Iceland is a country with a special place in my heart, as it is where I went on my honeymoon and saw the Northern Lights for the first time with my wife. The cuisine there included a few unusual native ingredients such as puffin and rotten shark that have become semi-legendary – but the vast majority of the food was based on hearty vegetables as well as the most amazing butter, lamb and seafood I’ve ever tasted.
This particular recipe is for Loftkökur, or “Air Cookies” – a chocolate cookie traditionally made during the Christmas season that are actually quite simple to make. They are literally as light as air and melt on the tongue as you eat them. This unique texture is achieved through the use of a special leavening agent – Bakers Ammonia.
IMPORTANT NOTE: BAKERS AMMONIA IS NOT THE SAME AS CLEANING AMMONIA — DO NOT SUBSTITUTE ANY OTHER TYPE OF AMMONIA FOR IT!!!
Bakers Ammonia was used in many heirloom recipes from 100-200 years ago before the invention of baking powder. Northern Europeans still use it because it makes their springerle, Loftkökur and gingerbread cookies very light and crisp. Bakers Ammonia provides many times the leavening capability of baking powder, but at a cost. It will make your kitchen smell of ammonia while the cookies are baking – please don’t panic, the smell dissipates quickly and the cookies have zero taste of ammonia!
Hjartasalt in Icelandic aka Ammonium bicarbonate aka Bakers Ammonia can be obtained from some specialty grocery stores or via mail order from King Arthur Flour here.
You also want to use the darkest cocoa you can find, I prefer the King Arthur Black Cocoa.
There is no substituting this ingredient – you cannot make these cookies without it! This recipe is well worth trying, Citizens…and ekkert að þakka – “you’re welcome” in Icelandic. 😉
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