My beloved grandfather, Don Mathison, was a proud Norwegian-American and as a child our family Christmas feasts showcased traditional specialties like lefse and pickled herring, as well as sweet pastries made by my mom, like krumkake and rosettes.
With much of my life overrun by all things Italian these days – men, pasta, pride – the holidays present a welcome opportunity for me to celebrate my Norwegian heritage in the best way I know – through food.
Ever since I started writing my weekly newspaper column six years ago, I have endeavored to add a new Nordic specialty to my holiday repertoire, which now includes traditional favorites like krumkake, gravlax, Norwegian meatballs, gløgg, fruktsuppe, grilled Norwegian salmon with lingonberry sauce and bløtkake (a marvelous Norwegian cream cake).
My mother made these traditional favorites when I was a girl, and years later our dear friend, Lin Smithwick, would give us a large platter of her famous rosettes every year at Christmas, a tradition that lasted for about a decade until her passing in 2013.
I might not be a rosette master just yet, but I am happy knowing that this beloved Norwegian specialty will once again, and forevermore, adorn our holiday table. God jul!
I would love to know:
- Do you have a favorite holiday tradition inspired by your heritage?
- If you’ve made rosettes, would you share your secrets and tips with me (and our readers)?
Please share your stories and tips with me in the comments section below.
1 cup flour, sifted
1 egg, lightly beaten
Pinch of salt
1 cup whole or 2% milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 to 6 cups canola oil
Place a wire rack on work surface and cover with paper towels.
Use a stand mixer with wire whisk attachment (or mix by hand with a whisk) to combine all ingredients until the mixture is smooth, creamy and free of any lumps. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes for crispiest results. Transfer batter to a shallow pan (like a pie plate or cake pan).
In a deep fryer or large, heavy pan (I use a Dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 375 degrees. Use a candy or deep-frying thermometer to ensure accuracy and continue to adjust heat as needed throughout the process.
Dip the rosette iron into the hot oil, completely submerging it, and hold it there for about 30 seconds to “season” the iron. Remove and shake off any excess oil, then blot lightly on a paper towel.
Dip the heated iron into the batter to about ¾ up the sides of the mold, being careful not to fully submerge it. Dip the batter-covered iron into the hot oil so that the mold is completely submerged.
Fry the rosette(s) for about 30 seconds until they voluntarily pop off the mold or use a knife or other toll to gently loosen it free.
Fry until lightly browned on one side, then use tongs, a long stick (like a skewer or chopstick), or a fork to carefully flip and brown the other side, about 1 to 2 minutes total. Repeat process with remaining batter. Check the thermometer often and adjust the heat level as needed to maintain 375 degrees.
Remove browned rosettes from oil and transfer to the paper towel rack to drain. Place the rosettes with the hollow side down to allow the oil to drain off. If coating in decorative (granular) sugar, dip the rosettes while still warm for best adherence.
If dusting with powdered sugar, wait until rosettes have completely cooled and sprinkle just before serving.
Store rosettes in a cookie tin or airtight container for several days. To freeze, place rosettes in a single layer on a baking sheet and flash freeze for one hour. Stack in an airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months. Before serving frozen rosettes, place cookies on a baking sheet and warm in a 300-degree oven for 5 minutes, or microwave on high for 10 seconds.
- Just like a pancake, the first batch or two may not yield the best result, but you will get a feel for the process as you go along, so don’t get discouraged.
- Be efficient as you work to ensure best results – after one batch has separated from the iron into the oil, re-dip the iron into the batter and quickly submerge into the oil, keeping an eye on the rosettes already frying.
- For a seasonal flair, dip the tops of warm rosettes into colored sugar until lightly coated.
- For a richer pastry, add an extra egg to the batter.
- For lighter, even more delicate rosettes, use cake flour and sift three times before adding to the batter.
- Add a ½ teaspoon of almond or lemon extract for additional flavor.
- For spice rosettes, add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg to the batter.