The Mixing Bowl: Make cookies with the kids

(Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian)

These cookies come from “The Finnish Cookbook” by Beatrice A. Ojakangas. There are no pictures in the book so I had no idea what they would look like. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy they came together and with the flavor - a thin layer of sugar encrusted with almond bits cover a shortbread-like cookie.

With an odd spelling, Ojakangas prefaces the recipe with this quote: “These rich, melt-in-your-mouth cooky sticks with an almond coating are made from one of the oldest Finnish cooky recipes.”

The recipe makes six dozen cookies, so if you would like to make less, cut the recipe in half. A single egg can be easily halved by beating it first and then dividing the liquid.

This is good recipe to make with children. More than most recipes, it requires very clean hands so it’s a good first step for them to learn. After you make the dough, you will shape it into one or more long, thin snakes that will be cut into smaller bite sized logs. The next part is messy and involves dipping the little logs into three bowls of eggs, sugar and finally, nuts.

I have taught cooking to classes of elementary and middle school kids. It was very gratifying. The right recipes have to be easy and age appropriate. This recipe would work best for kids who are 10-years-old or older — with supervision of course.

And don’t forget to include them in the clean-up. This was always a challenge with some middle schoolers who would try to avoid this part by running out the door when the bell rang. Pajaro Middle School has a real cooking classroom with five full kitchens with sinks, counters and cupboards. Occasionally a bad smell would emanate from one of the kitchens to reveal an unwashed measuring cup or wooden spoon. 

Suomalaiset puikot, Finnish Cooky Sticks

1 cup butter, room temperature

½ cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon almond extract

Dash salt

3 cups sifted flour

Coating:

1 egg beaten

2 cups sugar more or less

½ cup finely chopped almonds

Finely chop almonds into feathery bits. Cream room temperature butter and sugar until well fluffy. Add the egg, almond extract and salt. Mix well. Add the flour and mix until smooth. You may need to knead the dough with your hands. When the dough is smooth, roll into long rolls about a ½ inch in diameter or a little larger. Cut into 2 ½ inch lengths.

Get out 3 small bowls and put the beaten egg in one, sugar in another and chopped almonds in the third.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a cookie tin. Take a few lengths at a time and cover with the egg, then the sugar and then the almonds. Lay them out on the cookie tin in rows. They don’t expand much so they can be close together. I baked over 3 dozen cookies on one pan.

Bake for 8 minutes until just barely golden on the bottom.

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Sarah Ringler is a retired schoolteacher. She worked as a cook for 8 years before being a teacher, and also taught a cooking class at Pajaro Middle School for several years. She comes from a long line of serious cooks and passed the tradition on to her children, grandchildren, students and hopefully her readers.

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