Poor Man Cookies (Fattigman)

Poor Man Cookies (Fattigman) on plate on wooden floor by fir branches

Kari Diehl

  • Total: 65 mins
  • Prep: 60 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 48 cookies (24 servings)

Scandinavia is known for its delicious sweets. One of those is fattigman, also known as poor man cookies or poor man knots. Although they are made of almost the same ingredients as goro–Norway's "affluent" cookies–poor man cookies are quickly fried rather than baked on an elegant cookie iron.

You will need a pastry cutter to get the scalloped edges that are the traditional shape; if you don't have a pastry cutter, you can certainly just cut straight edges. Once cut, you form the diamond shapes into knots by pulling one end of the diamond through a center slit. The addition of a tablespoon of cognac, brandy, or bourbon is optional but it serves the purpose to help keep the dough from absorbing as much oil during frying.

Add these to your holiday cookie baking for a whole new taste experience.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup superfine baker's sugar
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon cognac or brandy
  • 3 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (whipped into stiff peaks)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom (freshly ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For frying: 6 cups vegetable or canola oil
  • Garnish: vanilla sugar or powdered sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Poor Man Cookies
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  2. Cream together the eggs, sugar, and brandy (if using).

    Mixed eggs and sugar in glass bowl forPoor Man Cookies
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  3. Stir in the melted butter.

    Butter stirred into mixed eggs and sugar in glass bowl forPoor Man Cookies
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  4. Gently fold the whipped cream into the batter.

    Whipped cream folded into batter for Poor Man Cookies
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  5. Sift together the flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt.

    Flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt sifted together for Poor Man Cookies
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  6. With a light hand, mix the dry ingredients into the batter to form a soft dough. You want to avoid handling the dough much. Otherwise, the cookies will end up tough.

    Mixing dry ingredients into the batter to form a soft dough in bowl forPoor Man Cookies
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  7. Chill the dough, covered, for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

    Dough in bowl with plastic wrap for Poor Man Cookies
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  8. Roll the chilled dough out on a floured board to a thickness of 1/8 inch.

    Rolling dough out with rolling pin for Poor Man Cookies
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  9. Using a fattigman cutter or a pastry cutter, cut the dough into diamond shapes about 1 1/4-inch wide by 3 1/2-inches long. If you're using a pastry cutter, cut the dough first into 1 1/4-inch strips and then cut across these diagonally to form diamonds.

    Diamond cuts into dough for Poor Man Cookies
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  10. Use a knife to cut a 1/2-inch slash in the middle of each diamond.

    Knife cuts slit in middle of each diamond of dough for Poor Man Cookies
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  11. Twist one corner of each diamond up through the center slash to make a knot.

    Corner of each diamond folded into slit for Poor Man Cookies
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  12. Heat 2 inches of oil in the bottom of a heavy pot to 375 F.

    Thermometer measuring temperature of liquid in pot forPoor Man Cookies
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  13. Drop in the pastry knots and fry them until they are golden brown, turning occasionally.

    Pastry knots deep frying in pot of oil for Poor Man Cookies
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  14. Remove and drain on paper towels.

    Poor Man Cookies draining on paper towel
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  15. Sprinkle the cookies with vanilla sugar or powdered sugar and serve immediately.

    Poor Man Cookies
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Storage

You can store your cookies for up to a week in an airtight container. But many people think they taste best as soon as they've cooled enough to enjoy, immediately after frying.

Tip

If you're preparing the cookies ahead, store them in an airtight container without sprinkling with sugar. Warm them in a low oven before serving and then sprinkle with the sugar.

Variations

One traditional way to cook fattigman cookies is in lard rather than oil. Lard was common before today's cooking oils came into vogue. Many who have tried both far prefer those cooked in lard, so you may want to give that a try.