If you’ve read my blog for very long or followed me on various social media sites you have more than likely heard me mention fika many times. Thanks in part to a Gevalia commercial, that term is not as foreign to many here in the US as it was previously. While I don’t practice it religiously, I find it is a great way step away and reset if things aren’t going as I wish or my eyes have started to cross from staring at the computer screen too long.
It is traditional to have a bit of sweet with a coffee during these breaks. While generally Swedish baked goods are lower in sugar than American recipes, it still isn’t the most waistline friendly practice. So I wanted to come up with a little snack that went well with coffee and could satisfy my sweet tooth for 150 calories or less. These humble cookies are the result. But don’t let their looks fool you!
Many years ago I explored Beatrice Ojakangas’ The Great Scandinavian Baking Book and remembered enjoying the Swedish Peasant Cookies which were a super simple ice box cookie studded with slivered almonds. I had also been curious about a rye-based cookie. On my first attempt I simply swapped the AP flour for 1/3 spelt flour and 2/3 rye flour. The result was good. It reminded me a lot of digestive biscuits, both in texture and sweetness level. They went well with coffee, but didn’t really satisfy a sweet craving if I had one. DH thought they tasted a tad “floury.” It wasn’t quite right - though we had no trouble gobbling them up.
I had thoughts from the get go of dressing up the cookies so I held off posting the recipe and a couple weeks later gave it another go using two different flavor combinations. I was indecisive. Plus, we have a small food processor so I could only do 1/2 batch at a time anyway. I made one inspired by Swedish Limpa bread, a dark rye with orange zest, caraway, fennel and anise seed. Then I went with the classic Swedish flavor combo of orange and cardamom.
The results? Over the top awesome! I took a sample to knitting and I didn’t even get a whole cookie of both flavors. Almost everyone said they liked both flavors even though DH had anticipated a win for the orange cardamom. The cardamom version is the better choice if you are really jonesing for a sweet treat. I find both equally satisfying. Especially when enjoyed with a quality cup of coffee. The flavors are recognizable, yet pretty subtle overall. They just lend a certain roundness and depth to the flavor of the cookie that was lacking in my first version.
As far as cookie making goes, it doesn’t get much simpler. It is practically dump, run food processor, roll, chill, slice and bake. You do need to plan ahead a little as the dough really does require 3-4 hours in the fridge. I found mixing it up in the evening after supper and then baking them up the following evening worked well with my work schedule. Plus, the rolls of dough can be frozen for up to three months so you can slice and bake as needed!
How did they stack up nutritionally? Quite well in my opinion. One cookie is right around 50 calories. So you can snack on 2 or 3 without blowing your calorie budget. Plus, the whole grains and the sweetening from coconut sugar and molasses don’t cause drastic blood sugar spikes. Each cookie has nearly 1 g each of fiber and protein and only 2 g of sugar. Not bad for a 50 calorie treat if you ask me.
Rye Ice Box Cookies
Inspired by Beatrice Ojakangas’ Swedish Peasant Cookies from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
yields 72 cookies
- 1-1/3 cups rye flour
- 2/3 cups spelt flour
- 3/4 cups coconut palm sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons desired spice(s)*
- 2/3 cups unsalted butter (room temperature), cubed
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon desired liquid*
- 1 cup almonds, slivered
- Place all dry ingredients except almonds in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix them together and break down the coconut sugar slightly.
- Add butter and pulse a few more times until the dough resembles clumped sand.
- Add remaining liquid and almonds and process until a dough is formed.
- Place dough onto a lightly floured board and roll into two 8” logs. Wrap securely in waxed paper and chill for 3-4 hours or up to 4 days.
- Before baking, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Slice logs into 1/4” rounds and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 8-10 minutes. Let coo1 2 minutes on pan, then move to a cooling rack.
*For Limpa Version - Use 1/2 teaspoon each of anise seed, caraway and fennel, ground; the zest of 1 orange; and 1 tablespoon of orange juice.
* For the Orange Cardamom Version - Use 1-1/2 teaspoon of cardamom, ground; the zest of 1 orange; and 1 tablespoon of orange juice.
Nutrition Info (per cookie): 49 calories; 2.9 g fat; 1.3 g sat fat; 5.3 g carbs; 0.6 g fiber; 2.1 g sugar; 0.9 g protein.
You may notice that the orange cardamom cookies have smaller bits of almond than the limpa. You can adjust the almond size according to how long you run the food processor after adding the almonds. Smaller pieces tend to disappear in the cookie, but larger pieces make it harder to get clean slices, so find the balance you prefer.