Whew! We made it, a whole week of cookies! If you’re feeling like me, you may never want to eat another cookie again! Until next year. Or next week. You know.
We’re closing the week with a cookie my mother made every year. It’s one she remembered her own mother making during the holidays, and those back-in-the-day Finns, they didn’t write anything down. You learned by doing and then you remembered. So no matter how often I asked mom to transcribe her memory, she never did. So what I offer you here is my memory of this recipe.
These call upon two of the baker’s primary abilities: Patience and faith. Patience because this dough is very touchy and the resulting cookies very delicate. And faith that the greasy looking glop you end up with will (will!) result in a delicious cookie.
BTW, “Markka” are Finnish coins no longer in circulation. But again, back in the day, we all would’ve known what these were. If we were Finns.
- Patience throughout is key. Browning the butter, chilling the dough, shaping the cookies. Slow and easy.
- Make sure your stove is set to medium heat for the butter browning and do stir constantly. 12 minutes will go by quickly. You may get
some frothing that will cause you to wonder if you’re doing this correctly. You are. Keep stirring. The butter browns and releases that nutty fragrance at about minute 10 or 11. Wait for it, keep stirring, and pull it off the heat at 12 minutes. If you get anxious at any point, simply lift the pot off the heat for a few seconds, but keep stirring. You hear me on the stirring, yes?
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter! It makes a difference! I don’t know why!
- Once the dry ingredients are incorporated you will feel forlorn. What you have in the bowl is not dough, it’s hardly even batter. Faith, dear reader.
- Forming the cookies. More patience. This is a good time to rewatch the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. Because it takes some time to form these markka.
In the end, after all that work, you will have a scrumptious cookie. They are shortbread delicate so it’s best to store in a sturdy airtight container. (They don’t really ship well either.)
These are terrific with tea or a lovely little glass of sauternes.
Mom’s Brown Butter Markka
1 scant cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut up
2 tsps vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Crystal sugar (for topping cookies)
Line two large baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
Put butter in a 1.5 quart sauce pan. (Stainless steel is best because you want to be able to see the color of the butter as it browns.) Set the pan over medium heat and set your timer for 12 minutes. Start stirring. Keep stirring. The butter may foam up and start to look almost fluffy. Just keep stirring, it will settle down before you’re done.
Pour the browned butter into a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool while you assemble your dry ingredients.
Stir the flour in your storage container to aerate it and then measure 2 cups using the dip/sweep method. Add the baking powder, granulated sugar and salt, and whisk together gently.
Add the 2 teaspoons of vanilla to the browned butter. Then add half the dry ingredients to the butter. Stir gently to incorporate. Add the remaining dry ingredients and again, stir to incorporate.
So not pretty.
Scrape the dough into a smaller bowl, cover the top with a sheet of plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for two hours. Remove from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350. Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.
Use a small (#00) ice cream scoop to scrape up dough. It will shave and shard and that’s ok. Dump your scoopful of dough into your hand and warm it between your palms. Give it a minute and it will soften into a lovely, workable little ball of dough.
Roll it into a ball, flatten it slightly and place on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have 8 cookies per sheet. Sprinkle with the crystal sugar and press down on it a bit to make sure it sticks.
Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown around the edges, rotating the sheets top to bottom halfway through.
Let the cookies cool on the sheets for about 10 minutes before gently moving to racks to cool completely.
Yields about 24 cookies.