Cardamom Cookies (Kardemommekager)

Cardamom pods (capsules) and seeds

Cardamom pods (capsules) and seeds

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

Sand cookies are a great Scandinavian treat, but I’m not sure why they are called ‘Sand‘. While this cookie does’t have ‘sand‘ in its name, it is still a sandkager cookie.

There are two main types of Sand cookies:

  • 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.
  • Sand kager (Norsk, Swedish) or sandkager (Dansk): These are most like Scottish shortbread and can be made by pressing outward to cover an entire cookie sheet, then cutting into squares after baking, or rolling into balls and flattening with a sandkager press.  NOTE: Sandies is an Anglicized name for this cookie. Cornmeal sandies are not Scandinavian, but are a similar cookie.

Sandkager press

When I was a kid, we bought dried (chipped) beef to make SOS – chipped beef on toast – for a casual dinner.  This dried beef came in small glass jars with a cut-glass design on the bottom that looked like a star or a daisy.  Mom saved these glasses for serving orange juice with breakfast, but they also came in handy for pressing the design into a shortbread or sand cookie; I still have one of these glasses and treat it with great care.  I also have a cute cookie press that imprints a cat within a square on a round cookie – this is a twist on the Scotts press for shortbread cookies, that traditionally imprints a scottie dog on the cookie.

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; however, it adds a caramel color that may not be desirable for holiday celebrations.

Flour: 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 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.

Flavoring: While many sand cookies include almond flavoring – either as an extract, or as ground almonds, this cookie is flavored with cardamom spice.  Cardamom is a wonderful spice and is often used in Danish and Norwegian recipes, especially at Christmas time.  It comes from India and is considered one of the curry spices.  The cardamom pod has a papery outer shell that contains small almost-black seeds (see image at beginning of this post).  To use this spice you must remove these tiny seeds from the papery pod covering, and then crush or grind the seeds.  Or you can buy it already ground, but check for freshness before using.

Cardamom Cookies (Kardemommekager)

Cardamom is a wonderful spice and is often used in Danish and Norwegian recipes, especially at Christmas time.

I’ve not tried this recipe yet; the original (from Wonderful Wonderful Danish Cooking by Ingeborg Dahl Jensen) does not say how many cookies it makes.  My guess would be 2 – 3 dozen, depending on size.  I’ve altered the original recipe to use half whole wheat/half white flour, but you could certainly use all white flour.  It must be quite sweet, as it uses twice as much sugar (per cup of flour) than most other sand cookies.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Flour-Spice mixture:
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour (or a mix of white and whole wheat pastry flour), measured after sifting
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp crushed or ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Cookie
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup Rapadura sugar or white cane sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • granulated white sugar
  • Equipment:
  • flour sifter
  • stand mixer fitted with dough hook
  • mixer bowl
  • cookie sheet(s)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour cookie sheet.
  2. Place flour in sifter; add baking soda and spices.  Sift into a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together in large bowl until smooth.
  4. Add egg and mix well.
  5. Measure 1 cup of the sifted flour mixture, passing a knife blade across the top of the measuring cup so that the flour is exactly even with the rim.  Do not pack the flour into the cup.  You can do this in ½-cup batches, or all at once, adding to the butter mixture.  Mix well.
  6. Shape the cookies:  Roll bits of dough into tiny balls; placing on prepared cookie sheet, about 1″ apart.  Flatten with sandkager press, or bottom of a glass, to the size of a 50-cent piece (about 1″ diameter).
  7. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned on the edges, 10 – 15 minutes?  Rest a few minutes, then remove to rack to cool.


  1. Wonderful Wonderful Danish Cooking, by Ingeborg Dahl Jensen (see Beloved Cookbooks for more)

About Cat

See my 'About' page
This entry was posted in Baked, Dairy, Eggs, Fat or oil, Flour, Leavening, Spices, Sweetener and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.