Leena’s Finnish Slice Cookies

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Farmhouse entry with flags

When our family traveled to Finland this past summer and entered the farmhouse filled with relatives, some we had never met, little did I know that I would fall instantly in love with every one of them, but also would learn to make some of the best cookies in the world.  What I discovered is that even when two people do not speak the same language and live thousands of miles and an ocean apart, there are two things that will always connect them:  love of family and good food.

Leena mixing slice cookies 2

Meet Leena.  I love her.  I miss her.  I wish everyone had a Leena in their life.  She spoke no English and I spoke no Finnish, but we connected immediately.  It’s like we already knew each other, and we certainly did in the kitchen.  Here is Leena making her famous Finnish Slice Cookies.  Leena did not use a mixer; the dough was completely mixed with her loving and very agile hands.  I’m telling you, she can mix and stir as well as any powerful Kitchen Aid!

Leena mixing slice cookies

The dough is chilled slightly then rolled into logs, each about 8-1/2 inches long, and placed on baking sheets.  When the logs are baked, they will spread and look like this:

Slice Cookie logs whole baked

While the logs are still warm, take a long knife and gently push in the sides so they are straight and even; then immediately slice on the cookie sheet with a sharp knife into long diagonal pieces, then removed to a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice Cookie logs sliced

After the cookies were mixed and baked, the counter was then covered in coffee mugs, awaiting coffee time around 4:00.  Finns never miss their coffee time, and that was another thing I missed so much when we left Finland.  Farmhouse coffee cups

It’s family time every day.  Everyone gathers together and eats delicious items like Leena’s slice cookies, or maybe some pulla bread, doughnuts, or other delectables. It’s Finnish happy hour!  I have wonderful memories sitting around the cozy kitchen table talking, eating, and enjoying each other.

Farmhouse kitchen table empty

Leena’s Slice Cookies are easy to make but do require one ingredient that makes it special, not readily available in the USA.  However, like most everything else nowadays, it can be ordered on Amazon.  The ingredient is a syrup called in Finnish Tumma Siirappi.  The only way I can think to describe it is sort of a cross between molasses, honey, and Lyle’s Golden Syrup.  It has a taste all its own and the cookies will not be the same without it.  When not used in the Slice Cookies, it is good on pancakes, waffles, other cookies calling for molasses or honey, or drizzled on ice cream.  It is worth ordering!  One other ingredient is vanilla sugar, which is a little easier to find at specialty kitchen stores, but can also be ordered online or make your own, which is very easy.  (see recipe for instructions).

Syrup and vanilla sugar

Here are the cookies all ready to eat!  In the second photo, the cookies are in a dish shaped like the country of Finland.  I bought two sizes of the dish one small and one extra-large that I am going to have a fun time using for future Finnish foods.

Slice cookies on reindeer napkin

Slice cookies in Finn bowl on birch

The cookies are crispy, delicate, and full of a warm caramel-like flavor like no other.  Addictive.  That’s all I have to say.  They take me back to Finland and to Leena’s cozy kitchen.  I only wish I had what we have now come to call “The Leena Hug.”  No one gives hugs like Leena, or makes cookies like Leena.  I miss them both more than I can say.

4.7 from 18 reviews
Leena's Finnish Slice Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla sugar* or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tablespoons dark syrup** (Dan Sukker "Tumma Siirappi)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Notes:
  • *Vanilla sugar can be found in specialty kitchen stores or ordered online; or make your own: after using a vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out, save the pod. Plunge the pod into a container of granulated sugar and let it sit for several days, stirring occasionally. Remove pod and you now have homemade vanilla sugar!
  • ** The dark syrup called Tumma Siirappi from Dan Sukker can be ordered from Amazon. (I do it all the time!) There really is no substitution for it. It has its own unique flavor. It's worth ordering and is also good in other recipes that call for molasses or honey, or it's good on pancakes, waffles, or drizzled on ice cream.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl of electric mixer, beat together butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla sugar (if not using vanilla extract) until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla (if didn't use vanilla sugar), egg yolk, and syrup until well mixed.
  3. In another bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add gradually to butter mixture and beat until well blended. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate about 20-25 minutes or until firm enough to divide into 6 equal parts to roll into logs.
  4. Roll each part into a log about 9-inches long. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheets, 3 per sheet. I place 2 logs vertical and one horizontal. Use 3 baking sheets with 2 logs per sheet if your pans are not very large. Keep the logs fairly far apart as they will spread.
  5. Bake logs for about 12-14 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and place on stovetop. If the logs have touched each other during baking, don't worry, just take a long sharp knife and gently push them back into shape, keeping them oval.
  6. While still warm, and using a long sharp knife, cut the logs into diagonal slices about an inch apart. After cut, remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 Finnish Slice Cookies 1

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60 Responses to Leena’s Finnish Slice Cookies

  1. December 11, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    I am so happy that you got to have this experience! I know the feeling of meeting relatives abroad and feeling “home”.

    The cookies look delish. I feel I must order the syrup and give these a try.

    • December 11, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

      I hope you will love them, Helen!

  2. December 11, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    Would like to subscribe to your site. Enjoyed your sharing and recipe.

  3. December 11, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    Loved reading about Leena and her cookies.

    I might have to order a bottle of that syrup. I always keep vanilla sugar in my kitchen. And if you can’t find it, it’s very easy to make. Just pour some sugar into a jar, tuck a vanilla bean into it, and let it “marinate” for a week or two before using.

    • December 12, 2015 at 12:32 am #

      Madonna, you won’t regret ordering the syrup after you taste the cookies!

  4. December 22, 2015 at 8:27 am #

    What treasured, warm memories for you in Finland! Love your story with dear Leena baking by hand, wearing her lovely Marimekko apron. Makes me think of my dear Finnish Grandma here in the states and all the delightful times we had sharing over a tasty fresh baked treat dipped in our coffee during the ‘Finnish Happy Hour’. Grandma always boiled her coffee the old Finnish way, too, even after we bought her a coffee maker. Somehow she did make everything taste better! Kiitos!

    • December 22, 2015 at 10:10 am #

      There’s nothing like “Finnish Happy Hour!” You are so lucky to have your Finnish grandma here in the states to make you the authentic treats and sit and chat with her. I miss that so much about Finland.

      • March 11, 2023 at 2:34 pm #

        My mom was from Denmark and I spent many summers there growing up. Coffee hour is a big part of the culture there as well. The Danes drink a lot of coffee and I remember it with round sweet rolls with Danish butter and a thin sponge cake topped with custard and fresh fruit. Items with Marzipan as well. Enjoy.

        • March 11, 2023 at 7:37 pm #

          Aly, thank you for sharing your memories. Everything sounds so good, and close to some Finnish treats!

        • May 2, 2024 at 10:38 am #

          My mother was from Denmark and during the 1960’s/70’s I spent many summers there. I remember the round rolls and the lagkage as well, She played cards so there were many coffee hours. I really miss the Lurpak butter,, I could occasionally find it when I lived around NYC but here in North Carolina it is non-existant. Sigh…..

          • May 2, 2024 at 8:47 pm #

            Aly, I think Lagkage is similar to Finnish Strawberry Cake, Täytekakku. Spongy layers are split and spread with strawberries and lots of whipped cream. Does that sound sort of like a Lagkage? Did your mother’s Round Rolls have cardamom? How nice you had those wonderful summers in Denmark and all those coffee hours! I loved having coffee time with our relatives in Finland, all such wonderful bakers. I can get Lurpak butter here around the Chicago area. I wonder if you could order some online? There are quite a few Scandinavian and Nordic sites online. Thank you for writing. Now I need to make a Finnish Strawberry Cake for Midsummer this year!

  5. July 3, 2016 at 6:45 am #

    Guess what I am baking up today for a 4th of July party–yes, Leena’s Cookies!!! Thank you, dear friend.

    • July 3, 2016 at 7:01 am #

      I can’t wait to hear how you like them! Happy 4th!

  6. December 15, 2019 at 1:33 pm #

    Where did you buy your dishes shaped like Finland?

    • December 16, 2019 at 12:47 am #

      Hi Sandra- I bought the Finland-shaped dishes at the Karl Fazur Cafe in Helsinki several years ago. They have a small size and large size. I bought both and love them! I did a search online to see if they could be ordered but found nothing. I think it will take a trip to Finland to find them!

  7. March 6, 2020 at 6:15 pm #

    Hi Debbie –
    I got very excited about these – ordered the syrup and made my vanilla sugar – and finally got around to trying them tonight. They REALLY flattened – and I’m thinking maybe I left them in too long? Also mine are very greasy where it looks like the butter didn’t fully bake in. Do you find that it’s better to make them by hand? I’m just wondering if they flattened so much because they were over-beaten. I would love to send you a picture of them to get your suggestions

    • December 18, 2023 at 8:53 pm #

      I had the same problem. Not sure how to fix this. Very disappointing.

      • December 19, 2023 at 12:33 am #

        Lori, scroll down in the comments and read my response to Rosanne Grant. Hope that helps. I wish I could be in your kitchen to help figure out why they didn’t work.

  8. January 10, 2021 at 12:30 pm #

    I’ve mase these twice now! So delicious!

    • January 10, 2021 at 12:38 pm #

      Thanks for writing, Tj! I’m so happy you enjoyed them.

  9. June 14, 2021 at 3:01 pm #

    I have a swedish recipe similar to this one. My grandma called them Swedish Syrup Cookies. She always used dark Karo syrup in her recipe. The same log shape except the swedish variety end up being shorter cookies and they have no egg. A family favorite for sure!

    • June 15, 2021 at 12:18 am #

      I have found a lot of Finnish and Swedish recipes to be very similar. The dark syrup (not Karo syrup) used in the Finnish recipe has Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian instructions for use on the bottle. I would love to see your grandma’s recipe! Thanks so much for writing.

  10. June 15, 2021 at 9:00 pm #

    Swedish Syrup Cookies:
    1 Cup Butter; 1 Cup Sugar; 2 1/4 Cups Flour; 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda; 1 Tablespoon Dark Karo Syrup and 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    Cream butter and sugar. Add sifted flour and baking soda. Then add the syrup and vanilla. Mix dough well and roll into log forms about the size of your finger. Lay 3 rolls on a cookie sheet lengthwise. Bake at 350 until light tan in color. While warm, cut into strips about an inch wide. Do not grease cookie sheets.
    I am going to try this recipe with the special syrup. I’m very curious!

    • June 18, 2021 at 10:29 am #

      Thank you so much, Saralyn! I/m going to try these!

  11. November 23, 2021 at 10:30 am #

    It would be helpful to know length and thickness of each roll since that seems like the secret to success – along with the syrup which I dif get.

    • November 25, 2021 at 12:48 am #

      Candace, the rolls I make are about 8-1/2 to 9 inches.

  12. May 25, 2022 at 4:07 pm #

    These are just fabulous. We love them! Thx for sharing this recioe!

  13. December 24, 2022 at 12:50 pm #

    These are so good! I got beet molasses from a local German import grocer. I think it’s a close equivalent. It definitely gave it a tangy but caramelized taste, different from regular molasses. They turned out very flat, but not hard. I may have over beat or over baked, but still mega delicious!!!!!
    I will be making them a ton

    • December 26, 2022 at 7:11 am #

      Anna, I am always happy to hear when my readers make these family favorite cookies! I still love my memories of learning to make these in Finland with a beloved cousin.

  14. April 9, 2023 at 6:30 pm #

    I have made these cookies twice now, they are the absolute bomb! Glad I got two bottles of the syrup.

    • April 9, 2023 at 8:28 pm #

      Kate, I am thrilled you loved these cookies! They are the best. FYI- the syrup is great on oatmeal too!

  15. May 18, 2023 at 4:28 pm #

    These cookies are sublime! It is good that I got 2 bottles of the syrup because they will be in my regular rotation.

    • May 19, 2023 at 9:02 am #

      I couldn’t agree more, Kate. These cookies are our family treasure! The special syrup gives it that flavor like no other. I’m so happy you tried them! Thank you for writing.

  16. July 14, 2023 at 7:12 am #

    The special syrup is winging its way to me. The cookie recipe looks wonderful, but it was your beautiful writing about Leena and the family visit that drew me to them. Thank you.

    • July 14, 2023 at 7:38 am #

      Thank you, Anita. You are going to love the cookies, and I’m especially happy that Leena was your inspiration to make them. She is one of a kind with such a beautiful soul.

  17. September 1, 2023 at 9:33 am #

    I LOVE this recipe, thank you for posting it, Debbie!

    I made the cookies last night, they have a wonderful unique taste. But I was wondering, are they supposed to be crispy or chewy? I like them either way, but I’d really like to know, what texture Leena’s cookies are.

    • September 1, 2023 at 10:18 pm #

      Hi Carolyn- I’m thrilled you loved the cookies! They are supposed to be crispy. If they come out chewy, maybe they needed to bake a little longer, or they were sliced too thick. They also crisp up as they cool. Leena would be so happy you made them! Thanks for writing.

  18. September 3, 2023 at 8:18 pm #

    I just made these, they are so good. I’m bookmarking and saving the recipe. Thanks!

    • September 3, 2023 at 11:27 pm #

      So happy you liked them, Annie!

  19. November 12, 2023 at 8:19 am #

    Thank you so much for this recipe of Leena’s cookies. They look absolutely delicious and I am definately going to try them.

    Us in South Africa like our cookies crisp….ideal for dunking .

    I know I will have trouble finding the syrup but do you think molasses will be okay substitute?

    • November 13, 2023 at 11:10 pm #

      Hi Gerda- The cookies are wonderful for dunking. They get nice and crisp with a flavor like no other. Many people have asked about substituting molasses for the dark syrup. While molasses could be used, it will not have the same special flavor as the dark syrup. I never have a problem ordering it online so I hope you will try. Thank you for writing.

  20. December 2, 2023 at 10:15 am #

    Just came upon your site and recipe! My daughter and I went to Finland this past summer and met many wonderful cousins. I also have a Lena! Most of my family is in Tornio. I will definitely try these cookies this Christmas! Hyvaa Joulua!

    • December 3, 2023 at 12:25 am #

      I’m so happy you found me, Donna! I’ll have to look up Tornio; I’m not sure where that is. Finland is so beautiful! We loved everything from Helsinki to the arctic circle. Since we visited Finland and met so many cousins, they came here to visit too. We dream of returning. The cookies are incredibly good- I know you will love them! Thank you so much for writing!

  21. December 3, 2023 at 5:48 am #

    Good morning Debbie and all CC readers! I had an interesting mishap with my Finnish Slice cookies last week. I always double the recipe and freeze 12 balls that I can then take out whenever I want to serve them. When I baked 2 from the last batch, they came out completely FLAT and looked bubbly like those snowflake cookies. I was about to toss them when my husband said we at least need to see what they taste like. OH MY!! They were like a crisp, intensely flavored toffee bark! With a little bit of a burnt taste – like browned butter would be. I must have forgotten to double the flour. But I’ll not be throwing away the rest of those dough balls!! Incredible!

    • December 3, 2023 at 11:00 am #

      Hi Roseanne- I’m glad even with the mishap that they tasted good! I wanted to make sure that you are baking them as logs, not as round balls. You called them balls but I wasn’t sure if you meant that they stayed balls or you formed the balls into logs before baking. For one batch of dough, I make 3 logs, each about 8-1/2 inches long. At this point they can be baked immediately, refrigerated for later, or frozen for later. After the logs come out of the oven, immediately take a long knife and gently push in both sides before slicing on an angle to make uniform slices. I have never doubled the recipe so I’m not sure it makes any difference. Thanks so much for writing, and I hope you continue Leena’s legacy of her incredible Finnish cookies!

  22. December 3, 2023 at 7:56 pm #

    Thanks so much for responding so quickly. Yes I do bake them as logs. But after making the batter, I weigh it and then divide it into 6 portions (12 for a double batch), roll each portion into a ball, and freeze the balls separately. When I want to bake them, I let the balls defrost and then roll them into logs before baking them. They really are wonderful! One day try them with half the flour! LOL
    I hope you and your family have a lovely holiday!

    • December 3, 2023 at 11:25 pm #

      Thank you, Rosanne. Wishing you and your family a lovely holiday season too! (with lots of slice cookies! 😉

  23. December 6, 2023 at 1:35 pm #

    Absolutely amazing and DO NO substitute molasses. The best cookie i have ever eaten in my 38 years of life!

    • December 6, 2023 at 9:14 pm #

      Jaime, I am so glad you said that! I get asked often about substituting molasses and it definitely is not the same cookie at all with molasses or anything else. I’m thrilled you love Leena’s cookies. There is nothing like them. I will never forget my first bite of them when we were in Leena’s kitchen in Finland. Best cookie ever.

  24. December 29, 2023 at 6:06 pm #

    Amazing cookies! We tried them for the first time at Christmas. They are a favorite already. Thank you for sharing!

    • December 29, 2023 at 10:21 pm #

      I’m so happy you liked them, Michelle! Thanks for writing. Happy New Year!

  25. January 2, 2024 at 6:10 pm #

    I had a similar issue the first few times I made them. As a general rule I always assume 120 grams for a cup of flour. When I was having the problem with them being too greasy after baking, I researched gram weights of flour and found that they ran anywhere from 120 to 140 grams per cup. I switched to 280 grams of flour and the problem went away. They are perfect!

    • January 3, 2024 at 8:10 pm #

      I’m glad you like them, Rosanne!

  26. March 10, 2024 at 1:17 pm #

    Thank you for this recipe. I love trying new flavors so the syrup was a must. Now I’m experimenting with different alternate sweeteners to see which one produces results closest to Leena’s original cookie…I’m trying to make them more diabetic friendly. They are a total treat AND addicting! Blessings to Leena and you, for sharing!

    • March 10, 2024 at 9:21 pm #

      Shoy, I am thrilled you enjoyed Leena’s wonderful cookies. If you develop a diabetic friendly version, I would love to hear! Thanks for writing.

  27. March 17, 2024 at 6:55 am #

    I recently discovered Wilhemina cookies after buying some from our local Finnish bakery. Despite having 100% Finnish heritage, I had never heard of them before (and neither had any of my Finnish relatives). They were so tasty, I wanted to bake some myself. A google search for the recipe brought me to your website. I just baked my first batch this morning. They are hands down the BEST COOKIE EVER! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    • March 17, 2024 at 11:29 pm #

      Karen, I am so happy you found me and now you have our cousin Leena’s wonderful cookie recipe! Thank you so much for writing. I agree- they are the best cookies ever!

  28. April 5, 2024 at 2:30 am #

    It looks such a great recipe but Amazon no longer seem to have the syrup. Can you please suggest an alternative I can try. I have golden syrup, black treacle, molasses and maple syrup – is there a combination that might work, please?

    I have a friend going to Helsinki later this year – guess what I will be asking her to bring back for me!

    • April 5, 2024 at 11:21 pm #

      Hi Sandra- I just ordered the dark syrup tonight but the shipping was expensive. I had to order it through a Nordic site called Nordic Ex Pat. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for the special flavor of the dark syrup. We have tried molasses, honey, maple syrup, golden syrup, and combinations but none tasted like the cookies are supposed to taste. You are so lucky to have a friend going to Helsinki to bring some back for you. Stock up! Once you taste the cookies you will see why there is no substitute. Also ask your friend to bring back some Karl Fazur chocolates. They are wonderful!

  29. April 6, 2024 at 6:05 am #

    I just checked Amazon and the syrup is in stock and has free shipping. I do have Prime. Maybe that’s why the shipping is free?
    You’re gonna love them! I had to go with 280 grams of flour (as opposed to 120 grams which I typically consider for 1 cup) to absorb the butter nicely like they look in the photo.

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