Bessastaðakökur – Icelandic Presidential Cookies

We foolishly decided that the English name for Bessastaðakökur should be “Presidential cookies”. The cookies were famously always offered guest at Bessastaðir, the official resident of the president of Iceland, by Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the first female democratically elected president. We’ve no idea if they are served today. Call us, Guðni. The cookie, however, predates Vigdís’ stay in Bessastaðir.

Jakobína Thomsen is thought to be the inventor of this great cookie, that has stood the test of time for at least a century. Jakobína lived in Bessastaðir and was the wife of Grímur Thomsen, a famous poet and editor that later a member of parliament. Or should we say, Grímur was the husband of Jakobína. 

Bessastaðakökur are now a crucial part of today’s home baker’s repertoire and a must-bake cookie for Christmas

So that’s the brief history of Bessastaðakökur. If you want more recipes for Christmas cookies, check out Lakkrístoppar



  • 250g flour
  • 250g butter (clarified)
  • 125g Sugar
  • 125g Icing Sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • Demerara Sugar
  • Roughly chopped almonds (or other nuts if you have no almonds)
  • 1 egg (or yolk) for egg wash


  1. First off clarify the butter. This can be done by slowly melting the butter over low heat until it separates. Transfer it to a bowl or a container and let it cool. Once cool, remove it from the container and remove the white residue from the bottom, and voilá, you have clarified butter!
  2. Next thing to do is to combine the flour and sugar. Roughly chop the butter and add to the dry mixture. Knead it well until it forms a homogeneous dough. Here you can either roll it out to 2.5cm(1in) wide sausages and cut it into disks, OR, roll it out in to about 0.5cm(⅕ in) an use a cookie cutter to cut out your disks. 
  3. After placing them on a baking sheet, pencil them with your egg, and top them off with Demerara sugar and almonds. 
  4. Place into a 180c(356f) oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.