When it comes to Krokaner (aka bridge cookies, horse collar cookies, Santa Lucia cookies, saddle cookies), folks mostly seem to be in one of two categories. There are the folks who travel to the store or call the mail order department from all over the country, voices full of joy and wonder when they are told, “Yes, we do carry Krokaner pans and we can absolutely ship one to you.” And then there are the folks who hold up the weird shaped silver pan with the question “what is this thing?” clearly written on their faces.
I was in a category in between. The question I had was “why is this a thing?” Based on recipes and pictures I had seen, Krokaner were just weirdly shaped sugar cookies. Sugar cookies are already a fussier cookie by nature; why take it a step further and make a sugar cookie that is impossible to stack and looks like it would snap in half the minute it was touched?
For our customers, it seems that nothing else in the store has consistently evoked the same intensity of excitement, pride for family traditions, and relief of a long search finally ended. Clearly, I was missing something and I wanted to figure out what it was.
I borrowed two pans and got a recipe and lots of tips from coworker and baker extraordinaire, Lois, convinced another coworker, Kate, to come bake with me, and bartered future cookies to Steve in the meat market in exchange for some cream. Kate and I were ready to uncover the mystery of the Krokaner.
With a healthy mix of butter, cream, and eggs, the dough rolls out like a dream and doesn’t stick to the counter or anything else. To my surprise, cutting equally sized strips of dough to lay on the pans felt much less fussy than the spatial reasoning puzzle created by cookie cutters.
Before long, we had a pan of hot, golden brown cookies on a hot pad on the counter. We followed Lois’ advice and let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the pan before trying to move them to the cooling rack. We broke the first few but quickly learned how to slide the cookies off of the pans.
The broken cookies made excellent samples. Krokaner taste exactly how I want a sugar cookie to taste: a perfect level of sweet, balanced with the richness of butter and cream.
Once the cookies cooled, it was time to decorate! Some of the recipes I had seen on the internet called for 7 minute frosting but we decided on a simple powdered sugar frosting. The delicate looking cookies held up remarkably well to being handled while we piped frosting on them and loaded them with sprinkles. A few broke but, if I’m being honest, most were broken accidentally on purpose because I wanted an excuse to sample some with frosting.
But, for some reason I can’t explain, Krokaner are ridiculously fun to make. Something about the cute arch shaped cookies is uniquely satisfying. Plus, the dough is super easy to work with and they taste delicious.
I might not have the same level of passion for Krokaner as someone who’s family has been making them for generations, but a pair of pans is definitely going on my wish list!
You can find the Heidi and Kate’s recipe here.