Klejner. A Danish Christmas Cookie.

We are gathered here today to make fried cookies.  Klejner (sometimes spelled Kleyner), a classic Danish cookie, that’s served at Christmas. Little fried knots of dough for ringing in the holiday season in Denmark.

I should probably make it clear that I am not in Denmark. I’m in Canada, but I’m of Danish descent. And Irish. But I didn’t know I was Irish until I started to research my ancestry because of the high potato levels in my blood steam. 

How Danish am I you ask? Well I’m Danish enough to be able to say thank you, you’re welcome and pass the klejner in Danish. And truthfully I can’t really say “pass the” so I just use a waving hand motion to represent “pass the” 

I inherited this recipe for Klejner from my farmor (Danish for paternal grandmother) Agnes. 

Klejner

Klejner are really just twisted fried donuts and they’re popular in a ton of other countries as well. The shape may be a little different, the name will definitely be different, but it’s basically the same thing.  Fried cookie dough.

And it’s SIMPLE cookie dough at that.  Flour, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, eggs, milk, butter. That’s it. 

You just add your dry ingredients to your handy, dandy mixer and mix. If you don’t have a handy, dandy mixer … mix by hand.

Throw in your wet ingredients: the vanilla, butter and milk and mix everything up until combined. You’re creating a dough.

If the dough is too sticky and really sticks to your work surface knead in some flour.

Just sprinkle it over your dough and knead away. If you’re using a stand mixer, mix away.

You want the dough to be dry enough so it isn’t sticky, but not so floury that it’ll crack when you roll it out.

It will look like the ball up above. Except your pastry board might be different. You might not even have a pastry board. Just be prepared for a few differences when you look down at your blob of dough.

As long as it doesn’t crack or stick when you roll it out, you’re good.

The dough gets rolled out to 1/4″ thick (or even a little thinner) and then cut into 1″ wide strips.

Once the strips are cut you cut them again into 3″ lengths then use a paring knife cut a small hole, just off-centre in each strip.

NOW is the fun part. You turn every little strip of dough into a knot by pushing one end through the hole.

Repeat with all the dough until you have a big pile of uncooked knotty looking things.

Now whip out that deep fryer and heat it to its highest setting. If you don’t have a deep fryer you can fry them in a pot. Yup. Like I said, they’re fried cookies. The best kind of cookie as far as I’m concerned.

Carefully drop your cookies into the fryer. You can do about 10 or 12 at a time. Once the cookies have browned on one side, flip them over with a fork or whatever you have on hand, so the other side gets browned. They only take a couple of minutes to cook so keep an eye on them.

The cookies will be golden brown. Like you’d expect a fried cookie to be. Drain them on a paper towel.

Just before serving them, sprinkle them with powdered sugar. At this point you can either admire them or eat them. Or give them away. Or eat them.

And that my friends is how you make a Danish Christmas Cookie.

Klejner

These Danish Christmas cookies aren’t overly sweet, and taste a lot like a crunchy plain donut.
4.3 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Yummy
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 72 cookies
Calories: 48kcal
Author: Karen

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • .25 lb butter softened
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon (optional)

Instructions

  • Mix together dry ingredients reserving 1/2 of flour
  • Add in remaining ingredients and mix well until dough smooth.
  • If needed, add the reserved 1/2 cup of flour to the dough.
  • Roll dough out to a scant 1/4″ thick.
  • Cut dough into 3″ x 1″ strips.  I use a pizza wheel for this.
  • Cut a slit in the centre of each strip of dough.  The direction of the slit should run the length of the strip, not across it.
  • For each strip of dough, pull one end through the centre cut slit and pull through to the other side. This will form a sort of knot.
  • Deep fry until the dough begins to form a golden colour.

Video

Notes

These cookies will seem soft when they first come out of the fryer but they fully firm up and get crispier after a few hours.
I only started adding cardamon a few years ago to these cookies. My grandmother’s recipe didn’t include it, but most Danish recipes for Klejner do.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 48kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 62mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 51IU | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg

They’re one of my favourite cookies, because I grew up on them and we all have a soft spot for something we grew up on don’t we?  I mean how else do you explain your lingering love of macaroni and cheese made with powdered cheese? Also these cookies aren’t overly sweet. In fact they aren’t very sweet at all. If you want them sweeter add a little bit more sugar.

If you don’t like sweet stuff at all, then just stick with potatoes. 
 

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Klejner.  A Danish Christmas Cookie.

117 Comments

  1. Nancy Hunter says:

    I, too, am half Danish on my father’s side. My Grammy, Agnes, made these cookies for us as kids. She used cardamom in them. She also made us turnpankaer, Brun kol and ebleskiver. Oh the memories. My spelling is probably wrong on these but you get the drift. Love your blog.

  2. Annamay Adams says:

    This brought me right back to my childhood…my Amma (Grandmother) made Kleinur for us many times. I am of Icelandic 1/2 & Irish 1/2 descent. And who ruled Iceland before they won their Independence? Why Denmark! She cut hers a little different, diamond shape. When we kids opened that tin… the first thing you could smell was the cardamom! Happy Holidays!

  3. Randy P says:

    I’m of Polish ancestry, so obviously my annual bloodwork reveals a LOT of butter and carbs. In our tradition (also a Christmas delight) it’s called Chruściki – bow ties or angel wings, heavily dusted with powdered sugar. I can pronounce it, but NOT with a mouthful of one. It’s all good.

  4. charlotte Lorenzen says:

    Klejner is the oldest Scandinavian cookie dating all the way back to the Middle Ages before the stove was invented.
    And like many other mentions; they should be cut in diamond shapes :)
    Best regards a Dane from Copenhagen.

  5. Instead of sida it’s supposed to use Hjortetaksalt. I have some. What I don’t have is a deep fryer.

  6. Kay L Bonikowsky says:

    My German mother in law makes these every year and calls them “bunny ears.”

  7. Sabina says:

    Hmmmm, this looks like a new recipe to try while I’m home on vacation next week :)

  8. Anna Lee says:

    My great grandmother originally came from Bern, Switzerland and we call these schlueff. We add cardamom, mace, lemon zest and juice and we have to use a curly slice for some reason. Ours are also about 5 to 6 inches long but that could be a greedy American distortion of the original. We eat them in the morning with coffee like donuts. Our recipes are all industrial size because great-grandma had four sons and a daughter. When she’d make them she’d hide them in the dryer because when the boys got home from school they’d smell them and start tearing the house apart to eat them all up. Now we make about 300 as a family event every Christmas and each family/adult gets to take a bag home. We, the direct descendants of Emma, have been known to hide the last few from our spouses so we can have them to ourselves because ‘it’s our heritage’. My niece, nephews and now my sons are the 5th generation to learn how to make them here in North America. Love this.

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  10. Karen Cross says:

    Hi Karen,

    my name is also Karen and I am half Danish on my father’s side as well! Middle name is Michelle. What’s yours?

    Anyhoo, you make yours just like my Aunt and I do, except we use Ammonium carbonate, aka Baking Ammonia and then we sprinkle them after frying with powdered sugar! They are GREAT!

    Thanks for sharing and letting me share!

    Merry Christmas

    • Karen says:

      Hello half Danish Karen! I’ve taken to sprinkling them with powdered sugar after baking them in the past few years! If I have time (Danish fingers crossed) I’ll be making Kleyner/Klejner/Kleiner tomorrow! ~ karen

  11. Bonnie Christensen says:

    My mom (from Copenhagen) made the cuts so that the cookies are a parallelogram before turning inside out. They lay flatter. She used a deep fry pan to make them. I have never made them because I am a little scared of deep frying in my home, but I may be adventurous this year. ! As a child I really loved helping mom making these.

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  13. Karen says:

    I remember these from my childhood. My Danish grandmother used to make these every Christmas but with cardamom. My aunt actually was the one who taught me how to bake and fry these.

    • Karen says:

      I’ve been adding cardamom for the past few years now Karen! It’s great. Apparently my grandmother was making them wrong her whole life, lol. I’ve rectified that now. ;) ~ karen!

  14. kim jensen says:

    Just a few comments.

    As you might now, klein, comes from German meaning small- However we Danes (100% born and raised myself) have a similar word, klejn, pronounced “kleyn”, also meaning small or fragile.

    So, the proper spelling would be klejne. (J is pronounced as your y, hence Jensen is Yensen and so on). So, one cookie is klejne, two or more cookies would be klejner. “Klejners” would be plural with added English plural..

    And diamond shape is the proper way :-D

  15. Anthony Nemelka says:

    This is wonderful. Very similar to a recipe my grandmother passed down, which it seems she spelled completely wrong, but here’s the recipe: http://www.nemelkafamily.com/kliner.html.

    A key ingredient her recipe includes is Almond extract, at about 3/4 the amount of the vanilla. Adds a very memorable aroma at Christmas time.

    • Karen says:

      I just made my klejner last night Anthony. And I ended up omitting the vanilla and using cardamom. I think it could handle both next time. I also did what another reader suggested and dipped about half of them in sugar after frying them. Wow. WOW! They’re delicious. I’ll go have a look at your recipe now. :) ~ karen!

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