It takes special people to not just endure but embrace the dark winters, spewing volcanoes, and the isolation that are facts of life in Iceland. Indeed, resilient Icelanders have an utterly sunny outlook, with one of the longest life expectancies and highest standards of living in the world. Ever since the Vikings, Iceland's first inhabitants, set foot on this enchanting island in the 9th century, the people of Iceland have been hard at work successfully making this rugged country a hospitable and overwhelmingly desirable place to live.
Food plays a large part in Icelandic Christmas festivities and there are several local culinary traditions to be honoured over the holidays. The fun starts in early December, when families congregate to bake several types of Christmas-cookies to be eaten over the course of the coming month. An average household will usually produce around three to ten different sorts of cookies, although later years have seen an increase in the circulation of store-bought ones. One of the favored traditional cookies is Hálfmánar, or Half Moon Cookies, so-called because of their shape.
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk
Cardamom essence to taste
Rhubarb or other jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together sugar, baking powder, hartshorn powder and flour. Add soft butter and mix until crumbly. Add egg, milk and cardamom essesnce and knead until smooth. Store in a refrigerator until cold through (overnight is usual).
Flatten with a rolling pin and cut out cookies with a glass or circular cookie cutter. Put about a teaspoonful of jam in the center of each cookie, fold cookies in half and press edges together with a fork. Arrange on a lightly floured baking sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden.
Recipe adapted from Icecook, a blog about Icelandic food and cuisine.