Racine, Wisconsin is the home of kringle, a butter-rich, tender-crusted Danish pastry filled with nuts or fruits, formed into giant ring and topped with a sugar glaze or icing. The ring is cut into small pieces that go great with coffee. Of the several bakeries in Racine that specialize in kringle, Larsen’s is a special joy to visit, for the various kinds of kringle are arrayed on the bakery shelf to admire, and there often are little samples on the counter to taste. The classic kringle fillings are almond, pecan, or raspberry; in addition to these, Larsen makes almond-macaroon, chocolate, date, apricot, apple, and many others including a turtle kringle that is iced with chocolate and filled with rum-flavored caramel.
Since discovering turtle kringle, we’ve found it impossible to drive by Racine without stopping for a ring to eat in the car (sloppily – this is NOT hand-food). Our ritual is to buy one turtle kringle and one fruit kringle and alternate between the two of them on our way around Lake Michigan. But there was an occasion, a while ago, when the kitchen had completely sold out of turtle kringle. Instead, we got a raspberry kringle and a pecan kringle and enjoyed the heck out of both of them; and, to make up for our turtle deprivation, the lady behind the counter suggested we try a turtle fritter. What a good idea! The turtle fritter is a big, holeless donut made of chocolate-marbelized dough, iced with chocolate, caramel and nuts. It wasn’t as elegant as kringle, but as we left Racine, we wish we had bought a bagful.
If you are traveling between Chicago and Milwaukee, and have any kind of sweet tooth, be sure to mark Racine on the map. Stop at Larsen’s and indulge! If you are not passing through, be aware that Larsen ships kringle to all fifty states. (Christmas orders must be placed before December 1st).