season is officially underway, and we are excited by the recipes we have already received in our Holiday Heritage Recipe Contest.

By: Tony and Sarah Nasello, INFORUM

The holiday baking season is officially underway, and we are excited by the recipes we have already received in our Holiday Heritage Recipe Contest.

The recipes being shared with us include cookies and bars and Old World favorites like Icelandic Pönnukökur, Bavarian Creme and Croatian Ustipke. We’ve even had our first international entry, from Lily Erlic in Victoria, B.C.

However, many of you have expressed that you would like to include a picture with your recipe, but weren’t ready to start your holiday baking until after Thanksgiving. To help you out, we’re extending the deadline for your recipe submissions until Dec. 11.

The winner will receive a brand-new Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, and we hope this extra time will entice you to share your favorite generational recipes and stories with us.

Baking for the holidays is a tradition I enjoyed with my mom and sisters when I was growing up, and one that I continue today with our son, Giovanni. Baking is a terrific way to share your heritage with others, and even though his name might be Giovanni Nasello, my son is lucky enough to have a small amount of Norwegian in his system.

This year one of our goals is to learn how to make the classic Norwegian specialties my mother created every Christmas season: krumkake, rosettes, and sandbakkel cookies.

A couple weeks ago, the Scheels Home and Hardware store in Fargo hosted an event called “Taste of the Holidays,” which featured turkey tastings as well as lefse and krumkake demonstrations. With our holiday baking goal in mind, Gio and I set out that Saturday afternoon to learn how to make krumkake.

Krumkake means bent or curved cookie, and I can remember watching my mother as she skillfully handled the traditional (and very hot) stovetop iron, nimbly rolling each cookie into a lovely, lacy waffle cone. Every Norwegian family seems to have their own preferences when it comes to color and texture, and my mother made her krumkake golden brown and paper thin.

The woman at Scheels used an electric iron to make her krumkake, which made the process look so easy it almost seemed like cheating. Her krumkake came out perfectly, and Gio was in love after his very first bite.

We knew that it was time for us to make our own krumkake, and we set off to my mother’s house to borrow her stovetop iron, which has been in retirement since the last of her five children reached adulthood.

Using the recipe we received at the cooking demonstration, we made our batter and eagerly waited for the iron to become hot. Once ready, we spooned some batter onto the press and closed it. I nervously guarded the very, very hot iron, becoming increasingly concerned about Gio, or me, getting badly burned.

What started out as a fun experiment quickly morphed into an experience of paranoia, shouted warnings to “stay away from the stove,” and failure. After almost a dozen attempts, not one of our krumkake was edible.

Uff da! What a waste of a good stick of butter.

Rather than accept defeat, we hopped in the car and sped on over to Scheels to pick up an electric iron.

Twenty minutes later we were happily making beautiful krumkake, with Gio handling the iron as I rolled the cookies, golden brown and paper thin just like my mom used to make.

Norwegian Krumkake

This is the recipe we received at the demonstration, which is from Mrs. J.D. Midgarden, of Hoople, N.D. We added ¼ cup of heavy cream to the batter to create the paper-thin texture.

Even though the staple ingredients of butter, sugar, flour and eggs remain constant, krumkake recipes can vary greatly, and we would love to have you share your family recipe with us.

Ingredients:

3 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cardamom and/or vanilla

½ cup melted butter (one stick)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted flour

¼ cup heavy cream (optional to adjust level of thickness)

Directions:

Beat eggs until thick (about 2 to 3 minutes with an electric mixer). Add sugar gradually. Add flour and melted butter alternately, ending with flour. Add cardamom and vanilla and mix to combine.

Put one teaspoon of batter on hot krumkake iron; when edges are slightly browned, remove with table knife and shape over a wooden cone or spoon handle. If the batter gets too thick, a little cream may be added to thin it.

Tips:

• Cardamom is a common ingredient in Scandinavian baking, but this distinctive spice is quite expensive and unfortunately has no substitute. We have made this recipe with and without it (but always with vanilla), and found both versions delicious.

• For added flavor, add a ½ teaspoon of almond extract.

• Krumkake can be served plain, but is also good filled with fresh berries and whipped cream, or dipped in chocolate. Gio loves to spread a little Nutella inside before eating.

• Adjust the amount of batter used to control the size of the krumkake cones. When served by itself, we prefer larger cookies, but if setting out on a platter among other goodies, we recommend making small cookies.

Home with the Lost Italian is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owns Sarello’s restaurant in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 8-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at dine@sarellos.com. All previous recipes can be found at http://thelostitalian.areavoices.com

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