Last night was fattigmand (faht-e-mahn) night. It seems that most of the ethnic cookies we make have some sort of ritual involved, whether intentional or not. The local elderly expert once told me it turns out best made after dark and during a full moon. She may have been at least partly right. I’m never sure if there is a full moon, but we nearly always make it at night! The timing has more to do with the fact we hate to submit all the daytime help to the cloying smell of frying lard than the advice I received from Olga.
Fattigmand is a Norwegian recipe passed down from my great-grandmother. It means ‘poor man’s cookie’. It seems each European culture has its own version of fattigmand. When I take it to shows I get all sorts of comments. “This is what was called ‘______’ by my Polish/German/Russian/French grandmother”. And, as with all homemade food, it either tastes “just like mom’s” or nothing at all like hers!
My great-grandmother made it around Thanksgiving time and stored it in a large tin in the enclosed porch. At Christmas, Great Grandfather Renden would have his small glass of wine and some fattigmand.
The dough is a simple mixture of egg yolks, sugar, cream, flour and brandy.
I use a special cutter, but a sharp knife will do the same job.
They don’t have to be twisted, but they are so much prettier on the plate!
Kaitlin’s job is to fry them until they are golden. Just like grandma, we use lard. I used to render my own, but have moved into the 21 century in some respects! I have tried using shortening, but they lose some of their special texture and the flavor isn’t quite the same.
Despite the fact that we both smelled like lard, we agreed that there is something particularly satisfying about having a lovely mound of freshly sugared fattigmand waiting to be packaged (or eaten!). And we made them at night (not sure about the phase of the moon) just like Olga said!