In spite of what the name may imply, the Berlinerkranser is actually not German at all—in just about every recipe I have seen, these rich wreath-shaped butter cookies are said to hail from Norway, where they are a holiday tradition.
Could it be the result of German immigration patterns? Or perhaps these buttery wreaths call to mind the holiday decorations from Berlin?
Alas, while I cannot answer these questions, I can attest to their deliciousness. Buttery, crumbly, and complemented with a whisper of tartness from orange zest and plenty of sweetness from candied fruit garnish, these cookies are like a bite of holiday cheer.
- Yield:about 36 cookies
- 1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated orange rind
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups flour
- 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- red candied cherries
- green candied pineapple or citron
Mix butter, 1 cup sugar, orange rind, and eggs thoroughly. Stir in sifted flour until fully incorporated. Chill dough.
Heat oven to 400°F. Break off small pieces of dough and roll about 8 inches long (kind of like the length of a pencil, but fatter). The recipe notes that if your dough is dry, you can let it warm up a bit more or work in a couple of drops of cream until the dough feels solid. Form each piece into a circle, leaving about a half-inch overlap on either side. Where the two ends meet, press a finger to seal the ends and form an indent (it will make a nice resting place for the candied fruit later). Place the circles on an ungreased baking sheet.
Beat the egg white until frothy; gradually beat in the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Brush tops with this meringue.
Note: I made some of the cookies without the meringue; I actually preferred how they tasted without. So if you'd prefer to bake them without, skip step 3.
Press bits of candied cherries on the indent you pressed where the cookie-ends meet, to form holly berries; add little pieces of green candied citron or pineapple cut into leaf-like shapes to the sides.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until set but not brown.