ALTHOUGH our family used to joke that Fattigmann (FA-tee-man) meant "fat man" in Norwegian, it actually translates as "poor man." We never celebrate Christmas without these cookies that send a spicy cardamom scent wafting through the house. My mother would try in vain to keep them hidden until Christmas Eve, but my three brothers and I (and yes, sometimes even Dad) would hunt them down. The day one of us could whisper "I found the Fattigmenn" was a happy day. At first we would try to eat just one so my mother wouldn't notice, but that never worked. Eating the whole powdery batch just meant she would have to make more if we were to have any on Christmas Eve. Somehow we never felt guilty. Maybe my mother knew we would find them all along. The recipe came over from Norway when my great-grandparents and their eight children moved to Brooklyn. My mother remembers her grandmother offering bowls and bowls of them at Christmas.
8 egg yolks, beaten 3-6 tablespoons light cream Ground cardamom, enough to taste (about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons) 4 tablespoons sugar 3 cups all-purpose flour Powdered sugar for dusting Oil for deep frying
Mix together first 5 ingredients in order given, to form a dough. Roll out small amount of dough on lightly floured surface until it's about 1/8th of an inch thick. Cut into long diamonds (about 3 inches) and twist each into a bow shape. Fry in deep fat (375 degrees F.) until just golden (not crispy). Drain on paper towels. Repeat until dough is used up. Dust with powdered sugar when cool. Makes about two dozen cookies, depending on how big you make the diamonds. Prepare ahead and keep in cookie tins or in freezer. You may want to hide them.