Vanilla Wreath Cookies (Vaniljekranse)
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You know that royal blue tin of Danish cookies that you always used to see at your grandma’s house? The one filled with sewing supplies, rice or old letters? Well, if you ever had the immense pleasure of actually eating the cookies that were once inside, you may recognize these vanilla wreath cookies (aka vaniljekranse) from Nichole Accettola’s new cookbook, Scandinavian from Scratch.
Accettola first tried her hand at the classic confection while working at her dad’s doughnut shop. “I baked at home for days, and the results looked nothing like the perfectly shaped ring cookies in the blue tin that had served as my inspiration,” she writes. “However, once I brought the cookies into work to sell, all of our regulars bought them and I sold out in just a few hours, permanently cementing my belief that homemade is best!”
With the help of a pastry bag, piping the vanilla-infused dough is simpler than you’d think. (Accettola suggests using a star-shaped tip to get those golden-brown fluted edges.) Did we mention you’ll only need seven ingredients to prepare it?
Scandinavian from Scratch Copyright © 2023 by Nichole Accettola. Photographs copyright © 2023 by Anders Schønnemann. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House.
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup (175 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (256 grams) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (80 grams) almond flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium until soft and creamy, pausing halfway to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again to incorporate.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, almond flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low until just combined.
3. Line two 13-by-18-inch baking trays with parchment paper. Arrange two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F.
4. Draw three neat rows of four circles each onto each piece of parchment paper, where you will pipe twelve cookies per tray. Flip the paper over, so that the inky side faces down, but you can still see the markings through it. (I recommend tracing quarters to form the inside of each wreath. Space them 3 inches apart on the parchment paper, so that you have ample space to “draw” with your piping bag full of dough. The diameter of each cookie should be 2 inches.)
5. “Glue” the sheets of parchment paper to the baking trays by using a pinch of dough to stick down each corner. This will anchor them in place while you pipe the cookies.
6. Attach a medium star-shaped tip to a pastry bag, then fill it with the cookie dough, using a rubber spatula to scoop the batter from the mixing bowl into the bag. Aim to get as much volume as possible down near the tip rather than smeared up top. To make this process easier, prop the bag in a canister of some sort, like a French press coffee pot, vase or an empty quart container. Turn the bag’s top edge down around the top of the empty container. This lets you use both hands to fill it rather than having to awkwardly hold it in one hand while filling it with the other.
7. Unfold the top of the piping bag and remove it from the container. Using your nondominant hand, twist the top of the piping bag to remove air and start to push the dough toward the tip. Keep your dominant hand right above the tip as you do this. Hold the tip low over the cookie sheet as you squeeze the bag, making a wreath shape around each pre-drawn circle. Once the wreath is complete, lower the tip, pressing it against the piped dough to cut it off. If you want to be fussy, you can moisten a fingertip and smooth out the seam and any other imperfections, but baking is likely to erase whatever “mistakes” you may have made in piping. Repeat with the remaining dough.
8. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking trays halfway through from top to bottom and front to back, until the edges are lightly golden. Let the cookies cool on the trays for a few minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Store the cookies in a tin or airtight container, where they will stay fresh for up to five days.