Brown Christmas Cookies


“Brunkager” is a old danish type of cookies from the wood stove era, like most of the other Danish cookies. They are one of my favourite cookies for two reasons, they are extremely crisp and they are fast to bake. I always make the dough in advance, freeze it and bake it when I want to have something on hand for guests and want the house to smell of Christmas. It doesn’t hurt that they are really tasty. I think this year’s recipe is the most tasty I have had yet. The early recipes for “brunkager” show up in danish recipe books around 1835 and they are related to gingerbread cookies.

Read more about the history of “brunkager” at Madam Sif who has an excellent blogpost on the subject.

If you can’t get potash, you can use baking soda instead. But they will not be as crisp. Baking soda does not need to be dissolved in water. If you can get it, ammonium bicarbonate will give you the same crisp result as potash. Please look up how much to use – I have not tried to make them without potash as it is easy to get in danish supermarkeds.

Brown Christmas Cookies

Course Cookies, Desert
Cuisine 19th century, Christmas, Historical cooking, Holiday Food, Wood stove era
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 200 cookies


  • 500 grams butter
  • 1 kilogram wheat flour
  • 125 grams almonds blanched and roughly chopped
  • 250 grams golden syrup
  • 500 grams sugar
  • 15 grams potash mixed with 2 table spoons of water
  • 5 grams ground ginger
  • 7 grams ground cloves
  • 25 grams ground cinnamon
  • 100 grams grated bitter orange Normal orange peel from one orange, can be used as well, optional


  1. Melt butter, sugar and syrup slowly in a pot
  2. Take it off the heat and add the spices to the mix. Leave it to cook until it is lunk warm (hand temperatur)
  3. Mix the potash with a bit of water. It is important that they potash does not get into the mixture until it is lunk warm - or the reaction can be pretty wild (as in caramel all over the table wild).
  4. Add the almonds and the flour to the mix
  5. Knead it together and roll the mixture into sausages. The sausages should be about the thickness of a broom handle. Wrap them in clingfilm.
  6. Put them into the freezer until they are hard. This takes a few hours. They keep for at least a year in the freezer.
  7. Cut the cold sausages with a sharp knife into thin slices.
  8. Place the slices on a baking tray (with baking paper) and bake them for 5-8 minutes at 200 C. Until they are darker, but not burned. They burn quickly so keep an eye on them.

Recipe Notes

Source: Madam Sif. Originally: Kogebog for smaa Huusholdninger, 1837, Lise Nørgaard

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