Swedish Christmas Treats
Pepparkakor - regular ginger snaps. White gingersnaps. Ice chocolate. Knäck. Not without my wiener nougat! Saffron pears.
Strongly addictive and a classic in every way around Christmas in Sweden:
Pepparkakor - Ginger snaps
Knäck—Swedish Christmas toffee.
10 oz unsalted butter (2 sticks and a couple of tblsp)
1 ¾ cup sugar
1 cup golden syrup (“ljus sirap”)
1 cup water
1 tbsp baking soda (hjortronsalt or bikarbonat) mixed in with flour
6 1/3 cup flour
½ tbsp ground ginger
½ tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tbsp ground cloves
Famous food critic, writer and blogger Monika Ahlgren and her husband actor Thommy Berggren never celebrates Christmas without Wiener nougat.
½ cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp water
Mix butter, syrup, sugar and spices
Mix in flour and baking soda
Refrigerate for 12 hours
Roll the pastry very thin and cut out shapes with cookie cutters
Bake the ginger snaps at 375˚F-400˚F.
Making pepparkakor for the First of Advent.
For the frosting, place confectioners sugar in a bowl and gradually add water until frosting is firm
Decorate the ginger snaps with the frosting, let rest until dry
A long time ago, when spices like cinnamon, ginger and cloves were expensive, making gingersnaps the way we know them today wasn’t possible for most people. In southern Sweden, where many Germans lived, one option was to bake “white gingersnaps,” which taste a bit like gingersnaps and a bit like regular biscuits.
7 tbsp butter
4 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
10-15 drops lemon oil
2 tsp baker’s ammonia
3½ to 4 cups flour
Preheat oven to 257° F. Melt the butter. Mix 3½ cups of the flour with the baker’s ammonia. Beat the egg whites with the sugar until fluffy. Stir in the butter along with the lemon oil and flour. Bring the dough to the table and divide it into two parts and roll it out until it’s about .25 cm thick. Make one trial cookie, if it doesn’t keep the shape it means you must add more flour. Use cookie cutters and bake in the middle of the oven for 10-20 minutes. The cookies should be completely dry. Let them cool and then decorate them. You can also use these as Christmas tree decorations.
Another traditional Christmas treat that originates from Germany is ice chocolate. Because it has only two ingredients it’s simple to make and you can easily have your children or grandchildren help. “Ice” in this case means that the chocolate melts in your mouth and presents you with a cool feeling.
For 40-50 pieces you need:
1 oz. chocolate
2½ oz. coconut butter
small aluminum forms
Arrange the aluminum forms on a plate. Melt the chocolate and the butter on a bain-marie. Pour carefully into the forms. Let sit in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
This recipe for “Knäck” (Swedish Christmas toffee) yields approximately 40-50 pieces.
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup pale syrup
3½ tbsp butter
3½ tbsp walnuts
3½ tbsp almond flakes
Arrange the paper cups on a plate. Put nuts and almonds in a plastic bag and crush them by using a rolling-pin. Combine sugar, cream and syrup in a heavy saucepan and stir constantly over low to medium heat, until the caramel reaches 250° F. Remove the pot from the heat, add the butter and stir until melted. Add crushed nuts and almonds. Pour into the paper cups and let cool off in the fridge.
Not without my wiener nougat!
Wiener Nougat or Viennese Nougat or, in German, Schmelz-Schokolade – call it what you want, it is a perfect treat for Christmas. At least if you ask Monika Ahlberg, famous Swedish chef and food critic (and married to equally famous Swedish actor-director Thommy Berggren). “Oh, my wonderful wiener nougat, I couldn’t be without it for Christmas!” Ahlberg says she loves Christmas and all its traditions, and that’s the reason why her new book out is called “Monikas jul” (Monika’s Christmas). “The perfect Christmas for me is a lot of happy and noisy children, a lot of people and time to be together over good food.” Well, we can help you with the Viennese Nougat. Here’s Monika’s recipe: 100 g flaked almonds, 250 g soft chocolate nougat, 150 g dark chocolate. Roast the almond flakes in a dry and not overly hot frying pan. Put aside. Melt the nougat in a water-bath. Chop the dark chocolate finely and let it melt along with the nougat in the water-bath. Finally add the roasted almonds. Pour the paste into a long pan lined with an oven paper. Let it cool and become solid, then cut into pieces and enjoy!
Beautiful enough to give as a Christmas gift, but so tasty you may want to keep them for yourself.
5 cups water
juice from 6 lemons
4 cups sugar
3 vanilla sticks
.1 ounce saffron
about 15 small, hard pears
Mix water, lemon juice, sugar, and scraped out vanilla sticks and seeds and saffron in a big pot. Peel the pears and put them in the mixture. Slowly bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10-15 minutes, depending on how big the pears are. You can put a baking sheet over the pears so they don’t surface as easily. Stir occasionally so the pears cook evenly. Make sure the pears still have some bounce, don’t let them get overly soft. When done, let them cool in the mixture, then move them and the mixture into a large, clean glass jar.