The crisp exterior and soft interior is such a satisfying texture, and the subtle flavor is amazing in these cute Christmas Men Cookies! I directly translated the name of these cookies, because I like the name. It's cute. These are cookies that we only bake during the Christmas Holidays, and that gives them a little more festive and nostalgic feeling.
It's a cookie that has been around for so long, no one really knows where it originated from. I have been reading about some of the ingredients in order to give you American or International alternatives.
Other oldies but goodies are old-fashioned donuts and Norwegian gingerbread cookies. Tradition really comes into play during Christmas, don't you agree? For dinner, I can recommend this traditional Norwegian halibut recipe. It's so good even the fish haters, like me, love it.
So when I looked into how to make this in America, that's when I got into reading about Hartshorn/baking ammonia (Norwegian: Hjortetakksalt), and it was really interesting. If a recipe calls for Hartshorn, the chances are that it's very likely to be an old recipe. Harthorn was (emphasis on was) made from the ground-up antlers of a hart (the term for a male deer.)
I am not sponsored by this product, it is simply to help you out.
It could also be obtained by distilling hair or decomposed urine. I mean, how did they even think of using those things?! That is not the case any more. Today, Hartshorn it's chemically made so fear not, Rudolph has not gone down in the making of these Christmas Men!
Gosh, I am so cheesy.
Hartshorn is an easy leavening agent to work with as it doesn't need to react with anything other than heat, so you don't have to be careful with the dough and you can leave it for as long as you want. I like to leave it overnight.
It is very important to use Hartshorn or Hjortetakksalt in these cookies, or else you will not get the right flavor nor texture. I cannot vouch for how the Christmas Men will turn out using baking powder, as I am pretty sure it won't be remotely the same.
Hartshorn taste like Christmas, it's strong, almost like ammonia but I promise you it's delicious! They will get a crispy exterior and soft interior and they are perfect with a cup of Scandinavian mulled wine, the gløgg, or a cup of hot chocolate.
Christmas comfort at its best!
Snuggle up by the fire, decorate your Christmas tree while you sip on gløgg and nibble on these Christmas Men.
How to Make these Christmas Men
This is an easy recipe, and that's what we like. As much as I enjoy being in the kitchen, I also enjoy just hanging by the fire with comforting cookies like these. They are also fun to decorate! The picture below shows the traditional Christmas men and women in Norway.
However, I prefer the classic gingerbread man shape!
Cut softened butter into smaller pieces to make it easier to mix with the sugar (1). Add flour, hartshorn and vanilla bean sugar in a large bowl (2). Mix softened butter and sugar until it's well incorporated (3). Gently heat milk to lukewarm and add in one egg (4).
Add the sugar butter into the dry ingredients, give it a mix, and then add in the milk mixture (5). The dough will be slightly sticky, but don't worry. Leave it a cold spot overnight for at least 2 hours.
The next day, knead flour into the dough and knead well before you roll it with a rolling pin. I would suggest to take ⅓ of the dough each time, and leave the rest on a cold spot. Roll out to around ¼ inch (6mm) thick.
Use your favorite cookie cutters to create the shapes you like. I prefer to use some small and some larger, the small will get crispier but the larger ones will have a softer interior. Both are delicious, but I think I prefer the larger ones (also crispy on the outside).
Pre-heat your oven to 190C (375F). Bake for about 10 minutes (depending on the size you chose). They are not supposed to get much color, only to get a slight browning of the edges. Take one cookie out and tap the backside, and if the sound is hollow, they are done.
Make sure you check each tray a few times during baking, as the oven tend to get a little hotter on the last trays. Just turn your temperature down or cut down on the baking time. All I am saying is to keep an eye on them.
And don't forget that hot chocolate, you can find my delicious rich and decadent hot chocolate right here. I also really love them with Scandinavian mulled wine and classic eggnog, which is the classic way for Christmas!
Did you like this recipe? Here are more Christmas treats I think you will like:
- Peppermint White Chocolate Sugar Cookies
- Chocolate and Coffee Cupcakes with Irish Baileys Frosting
- Cranberry Sangria and Sugared Red Wine Cranberries
- Norwegian Gingerbread Cookies
- Old-Fashioned Donuts
- Eggnog White Russian
- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
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This recipe was originally published on Dec 4th 2017, but updated on Sep 22nd 2021 for better photos and content.