Browned Butter Dreams (Cookies)

Cube of butter

Cube of butter

By Cat, Jun 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Sand cookies are a great Scandinavian treat; I’m not sure why they are called ‘Sand;‘ perhaps the texture resembles beach sand after baking. There are two main types of Sand cookies:

  • Sand kager (Norsk, Swedish) or sandkager (Dansk): These are most like Scottish shortbread and can be made by pressing out to cover an entire cookie sheet, then cut into squares after baking, or rolled into balls and flattened with a sandbagger press.  NOTE: Sandies is an Anglicized name for this cookie. PRONUNCIATION: ‘Sand’ is pronounced as it is in English; ‘Kage‘ means cake, and is pronounced as ‘kie’ (rhymes with sky); kager is pronounced as ‘kie-eh’
  • Sandbakels (Norsk) or sandbakkelser (Dansk, Swedish): For these, the dough is pressed into a tiny fluted mold that resembles a miniature tart pan. They are typically served as is (upside down so you can better see the pattern), but they may also be filled with preserves or nuts with whipped cream.

This recipe is a type of sandkager, but after forming the dough into a ball, it is not pressed flat, but left as a ball and allowed to spread into a domed shape while baking.

You must let the browned butter rest for 8 hours or overnight, before making the cookies, so keep this time issue in mind.

About ingredients for Sandkager

Sugar is an essential ingredient for the proper texture of these cookies, so I have not attempted to replace with stevia.  Minimally processed Rapadura sugar (dried sugar cane juice) will work wonderfully in these recipes, and is more healthful. It adds a caramel color to the dough, but for these browned-butter cookies, that should not be an issue.

Flour: It is important to measure the flour after sifting, then sift again. Most modern recipes call for all white flour, but I prefer to use a bit of whole wheat pastry flour to improve the nutritional quality of the cookie. Or, for a lighter color, hard white winter wheat, such as Wheat Montana’s Prairie Gold could be used.  Nutritionally, spelt is a better flour, but I don’t like it for these cookies.

Butter: Always use unsalted real butter for these cookies, for the best result. Do not use margarine or ‘vegetable spread’ for these cookies, as they will lose their shape in the oven. Also, don’t use vegetable shortening as it contains toxic trans-fats.

Browned-Butter Dreams Recipe (Drømmer I Ørkenens Sand)

I’ve not yet tried this recipe from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, by Beatrice Ojakangas, but it promises to be very good.  It is flavored with browned and cooled butter, and vanilla extract.  I’m not sure why they are called “Dreams;”  perhaps my first taste will tell.  This recipe makes 3 dozen cookies.

The original calls for 2 cups cake flour; please refer to my article on wheat flours to learn more about this controversial ingredient and its additives before deciding to use it.  Generally, I prefer to use a combination of white and whole wheat flour. Another possibility is to use 1 cup barley flour and 1 cup white or whole wheat flour; barley flour has a texture similar to cake flour.

See also  Notes on Ingredients, above.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 1 cup ( 2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour; or 1 cup each unbleached white flour and whole wheat flour (measured after sifting)
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup Rapadura sugar
  • 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Equipment
  • flour sifter
  • small heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan
  • stand mixer fitted with dough hook
  • mixer bowl
  • cookie sheet(s)
  • parchment paper (optional)


  1. Brown butter: Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring, until golden brown but not burned; it requires careful watching.  Pour into a bowl and let stand 8 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 3750 F.  Either grease and flour a cookie sheet, or cover with parchment paper.
  3. Place 1 cup each white & whole wheat flour in sifter.  Add cream of tartar.  Sift into a 3 cup bowl.  Set aside.
  4. Stir butter with fork or whisk.  Add sugar, vanilla and egg yolk; stir to combine.
  5. Measure 2 cups of the sifted flour mixture in half-cup batches, and add to the butter mixture.  After each measure, pass a knife blade across the measuring cup so that the top of the flour is exactly even with the cup.  Stir dough after each addition, until a stiff dough is formed.
  6. Shape into balls the size of small walnuts, to make 36 cookies, and place on prepared baking sheets. Do not press them down.
  7. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 – 20 minutes.  Rest on baking sheet 5 minutes, then remove to rack to cool.


  1. The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, by Beatrice Ojakangas

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