The dreamy, light and crisp texture of these Swedish Dream Cookies is like no other cookie. They are airy, a little sandy, and have a light vanilla flavor. Basically, they are like little shortbread cookies, but with a much more delicate structure that is achieved by using a specialty rising agent called baker's ammonia.
These cookies have been legendary in my family since I was little. We aren't Swedish, but my aunt has a good friend in Sweden who introduced us to them. They quickly became a hit, but although she gave us the recipe, we couldn't make them without access to the mythical secret ingredient, called hjorthornssalt in Swedish.
Now that it is so much easier to research just about anything, we discovered that it is called baker's ammonia, or ammonium carbonate, and is easy to find online. It serves as a rising agent instead of baking powder or baking soda, and it is the key to that airy texture.
The only thing about baker's ammonia is that, well, it STINKS! It really smells terrible while you are making these cookies. But, the smell totally dissipates during baking, and the final cookies have no ammonia smell at all.
There is one other specialty ingredient in these cookies, vanilla powder, which gives them their light vanilla flavoring. This is used instead of vanilla extract to avoid adding liquid to the dough.
If you don't have vanilla powder, you can try vanilla extract as a substitute, or try making your own vanilla sugar. Just put a vanilla bean in a canister of sugar, and let it sit for a couple of weeks to take on the flavor of the bean. Then just use the vanilla sugar in place of the regular sugar and omit the vanilla powder.
Making the Cookie Dough
This cookie dough is easy to put together. After you preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C/gas mark 2), combine the flour, baker's ammonia and vanilla powder and whisk them all together.
Next, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined, and then add in the oil a little at a time, mixing well each time you add more oil.
Once the oil is all combined, just add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, and mix until you have a uniform dough. It will be a stiff dough, and a little sandy, but will stick together when you squeeze it.
Scoop the dough into little portions with a tablespoon or a cookie scoop, and then use your hands to roll them into tight balls. Arrange them on a parchment-lined baking tray and pop them in the oven!
If they start to brown at all, they are overdone. This is why they are baked at such a low temperature, because they will start to brown before all of the ammonia dissipates at a higher temperature.
When you take them out of the oven, do a sniff test to make sure there is no ammonia smell coming from the cookies. If there is, put them back in for a couple of minutes and check again.
If you are a fan of shortbread-style cookies, I highly recommend giving these a try! Let me know what you think in the comments if you make these traditional Swedish Dream Cookies.
Swedish Dream Cookies
- Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C/gas mark 2).
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Add the flour, vanilla powder and baker's ammonia to a medium size mixing bowl and whisk to combine. (Fair warning, it smells terrible!) Set this bowl aside.
- Add the butter and sugar to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and cream them together until they are fully combined.
- A little at a time, add the oil to the butter mixture, stirring well after each addition.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until fully combined.
- Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, portion the dough out into balls, and then use your hands to roll them into smoother balls.
- Arrange the cookie dough balls on your baking tray with about 2 inches (5 cm) of space in between them.
- Bake cookies for about 20-24 minutes. Do not open the oven during this time, because the ammonia smell will be strong!
- The cookies will be done when they no longer smell of ammonia. They should not be brown at all on top. Cool on a cooling rack.
- These cookies will keep well at room temperature in an airtight container for about a week.