After nearly a week of coughing and all-over ache, I’m finally feeling like life has breathed back into me. Since Smithsonian says baking and cooking can help us feel better when we’re feeling down I decided to bake some cookies for our family Christmas Eve get-together. Mom and I used to go a little overboard for the holidays, baking batch after batch of many varieties and storing them in the cold entry-way stairwell to be parceled out as we needed them. These days everyone is more mindful of sugary treats so I’ll be limiting my “feel better” baking to just a couple of batches. If you’re unfamiliar with kringla, they are a typical Scandinavian sweet made with plenty of butter and either sour cream or heavy cream, kind of a marriage of cookie and sweet roll.

This recipe came from my mother-in-law Dorothy. I should say I started with Dorothy’s recipe. She’d been making them for so long that when I asked her to write it down she had to stop and think what was in it. As happens so often when we’re very familiar with what we do we don’t pay too much attention to how much of what we use. Sometimes we make substitutions that end up being permanent changes. I think that’s what happened with Dorothy’s recipe. The cookies themselves never seemed to taste any different from one batch to another but the recipe she scribbled on a scrap of paper needed some…adjustment.

Dorothy and granddaughter Nealy

Don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother-in-law, and she was everybody’s favorite grandma, even for the neighbor kids. Universally loved by all, I doubt there was ever anyone anywhere that met Dorothy and didn’t love her. But as the mother of five hungry boys and a baby girl, she had learned well the art of substitution. It can be a valuable tool and I know it well too.

This is a good cookie recipe to make with kids. Dorothy usually made figure 8 or pretzel shapes. Kids like rolling the pieces of dough around and you can just let them make any shape they want out of the strips. Let them sprinkle some colored sugar on the tops before baking. Dorothy spread butter on them when she served them to the kids.

– Joan, 21 December 2017



  • ½ cup butterIMG_3008
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking sodaIMG_3009
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, then sour cream and vanilla. Mix all the dry ingredients and add to the mix, just until combined. Cover and chill several hours or overnight.

IMG_3011Preheat oven to 350°F. Break off small pieces of dough. Roll the pieces back and forth on a cool surface until they form pencil-thick strands about 11-12″ long. Shape them as desired. Bake on parchment-lined sheets for 9-10 minutes. Only the bottoms should be lightly browned — the one in this photo on the left is a little too dark, resulting in a slightly dry cookie. Cool completely before packaging or freezing.

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