Kolasnittar, or “caramel cuts”, have always been present on the baking trays of my childhood. Maybe that’s why I think they’ve “always” been around. But despite searching for them under several names — kolakakor, kolasnittar, sirapskakor — it’s been hard to find older recipes of this delicacy.
In newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, they don’t show up until the 70s, in some supermarket ads. There are some earlier mentions of sirapskaka, but it seems to be a sponge cake-type of creation. In my cookbooks from the 20s to 50s, they don’t show up at all, despite persistent searching.
So, isn’t there anything interesting at all to say of the history of kolasnittar?
Well, we’re really scraping the barrel here… The bakery Pricks (no, that name doesn’t mean anything slightly naughty in Swedish) was founded in 1933 by two teenagers, and soon, gingerbread cookies and fine sweet rusks were the top sellers. Apparently, kolasnittar (along with bondkakor and drömmar) were the cookies produced by Pricks in Tierp on the last day of production in 2004. So, as an unusual and possibly rather insignificant piece of bakery history, I present you with one of the last cookie boxes that were delivered by Pricks in Tierp:
So, kolasnittar seem to lack in history, but they are still loved. Let us move swiftly on…
What’s in kolasnittar?
Very well, if there isn’t much to say about the origins of the cookie, what can be said of its contents? It is, after all, a simple cookie we’re dealing with here.
Recipes of kolasnittar have one thing in common, regardless of their proportions: golden syrup. It is the syrup that gives the cookie a caramel flavor and chewy texture. In most of the recipes I’ve seen — in Sju sorters kakor, The Nordic Baking Book, Vår kokbok — the syrup is said to be golden syrup. In Konditori & bageri, Ann-Sofi Forsman suggests a darker syrup instead. Hembakningrådet specifies that syrup made of cane sugar is the best-tasting, and also use icing sugar instead of granulated sugar.
In The Nordic Baking Book, Magnus Nilsson adds ginger to his caramel cuts, something I haven’t seen before. Or, rather, I’d call them ginger cuts instead. But that the cuts come in various flavors aren’t strange. Apart from the classic chocolate cuts, we have cinnamon cuts, chocolate caramel cuts, licorice cuts and ginger cuts as suggested by Ann-Sofi Forsman, and nutmeg cuts by Sju sorters kakor. Magnus Nylén recommends some flakes of sea salt on top — yum.
How to make quick and delicious kolasnittar, or caramel cuts
These cookies are quick to bake, but be prepared—they disappear quickly, too (you’ve been warned). The recipe is based on Vår kokbok’s kolasnittar, with a few tweaks.
100 gr (1/2 cups) butter, room temperature
1 dl (2/5 cups) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1 1/2 tbsp golden syrup
2 1/2 dl (1 cup) flour
1 tsp baking powder
- Set the oven to 175°C (345°F).
- Stir butter and sugar together until they are well blended.
- Mix the flour with the baking powder. Add the flour mixture, vanilla powder, and syrup to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Stir until you get an even dough.
- Prepare a baking tray with a baking paper. Cut the dough into two parts and roll them out until you have logs as long as the baking tray. Put the logs on the baking tray and flatten them slightly.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes. The cookies only get a hint of color. As soon as you’ve taken the tray out of the oven, cut the logs into individual cookies about 2-3 cm (1 inch) thick. Cut them diagonally for extra style points (the end pieces are usually sought-after for taste testing!).
Ljus sirap is a golden syrup made from sugar beets. Brands like British Lyle’s golden syrup will work well, or some Germany golden syrups, “Zuckerrübensirup”. I’ve seen light treacle or corn syrup suggested as substitutions, although I haven’t tested either.
The caramel-tasting cookies don’t really need more flavor, but you can of course go crazy like Magnus Nilsson and add some ground ginger, or some other flavor. I might test cardamom next time.