Ever heard of baker’s ammonia? Or perhaps you know it by ammonium carbonate, Hartshorn, hjorthornssalt or  sal volatile? It’s an old ingredient, new to my kitchen.

I’ve been completely off the radar because we had guests for 20 days over the holidays. My in-laws visited from Greece and we were lucky enough to have my sister-in-law and her boyfriend for half of the time as well. It gave me an excuse to do quite a bit of cooking! Hosting Christmas brunch and dinner  was a treat. I wish I’d had the time to blog about it along the way.

My mom visited Chicago a few days before Christmas and brought an enormous bag full of food to help me feed the crowd… chips, dips, crackers, cheeses and hiding at the bottom, a tin of cookies. Inside were these crunchy, light little sugar cookies that she had labeled “Drommar – Swedish Dream Cookies.”  My mom and I talk often and I was surprised she hadn’t mentioned the cookies as she doesn’t bake regularly so it was unexpected to find a homemade tin of cookies hiding at the bottom of all the booty.

When my family gathered at her house for our New Year’s celebration, she was excited to gift each of us a bottle of Ammonium Carbonate or “Baker’s Ammonia” and tell us about the Swedish Dream Cookies.  My mom guessed that I had heard about it since I bake so often but it was new to me. I LOVE an unexpected discovery!

Ammonium Carbonate is an old leavening agent, used before baking soda or baking powder. It is also the main ingredient in smelling salts. The first time I opened the bottle, I was not shy about taking a whiff and almost flew off the couch. It would definitely revive you if you were in need. When your cookies or crackers bake, you will notice an odd smell but don’t worry, it dissipates.  From what I’ve read so far, the Baker’s Ammonia is responsible for extra crispness. There is definitely a unique taste to these crunchy, light sugar cookies that I can only attribute to this new found ingredient.

Let me know if you have any favorite recipes. I am anxious to continue my exploration of this antique leavening agent. If you are interested in giving it a try, you may be able to find it at specialty stores or you can buy it online here.

Happy New Year! I’ll ease off baked goods and towards “resolution eating” in the coming weeks.

Drommar – Swedish Dream Cookies
Makes about 50 cookies

8 T butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp baker’s ammonia
2 cups flour

Perheat oven to 300 degrees Farenheit. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add the oil. Mix the flour with the baker’s ammonia. Stir into the creamed mixture. Form 1 tsp of dough into small balls and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes, until bottom is set and then remove from oven. Cool on a rack.