Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gluten free Norwegian krumkake (waffle cookies)

(Image courtesy of LefseTime)

When my husband, who is part Norwegian, first introduced me to krumkake, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. This delicious little waffle cookie —slightly similar to Italian pizelle cookies but with a much more delicate flavor and texture— is a traditional holiday staple in my husband's family. What sets krumkake apart from other waffle cookies is that it's made using cardamom and the flour is sifted so it's super-fine which helps to give the batter a nice light consistency. The batter is then cooked on a special griddle engraved with beautiful designs.  If you don't own one, you can easily purchase one for around forty dollars, or you can simply cook them in a small crepe/sautee pan or flat griddle.  The batter will spread as it heats and you can flip them with a spatula for sort of crunchy wafers.  You won't have the pretty lacey pattern but you'll still have the yummy treats!

These delectable little babies are so light and delicate, so beautiful and so tasty I could eat, ahem, well, let's just say...a lot. My husband has made krumkake for many, many years using his grandmother's original recipe which uses wheat flour. Ever since I started eating gluten free (and casein free in many cases for my son's sake), I've missed having krumkake at Christmas. We decided to remedy that this year and set out to modify Grandma's recipe. Which, ahem, it turns out is packed away with some other cookbooks in my mother's attic. (Did I mention my kitchen is tiny? I'm sure I did.)

The recipe below comes from LefseStore; we substituted a GF flour blend for the regular flour but split the difference on casein by using butter and rice milk. We were so pleased with this recipe that we'll use it again and substitute something else for the butter, perhaps coconut butter or palm shortening.

The basic recipe (with GF or CF substitutions in parenthesis after):

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened (not melted) (coconut butter or palm shortening)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 cup flour, sifted (GF sorghum blend, recipe at the end of this post)**
1 scant cup milk (rice milk)
1 pinch salt (moderate) (not in the original recipe but my husband remembered that from Grandma's)
**1/4 tsp xanthan gum (omit if using regular flour)

Beat the eggs well. Add sugar, butter and cardamom, beat well.
Add flour and milk in equal parts at a time and beat until smooth. (Confession: I tossed the flour and milk in together in my Kitchenaid stand mixer and it was fine. If you are mixing by hand you should definitely follow the recipe's instructions.) The key is not to overmix the flour; too much can make the final product more coarse than you want.

Using a tablespoon or large mixing spoon, spoon the batter onto the griddle just behind the center of the design. When the lid is closed, the weight of it will push the batter forward to fill in the design. Cook for about a minute and check for doneness. The cookies are done when they are a light golden color and the pattern is just discernable. Use a wooden or synthetic spatula (for non-stick cookware) to lift the edge of the cookie off the griddle while rolling it. Tradition calls for rolling them, while still hot, around a cone-shaped form. If you don't have a cone form it's perfectly fine to use a round handled whisk or a broom stick. Or simply lay them flat to cool.

The krumake will cook very quickly and will have a very light, delicate wafer-like quality (whereas a pizelle is generally heavier or thicker— and made with anise). Dust them with powdered sugar or fill them with your favorite fillings. Eat them plain or dip one end in melted chocolate. You can't go wrong. They can be prepared so many ways. It's been suggested that Norwegian settlers to the Midwest introduced the light little krumkake which was quickly adapted into what is now the ice cream cone.

In addition to the traditional cone shape, krumkake can also be rolled into narrower straight rolls which make them more stable for shipping. If I'm going to ship some to my in-laws, I'll leave them flat; the last time I shipped some that were rolled, my in-laws ended up with a lovely parcel of krumkake crumbs— which are fabulous for topping sundaes, by the way.

True statement: my husband was wary of the GF alteration to this well-loved cookie; he thought the batter too thin at first. When the krumkake were done and he'd eaten some, he proclaimed them so good that he doesn't see the need to ever go back to using wheat flour! How's that for an endorsement?

(Image courtesy of ChefsChoice)

Honesty clause: We haven't made any of these yet this season because our young son has been battling some significant respiratory illnesses for the past month— but we plan to remedy that this weekend. The pictures accompanying this post are from other sources (attributed).

Sorghum Flour Blend:
2 C sorghum flour plus 2/3 C potato starch flour and 1/3 C tapioca flour. 
I recommend using sorghum for this recipe simply because it similar to wheat flour in its properies and behavior.


  1. Sounds delish. Hope you get to make them soon...

  2. I'm adding the krumkake iron to my new cooking gadget wish list. I can't find my pizelle iron and this just seems so much easier.

    these sound soooo good I can't wait to make them.

  3. Oh I hope you get to make your beloved cookie soon! It looks so delicious.

  4. Uf-da! I grew up in krumkake country, but my family never made them, instead sticking to Swedish pepparkakkor. I enjoyed them as part of many a church supper and holiday party, though.

    Maybe I'll buck tradition and try it.


  5. Your fruit and vegetable wallpaper is beautiful - but I can't read your text or recipes through it!
    So sorry - it was a recipe I really needed. Can you modify the software to tone down the background?

  6. If you want to send us your email address, I can copy and paste the text of this or whatever recipe you want. But the actual text should be easy enough to see, since there's no bleed-through on the white center column. I can see how the sidebars might be harder to read, though. In any case, just send along an email address, and we'll be happy to send you whichever recipe you want.

  7. I just made this with quinoa flour and substituted almond extract 1-1/2 tsp.) and vanilla for cardamom. Delicious (though it took a few tries to get temperature just right). I didn't use Xantham gum so this is an easy substitute for regular flour.

  8. By the way, I have my Grandma's antique single iron which rotates and is used on burner. To make these takes a great deal of time but is a labor of love.

  9. I have a double electric Krumkaka iron and gave my flipper away. Can get through a batch quickly as both sides cook at the same time and you are making 2 instead of 1 at a time. HOO Ray.. Krumkaka for all.

  10. I can hardly wait to try this recipe. Another way to shape them after baking is what my grandmother did. To get a curve to them, she laid them over a round pint jar which was lying on its side. She had a large krumkake iron which fit over the round opening (lid removed) on a wood-burning kitchen range.

  11. I can hardly wait to try this recipe. Another way to shape them after baking is what my grandmother did. To get a curve to them, she laid them over a round pint jar which was lying on its side. She had a large krumkake iron which fit over the round opening (lid removed) on a wood-burning kitchen range.

  12. Most enjoyable time was making these cookies and many others Christmas favorites with my grandmother. Great memories with grandma! Us kids thank her for the wonderful tradition. Looks like a good recipe. Will try this weekend for upcoming party.

  13. Made these tonight and used Gluten Free Mama Almond Flour blend - they are so good! Light and crispy and perfect. Thank you!