December 31, 2011
Kringle is a holiday treat that my mother’s family would cook in the wintertime. For many years, this thin slab of homemade pastry would provide the calories required for a hyperactive Christmas morning. It’s easy to make, highly portable, and covered in icing — in other words, pretty much perfect.
For this reason, I always assumed that tinkering with my grandmother Alice’s Kringle recipe was akin to remixing Thriller — it’s never going to be as good, so why would you?
Then, there was the butter incident. The recipe calls for margarine. I don’t use much margarine myself, so I was caught short of the two sticks required and had to wing it. So I just used butter.
And it was… good. Possibly even… better.
For years, that’s as far as I went. I kept using butter. I didn’t talk about it. Alice’s Kingle recipe was codified in a family cookbook I helped edit, the King James Bible of the family recipe boxes. But I had sampled the apple filling of knowledge, and it could not be undone. I started to wonder if other aspects of Kringle could be tinkered with. I played with the dough. I tried some new fillings. I started to take notes, add to the canon. I was hacking Grandma’s Kringle.
And here’s the thing about hacking… hacking makes stuff better. And sharable. And delicious. And at the end of the day, this is where the first Kringle came from. Then I found out that everyone else was using butter too… but not mentioning it.
You may now insert [here] your own rant about how America is still a country that makes things, but only if we actually hack and share and post pictures of pastries on the Internet. When you’re done with that, here’s what I figured out about Kringle in my variation of Alice’s recipe.