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Norwegian Christmas Men Cookies (Julemenn)

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.

 

Christmas Man cookie leaning on a glass of mulled wine.

 

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.

 

A wooden plate with Norwegian Christmas cookies, mulled wine in the background.

 

Hartshorn

 

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.)

 

A wooden plate with a spoon of hartshorn and a hartshorn container.

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.

 

Two Christmas Men cookies in the window sill with a glass mug with mulled wine.

 

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!

 

Norwegian Christmas Men

 

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.

 

Norwegian Christmas Men

 

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.

 

Steps to cream the sugar and butter.

 

The next day, knead flour into the dough and knead well before you roll it with a rolling pin. I would suggest to take 1/3 of the dough each time, and leave the rest on a cold spot. Roll out to around 1/4 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).

 

Steps to make and shape the Christmas men cookies.

 

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.

 

Enjoy!

 

One cookie torn in pieces and layered on top of each other to show the fluffy interior.

 

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:

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later! To make sure you’re never missing another recipe, please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. As a thanks you will receive a free e-cookbook Travels Through the Seasons, with many delicious recipes from around the world that suit different seasons of the year. 

 

 

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This recipe was originally published on Dec 4th 2017, but updated on Sep 22nd 2021 for better photos and content.

Norwegian Christmas Men

Norwegian Christmas Men (Julemenn)

Yield: 40 cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

The crisp exterior and soft interior is such a satisfying texture, and the flavor is amazing in these cute Christmas Men!

Ingredients

  • 700g flour, 5 1/2 cups (+ more for rolling)
  • 1 tbsp hartshorn*, (Norwegian: Hjortetakksalt)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean sugar, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60g softened butter (1/2 stick)
  • 300g sugar, 1 1/2 cup
  • 250 ml milk, 1 cup
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Add flour, hartshorn, salt and vanilla bean sugar to a large bowl. Mix softened butter and sugar until it's well incorporated (add vanilla extract here if using). Heat milk and add in one egg, be careful not to have too hot milk. Aim for around body temperature.
  2. Add the sugar butter into the dry ingredients, give it a mix, and then add in the milk mixture. Knead very well, it will first look really dry. The dough will be slightly sticky, but don't worry. Leave it a cold spot overnight or at least 2 hours.
  3. The next day, knead flour into the dough and knead well before you roll it with a rolling pin. I would suggest to take 1/3 of the dough each time, and leave the rest a cold spot. Roll out to around 5-6 mm 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).
  4. Heat your oven to around 190C (375F). Bake for about 10 minutes (1-2 min longer for large cookies). 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.
  5. Enjoy next to hot chocolate or mulled wine (gløgg).

Notes

* I highly recommend finding hartshorn, as they will get a crisper texture. If you can't, however, you can substitue with 1/2 tbsp baking powder and 1/2 tbsp baking soda.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 40 Serving Size: 1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 107Total Fat: 1.6gSaturated Fat: 0.9gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 21.4gFiber: 0.5gSugar: 7.9gProtein: 2.2g

Nutrition information isn't always accurate, estimate for informational purposes only.

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