They say that good friends listen. And if that’s the case, then I’m lucky to have Rika as a friend. I arrived at her house on Monday with a plate of cookies I had made over the weekend. As we sat sipping a latte and tea out of the largest mugs I’ve ever seen, she asked me about my cookies.
These are Danish Vienna fingers, I explained. And these are Finnish Aunt Hanna cookies, though I don’t know why they’re called that. And these are Norwegian brown butter cookies.
Though I’m paraphrasing here, you get the point; I was telling her what the cookies were called, as briefly as possible so as not to bore her with details about my baking exploits. But then can you guess what happened next? She asked questions to draw me out. She wanted to know about my cookies–really know about them. How are they made? What makes each what they are?
Now that, friends, is a good friend. But what’s even more amazing is that if the same logic holds true for this blog, then you are good friends too. You listen even as I I ramble about food-related childhood memories or giddily tell you about my recent visit to Tartine.
And with that, since I mentioned the cookies I brought to Rika’s house, let me tell you a little more about one of the varieties, the jam-filled ones pictured at the beginning of this post. Something about these cookies just tastes decadent. They’re pretty, but not ornate. The lemon really comes through, giving a lovely bright contrast to the deep richness of the blackberry jam. Although I’m sure it would undo anything traditional about these cookies, I can imagine all sorts of flavor combinations–lime and blueberry, orange zest and marmalade with an almond glaze, chocolate cookies with raspberry preserves, and the list goes on.
Since we’re talking about friendship and cookies, let me take the opportunity to say thank you for being here. Thank you for checking out what’s on this blog and coming back again and again. Each time you leave a comment and let me know that somehow something I’ve said has resonated with you, it makes my day. I wish I could share some of these cookies with you.
Danish Blackberry-Lemon Slices (or Danish Vienna Fingers / Wienerstänger)
These cookies are adapted, barely, from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas, which is one of the first Scandinavian cookbooks I purchased and still one of my favorites. Traditional and authentic, each recipe I’ve tried has been a success, and the author does a great job putting the recipes in context of the cuisines from which they come.
2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup blackberry jam
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
To make the dough, cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and then beat in the egg until the mixture lightens. Add the lemon peel, flour, and baking powder, and beat until a dough forms, then chill the dough for about 30 minutes (this is a great time to clean up the kitchen if you, like me, are trying to get into the practice of cleaning while you go).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into quarters, rolling each section into a 15-inch log and placing at least two inches apart on baking sheets. Using a long, flat object such as a knife or ruler, press down gently down the center of each log, creating a lengthwise groove (you’ll fill it soon with jam).
Bake the logs for 10 minutes, then remove and spoon the jam down the groove. Return to the oven and bake for about 10 more minutes, until the logs’ edges turn a pale golden color.
To make the icing, mix together the powdered sugar and lemon juice with a little bit of water. When you remove the cookies from the oven, let them cool a little and then drizzle them with the icing and cut the cookies diagonally into 3/4-inch cookies while still warm.