These crunchy, caramel-flavored, nut-filled traditional Danish cookies are sure to become a staple on your Christmas cookie plate!
I discovered Danish Brunkager cookies through a friend who lives in Copenhagen. When I asked her about the best Danish cookies for Christmas, she recommended I make Brunkager. I’m so glad I did!
These cookies are easy to make. Mix the dry ingredients, mix the wet ingredients, combine the dry and the wet, let set in the fridge, slice, and bake!
I’ve made them several times over the years, trying out different variations and ingredients. My favorite version is in the recipe card below but I also liked the other versions I made – and you might, too – so let’s take a look at each of them, shall we? If you want to get right to the recipe, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post.
Brunkager: Round 1
The first time I made these cookies I used light brown sugar, light corn syrup, whole almonds, and whole hazelnuts. I sliced them thin and they looked like this:
I really liked these cookies! Because they were sliced so thin they were super crunchy. I liked the almonds and hazelnuts, too. The original Danish version calls for almonds and pistachios but the pistachios I’d bought ended up in my husband’s stomach before I could make these cookies!
So I used hazelnuts and actually really liked them in the cookies, flavor-wise.The only thing I didn’t like is that they looked a little bland. They didn’t taste bland but they looked on the bland side. They were oh so good with a cup of coffee.
Brunkager: Round 2
For this second round I used molasses instead of corn syrup and I sliced them thicker. I used the same nut combo – whole almonds and hazelnuts. This version looked like this:
These cookies were good! Not as crunchy, since they were sliced thicker but I liked the deeper flavor that the molasses added. And I liked the contrast between the cookie and nuts.
Round 3: My Favorite
This version is my favorite! I used golden syrup (instead of corn syrup or molasses), and for nuts I used sliced almonds (because I was out of the whole almonds) and whole pistachios. These cookies were thin and crunchy, and I like the contrast of the sliced almonds and whole pistachios.
Brunkager Baking Tips:
- If you don’t have almonds or pistachios, try another type of nut. I used hazelnuts instead of pistachios, and while not as traditional, the cookies were delicious.
- Slice the cookies on the thin side if you want crispy cookies or on the thick side if you want them chewier. You may want to cut a few slices and bake them to see whether you prefer thick or thin.
- Take the cookies out of the oven when the sides start to crisp. The cookies will seem soft at first but they crisp up as they cool.
- Use a serrated bread knife to slice the cookie dough.
How to Make Danish Brunkager Christmas Cookies
This recipe will make the cookies shown in the “third round” from above.
The first step is to melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and golden syrup (you can also use light corn syrup) and bring to a simmer. Then take it off the heat and let it cool.
Next, mix the flour, baking soda, spices, and nuts in mixing bowl.
Now add half of the melted butter. Why half? In order for the cookies to bake properly, it’s very important that the cookie dough be thick, and so you may not need all of the butter.
I’ve made these cookies several times and a few times they didn’t turn out at all – they just melted in the oven. So disappointing! Other times they turned out perfectly. I realized that the batches that turned out perfectly were the ones with very thick cookie dough.
So now I always add half of the butter, stir the dough, and then add the rest of the butter a little at a time. If you’re measuring with cups it’s easy to get varying amounts of flour each time you make a recipe. So add the butter a little at a time until the dough is very thick – thick enough that you have to press it into a baking pan with your fingers. If you add all of the butter and realize that the dough is too thin, add a little more flour to thicken it up.
The next step is to press the dough into a bread pan lined with parchment. Cover dough with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least a couple hours, 4-6 hours or more is more ideal. You want the cookie dough to be hard before you bake it. I used to leave my dough out to “dry” for 12 hours but it gets humid where I live and I think that contributed to some batches not baking correctly, because the dough didn’t dry enough. I’ve found more success by chilling the dough in the fridge. The dough is ready to bake when you can’t press down on the dough with your fingers.
Once the dough is solid and hard, take it out of the fridge and place on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the dough into 2 logs. Then cut each log into 25 cookies. Place cookies on a lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for 8-12 minutes. Take them out of the oven when the edges start to brown. The cookies will crisp as they cool.