My Danish friend Ulla, who opens a coffee shop in Berlin next January, is a great cook and also knows how to bake the most delicious cookies. For her traditional Advent Party she made eight different versions, among which these crispy ginger cookies with raw licorice powder. Cookies with licorice? It may sound odd, but the Danes love it. And, actually, it’s quite delicious. In Denmark, you can buy special licorice powder in small packages, but you can also order it online: http://www.liquorice.nu. No worries if you can’t get your hands on it: the cookies are good without it as well.
In addition to these cookies, Ulla makes an enormous pot of Glögg, a Nordic kind of mulled wine. Traditionally prepared with red wine (and almonds), she prepares hers with white. Ulla’s version of Glögg is less sweet and beautifully golden. And do not give the kids the apricots, please! Of course, you can turn the Glögg into a non-alcoholic version by replacing all the wine with apple juice and leaving the soaked apricots out.
Drink, about 3 quarts/3 liter
Action Time: 30 minutes + 12-24 hours soaking & steeping
5.3 oz/150 g dried apricots
a good splash of calvados, plus an extra ¾ cup/200 ml (optional)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
6 cardamom pods
about ⅓ inch/1 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled
thinly sliced peel of 1 organic lemon
2 bottles of white wine or hard apple cider
1¾ cup/400 ml apple juice
3-5 tbsp brown sugar
Extra: colander lined with a cheesecloth or a fine sieve
1. Slice the apricots, put them in a glass or jar and cover with calvados. Let soak for 12-24 hours.
2. Bring 2 cups/500 ml of water to a boil. Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, cardamom, ginger and grated lemon zest. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let steep for 12-24 hours.
3. Pour the extract through the lined colander or sieve in a large pan. Add the wine, apple juice, sugar, and some calvados if you like. Bring slowly to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Taste and add some more sugar if you want. Remove the pan from the heat. Divide the apricots over glasses (about 1 tbsp per glass) and pour the Glögg over.
DANISH GINGER LICORICE COOKIES
Sweet, about 80 cookies
Action Time: 25 minutes + resting
8.8 oz/250 g flour
8.8 oz/250 g sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
2-3 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp Danish licorice powder
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp molasses
7 oz/200 g cold butter, diced
Extra: 2 baking sheets lined with baking paper, plastic wrap
1. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, ginger, and licorice powder. Add the egg yolk, molasses, and butter and knead until you have a soft dough. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Roll each portion into a ½ -1 inch/2-3 cm thick cylinder. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave tot rest in the fridge for about 15-30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Slice the rolls into ¼ inch/1 cm thick rounds. Make sure your cookies are a good distance apart on the baking sheets as they will spread.
3. Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.