Oslo Kringle is a delicious Norwegian dessert, with the flavor and texture of a cream puff, but with a simpler preparation and fjords of delicious, almond icing.
My paternal grandmother, Gramma John, was full-blooded Norwegian. Though she was born in Minnesota, both her parents had emigrated from Norway in the early 20th century. She grew up speaking Norwegian, making lefse, and eating lutefisk.
My Aunt Cass, my mother’s sister, spent a year in Norway during college. Despite her very Polish heritage, she embraced the Norsk culture, language, and food. She was quick to teach me and my four siblings about our father’s ancestors and give gifts from Norway.
So, it should come as no surprise that when Heritage Day rolled around at school, and I or one of my siblings was called on to give a presentation, we leaned on the Norwegians.
My great uncle had gifted us a small, hand-carved wooden Viking ship that we took to show off along with the ribbons and lace items supplied by Aunt Cass. For her part, my mom baked an Oslo Klinger.
At least that’s what she called it.
My sisters and I googled it till we were blue in the face, but we could not find Oslo Klinger anywhere in Norwegian lore. Or Google as the case may be.
One sister suggested my mom must have just made it up when she was pressed for time one day and one of her progeny needed a baked good for Heritage Day. I sent out a family group text early one morning to find out more.
All of us knew how to prepare the dish: pate a choux dough, sugar icing, and almonds. We knew that much.
In her defense, Mom said that a woman from church had given her the recipe and it was she who called it Oslo Klinger and said it was Norwegian. Maybe she made it up…?
But, no! I asked the Facebook peeps and they solved the mystery! There is, indeed, a dessert called Oslo Kringle.
So the letters got a little mixed up.
The mystery is solved and our Norwegian heritage claims remain justified.
What is a Kringle pastry?
But, I found some versions similar to ours, meaning we weren’t too crazy for perpetuating this tradition.
And in case you’re wondering if it’s anything like the Kringle you can buy at Trader Joe’s, the answer is sorta. The flavors are very similar, but TJ’s version has an almond paste filling, similar to a bear claw, while this Kringle has almonds and almond flavoring as a topping.
My kids devoured both types of kringle in one afternoon, declared them both good, but stated that they liked the crunchy texture of the almond topping of this particular kringle best.
Whenever I bite into this dessert, it is like taking a bite out of my childhood. Dare I call it a Proustian moment?
It tastes just like when Mom made it. The pasty puffs up in weird little hills and valleys. The icing creates little fjords of flavor. The almonds add a nice little crunch.
Beware! Oslo Kringle is the kind of dessert that doesn’t last long. The flavors are kind of addicting and there’s no stopping until the plate is empty.
It makes a delightful addition to any breakfast, brunch, or dessert table.
How do you make Oslo Kringle?
As I mentioned before, this version of Oslo Kringle starts with a pate a choux, or cream puff pastry. It’s simple enough to do, but there are some tricks for best results.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Add the flour and salt. Cook, stirring, until mixture leaves the sides of the bowl and forms a ball around your spoon.
- At this point, it’s helpful to have a stand mixer. Transfer the hot dough to the bowl of your mixer and allow it to cool slightly. Attach the paddle attachment and run it on low until the side of the bowl has cooled to warm.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to combine. The mixture will look really weird after a while and you’ll think you did something wrong. If it looks like scrambled eggs, don’t worry.
- Keep beating until the mixture looks smooth and creamy.
- Spread the batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silat mat. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 425 degrees. The batter will puff and turn golden and crispy.
- Turn off the oven. Remove the pan from the oven and prick holes in the pastry. Return the pan to the warm oven to dry out the insides of the pastry.
- Cool the pastry on a rack. While it’s cooling, prepare the glaze.
- Combine powdered sugar, lemon zest, milk, and almond extract. Stir well with a wooden spoon until smooth.
- Drizzle the glaze over the pastry and sprinkle on the slivered almonds.
- Try not to eat it all.
Please note that you do not have to have a mixer to make pate a choux dough. However, beating in the eggs takes a little muscle. Apparently, my Norwegian ancestors were a bit stronger than I am. I had to have my teenage son take turns.
How to make this good and cheap:
You know I don’t typically want to make something if I can’t make it good as well as cheap. Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:
- Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. When I find regular kitchen staples on sale, I buy a lot. I’m currently using a price book to track prices and that’s saving me money. For this recipe, keeping an eye on the price of flour, butter, and sugars can help keep the price down.
- Buying in bulk – It’s rare that I would buy a small bag of flour. I hedge my bets by buying in bulk. I also have gotten into the habit of buying cases of flour from Bob’s Red Mill or VitaCost so that I always have baking supplies on hand.
- Load up on post-holiday clearance specials. You’ll find great deals on baking ingredients after holidays. There are lots of ways to use holiday baking items creatively.
How I make this recipe easy:
This recipe really couldn’t be easier than it is, but having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs.
Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:
- stand mixer – This makes quick work of making the dough. You can do it by hand, but I prefer the stand mixer.
- parchment paper – I hate washing pans. Parchment paper makes clean up a breeze.
- sheet pans – I LOVE my set of steel sheet pans. They make such a difference in baking.
- 1 cup water hot
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 egg
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp lemon, zested
- 2 tbsp slivered almonds toasted
- Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water and butter to a boil.
- Add the flour and salt. Cook over medium, stirring, until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball around the spoon.
- Remove the pan from heat and beat in the eggs one at a time. You can do this in the pan by hand or transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding the eggs.
- Spread the batter in a large rectangle on the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Turn off the oven. Prick holes in the pastry and allow to rest in the hot oven for 20 minutes more to dry out the insides of the pastry.
- Cool the pastry on a rack.
- In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar, milk, almond extract, and lemon zest.
- Place the pastry on a serving platter. Drizzle the icing over the top of the pastry. Sprinkle the almonds over all.
I consider our family to be rather quirky and eclectic in our food traditions. Here are other dishes I grew up with:
- Curried Potatoes
- Gramma John’s Pie Crust
- Nanna’s Apple Pie
- Pork and Sauerkraut
- Cactus Salsa
Have you got a favorite family food tradition?