If you don’t know what gløgg is yet then you have really been missing out. Many countries and cultures have their version of mulled wine (of which gløgg is one) – the Romans were the first to heat and spice their wine. These days, Scandinavians have got this recipe down and nowhere in the world does this drink taste as good as it does in this northern part of Europe. All Scandinavian countries have their version of gløgg, and naturally I think Norway has the best kind. Jokes aside, it is a traditional drink around the Christmas holiday and may be non alcoholic as well as alcoholic. There are pre-bottled gløggs out there for those that do not want to go to the trouble of making their own, but when you see how easy it is to make, you will never want to opt for the pre-made stuff again because my recipe is so much tastier!
The true sign of the upcoming Christmas season is when homes, restaurants and other businesses start offering a punch bowl of incredibly aromatic hot gløgg, spiced with everything from cinnamon to cloves, fresh ginger and citrus peel and served in elegant glass cups and with a surprise at the bottom: almonds and raisins. We like to serve some nutrition with our alcohol, what can I say! It’s party in a bowl and also serves to warm you up on a cold winter night.
This weekend I really noticed the sky getting darker and I even heard word of some snow flakes falling a few minutes north of where we live in New York. That is what prompted me to bring out my recipe for gløgg and I am definitely cooking this up on several nights in the coming weeks. Delicious as it is, it is also potent so be sure to savor your cup(s) !
1 x 750 ml bottle of full bodied red wine
1 – 1 1/2 cup ruby port wine
2 cinnamon sticks
4-5 whole cloves
4-5 allspice berries
3-4 star anise pods
3-4 black or green cardamom pods
2 strips orange peel (no pith)
1 knob fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 oz vodka (Optional)
Handful of blanched almonds and raisins (optional)
Combine everything in a large pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Once simmering turn heat off and let the spices steep in the wine mixture for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve strain and heat up liquid. Pour vodka in cups (optional) and add a few almonds and raisins and top off with the mulled wine. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. Proceed with caution but enjoy!!
Note: Pairs really well with RISKREM!! I would pour some raspberry syrup on that… (see recipe for that by clicking here)
Image from helsenorge.no
As a follow up to my post about the Swedish “Kanelbulle” in conjunction with Cinnamon Bun Day yesterday, I promised to provide a recipe for the American version. These are sweeter, gooeyer and topped with a delicious sweet and tangy icing. Mind you, I just whipped these up in about one hour, which is why I think these are worth a post. One hour you say? How is that possible? The reason why most of us don’t bother making cinnamon buns is that they are time consuming, because typically it consists a yeast dough which requires a lengthy time to rise. But what if you eliminated the yeast and replaced it with baking powder and baking soda? You will be surprised at the results – identical in fluffiness and taste, these take just about 1/2 the time as the regular version. They are rolled up in the same way as the Swedish kanelbuller but instead of placing these onto a cookie tray, I put them in a 9-inch cake pan which I felt made them juicier and kept the filling in better. Try these out for when you are in a rush but still want to make something impressive and delicious for your family and guests!
QUICK CINNAMON BUNS
1 tbsp melted butter for greasing the pan
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp cream cheese softened
2 tbsp buttermilk
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Directions: Pour 1 tbsp of the melted butter into a 9-inch nonstick cake pan, brush to coat the pan. Preheat the oven to 425F/210 C.
For the sugar cinnamon filling: Combine sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl. Add tbsp of the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand, set aside.
For the Biscuit Dough: Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the buttermilk and 2 tbsp of the melted butter in a measuring cup or small bowl. Add liquid to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed, about 30 seconds (the dough will look very shaggy). Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy.
Roll the dough out to a 9x 12 rectangle, brush with 2 tbsp of melted butter and sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon filling across. Starting at the bottom of the long end, roll into a ‘sausage’, cut into 8 equal pieces. Place the buns cut side up in the cake pan, starting with one in the middle, and filling the other 7 around. Brush the tops with the remaining melted butter.
Bake in the upper middle rack for 23-25 minutes until the buns are lightly golden. Loosen the sides with a spatula and using a large plate invert the cinnamon buns onto the plate. Grab a rack and invert the cinnamon buns again onto the rack with a baking /cookie sheet underneath the rack. Let the cinnamon buns cool while you make the icing. (I am bringing these to work today so I just placed them in a portable container like this right away, eliminating the cooling rack:
To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter milk and whisk thoroughly. Initially it will look like cottage cheese. Sift the confectioner’s sugar in to the mixture and whisk until smooth. Glaze the cinnamon buns and eat right away!!
In honor of Swedish cinnamon bun day today, October 4th, I was inspired to release a 2-part series about this heavenly creation. This first part will cover the true Swedish cinnamon buns or “kanelbullar” as our neighbors call them, and the next part will include a recipe for American cinnamon buns, because – after all, Americans know a thing or two about this baked item as well! That said, after eating American cupcakes, Italian panettone and French macaroons and other international sweets and breads, there is nothing tastier than biting into the aromatic, delicate, soft and juicy Swedish cinnamon bun….
The Swedes have celebrated the Cinnamon Bun Day every years since 1999. The day is observed to honor the tradition of baking at home and the Cinnamon Bun is one of the Swedish people’s pride and joy, ,something you are bound to see at every bakery and even people’s homes. The cinnamon bun originated in the 1920s, and were available for purchase for about 5 cents or so and school children would purchase these for breakfast. Later on in the 1950s, as the economy got better, people were able to afford the expensive ingredients that go into cinnamon buns, and the tradition of baking them at home got started. I have always wondered why the buns are shaped the way they are, and I read somewhere that after World War II, the cinnamon bun were developed as a variety of the traditional wheat bread. Originally wheat breads were shaped as a symbol of different religious and other celebratory gatherings.
In Norway we have also adapted these buns, and we share the love of cinnamon and cardamom in our baked goods. These soft and delicious buns have gone from an every day wheat bread that was enjoyed during the Swedish”Fika” (Coffee time accompanied by some type of baked delicacy, typically in the afternoon), to a trendy tradition today. In New York, we even have a cafe named Fika!
Because Scandinavians treasure their time at home and love to invite people over, it has always been tradition to bake something tasty and put on a pot of coffee. A variety of recipes fit for both every day and special occasions, exist – I’ve combined some of my favorite ones to the one below… I have to say the dough is one of the nicest ones I’ve worked with to date, so smooth, soft and easy to manipulate! And the smell that comes out of your oven is nothing short of heavenly… My weekend sure is going to start off well !! Hopefully I will do my Swedish friends proud!
150 grams (or 1 stick 1 tbsp) unsalted butter
2 cups milk
1 packet (2 1/2 tsp) dry yeast
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh, ground cardamom
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus more for kneading the dough
125 grams (1 stick ) unsalted butter ,room temperature (soft)
3/4 cup sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg for brushing the buns
Swedish Pearl Sugar and chopped almonds for decoration
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Heat the milk and butter until lightly warm- mix in with the dry ingredients add the egg and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough comes together, it should be smooth and still a bit sticky. You may need to add more flour and/or liquid, depending on where you are, temperature, etc.
Set aside and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap to rise until double in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
While the dough is rising, make the filling . Combine the soft butter with the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl in to a mixable, soft spread.
Preheat oven to 425F or 250C.
Knead the dough in the bowl for a couple of minutes and pour onto a work surface. Add some flour and using a rolling pin, shape into a rectangular shape, about 20 x 40 cm – or 8 x 16 inches. Spread the butter/sugar/cinnamon mix on to the dough.
You can cut the cinnamon buns in two ways: Either 1) fold the dough in half, and slice the dough in 1 inch strips, then cut the strips in half again keeping the end part intact so that it looks like a pair of jeans. Twist the legs together and fold into a circle. Or 2) Start rolling the dough together from the widest part into a roll, then cut into 1 each circle. I chose #2:
Place cut side up onto a baking sheet and let rest for another 30 minutes under a towel.
Brush with the egg and sprinkle on some pearl sugar and/or almonds if you wish.
Place the buns in the middle of the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on your oven, until nice and golden. The sugar filling may spill here, like with mine, but that doesn’t stop them from being oh-so delicious!
This recipe makes a lot but they also freeze well!
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be able to pair up with the King Oscar Seafood , a Norwegian producer of high quality canned sardines, and get to sample some of their wonderful products. King Oscar has been around for 110 years and offers canned sardines (brisling), anchovies and kipper snacks. Known by many Americans, especially those of Norwegian heritage, it remains popular to this day in this country. In an effort to keep up with modern tastes in the U.S. they recently launched two delicious new offerings: Sardines packaged with olive oil and cracked black pepper and another with jalapenos. The latter is not too hot, but simply offers a nice little heat to the gentle flavors of the sardines.
Norwegian and Nordic sardines are universally recognized as offering the best taste, the mildest aroma and the most delicate texture. The sardines are typically fished from the famously clean waters of the Norwegian fjords, where the fishing industry has long been strictly regulated, Nordic brisling naturally ensures greater product purity and reduced risk of pollutants such as mercury. Just as important, the icy habitat and perfect feeding conditions of the Nordic waters yield fish with the highest Omega 3 concentration in the world. The brisling is also a great source for protein and calcium as well.
The Norwegian fishing industry still insists on premium production methods. The fish are “thronged” in the nets, or held long enough to allow natural cleansing, an extra step that enhances texture. Most fisheries now shortcut this process. The fish going into King Oscar’s packages are caught in netting, smoked using real birch trees and packaged by hand into neat little boxes covered with the red foil with a picture of King Oscar – a symbol of quality and tradition since 1902.
Image from scanfishphoto.com
It seems strange that a Norwegian food product is named after a Swedish king, but King Oscar’s roots are well planted in Norwegian history and traditions. King Oscar, baptized Oscar Fredrik, was king of Norway from 1872-1905, and was king of Sweden from 1872 until his death. While he resided in Sweden for most of the time, he became fluent in Norwegian but simultaneously realized how difficult it was to maintain the union between these two nations. In 1905 he was dethroned by the Norwegian parliament and renounced the Norwegian throne on October 26th. Better relations were restored between the two countries before his death, which happened in 1907. King Oscar was an enthusiast of Arctic exploration and was the patron of many Arctic expeditions in the 1800s. King Oscar sardines remains the only brand to have obtained “royal permission” to use his name.
Sprat, or “brisling”, has been voted the most noble sardine of them all, by fish experts from around the world, and who have been fortunate enough to sample some of Norway’s finest fish. Fishing for brisling in the Norwegian fjords has been a lifestyle among Norwegians for centuries. In the 18th century, people started added pepper to the salted water (cure) and exported it as anchovies. The export business really took off when olive oil was added to the fish, like the sardine fishermen in the Mediterranean.
Brisling has been an important food fish, especially for canning. It is very similar to its larger cousin, the herring, but is more compact on the sides. Not as fishy as herring and not as salty as anchovies, it has become a favorite among many.
Although I think not much food preparation is necessary when eating King Oscar sardines (I love them slathered on fresh, Norwegian style rye bread with some thinly sliced cucumbers, served with a cold shot of Aquavit and a Nøgne Ø beer)- there are of course several ways to enjoy this delicate seafood. Served on top of an arugula salad lightly dressed with mustard, olive oil and lemon juice is delicious, as is using them as flavoring and garnishes on various pasta dishes with a nice and spicy tomato sauce.
Aren’t these beautiful just on their own – delicate looking enough to just eat straight out of the can!
I came across this fun curry dish using canned sardines that is just heavenly. Try it out for a different way of using this wonderful food product from King Oscar. Who knew such high quality could be had in a can?! This is definitely not the last recipe you will see from me using these tasty sardines!
KING OSCAR CURRY
2 cans whole sardines from King Oscar (the olive oil w/cracked black pepper or jalapeno kind work wonderfully)
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 medium Vidalia onion, thinly sliced;
2 gloves garlic
1-2 red chiles, thinly sliced
1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tbsp each ground cumin, coriander, curry powder, mustard seeds and turmeric
1 can coconut milk (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh Cilantro for garnish (optional)
Directions: Heat some olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Fry the spices for about 30 seconds to slightly roast them and exude their aroma. Add onions, garlic, ginger, chiles, curry powder and turmeric and and fry with cumin, mustard seeds and coriander. When onions turn slightly translucent, add tomatoes and mix well. Add about 1/4 cup water or vegetable stock and allow mixture to simmer. Add salt and black pepper to taste. When gravy starts to reduce, add in whole sardines but be careful not to stir too much and break up the whole sardines. Add in coconut milk if using and heat through. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or bread.
Eplekake, or apple cake, is as Norwegian of a dessert as they come. Americans have their apple pie, Norwegians have their apple cake. Moist, rich and juicy like a pound cake, it is stuffed with tart and sweet apples often from the baker’s own garden and flavored with a dash of cinnamon sugar and sprinkled with sliced almonds. Simple, yet one of the most satisfying of cakes our country has to offer. I have a million different recipes for eplekake. Some use sour cream instead of butter in the batter, others elect to add some heavy cream. I find that butter is best here, as the sour cream and heavy cream make it a bit too rich and does not give me the texture I’d like when paired with tart apples.
As we are moving into fall soon, my mind instantly goes to apples and all the delicious recipes I intend to make, both sweet and savory. Apple cake was the first thing that naturally popped up in my head – I don’t think one could visit Norway without having a taste of eplekake if visiting someone’s home. A staple in every house, I have very few bad examples. If there is one thing Norwegians are good at, it’s baking! Fall arrives much sooner in Norway than in the U.S. – in fact, the colors may be changing and the leaves may have started falling off the trees already as I’m writing this.
A beautiful shot of autumn in my hometown of Sykkylven, captured by Lars Arild Rokseth:
When I was younger, I used to hate that time of year because it was a sign that the long, dark and freezing cold winter would be right around the corner. Growing up, getting six feet of snow was not unusual and we only saw about 4-5 hours of light per day from the beginning of October until late March. A very long winter indeed. After nearly 20 years in this country, I have finally been able to look forward to the autumn with its glorious colors, and not to mention cooler weather. Fall has become a relief from the hot and humid summer days. I never thought I would look forward to saying good bye to summer and be appreciative of the change of seasons! Things do change! Back to my cake…
In this recipe I wanted to experiment some more, and decided to make a delicious vanilla pastry cream and add into the apple cake. The creamy, sweet vanilla mixed in with the refreshing, tart apples is a match made in heaven. I never buy packaged custards or pastry creams as I don’t like all the additives in these products, and although it is easy to whip up, the taste in a home made cream is ten thousand times better. The best part only 4-5 ingredients go into it and I know what they are! Doing some research, I’ve discovered that adding vanilla cream in apple cakes are now becoming more common and popular.
I used a mixture of Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Gala apples in this recipe, but you can choose whichever apples you like the most. I would recommend using a mixture of firm, very tart and very sweet apples, for me this has proven to yield the best results. In Norway, some apple types include Gravenstein, which has been the main variety since 1970, but is now number two following Aroma, which originally hails from Sweden and has become the most important kind of apple in Norway. As its name implies, the apple is very aromatic and is incredibly sweet and delicious. Gravenstein apples are big and very juicy, with a tart and fresh taste. Gravenstein is perfect for baking but is also a nice apple to eat on its own. Åkerø is a third variety which has a long history in Norway. Not an ideal apple to store over longer period of time, it is best as an apple to snack on.
Photo from aperitif.no
Including honey in an apple cake is another idea that would make this cake extra special, and Norwegian honey is probably the best honey I have ever tasted (and I’m not just saying that because I’m from Norway!). Otherwise, try to pick up a nice honey at the farmer’s market.. so much better than the store bought kind! Just a tip for another batch
Below is the recipe for my apple cake with vanilla pastry cream. Eplekake is delicious served with lightly whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream. A great cake that can also be frozen and saved for a future occasion. Because I love this cake, this recipe is intended for a large cake pan to be shared with your entire family, friends and neighbors… (if they are nice).
I hope you will be tempted to try this one out! It’s a rich cake but won’t taste like it… and definitely worth every single calorie!
NORSK EPLEKAKE MED VANILJEKREM (Norwegian Apple Cake With Vanilla Pastry Cream)
500 g (18 oz or roughly 1.1 lb or 4 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
500 g (1.1 lb) granulated sugar
3 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
3 tsp baking powder
500 grams/1.1 lb all purpose flour
8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
2 cups (5 deciliters) vanilla pastry cream *
5 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
80 grams (3 oz) sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celcius).
Line a 12 x 16 inch baking pan (30 x 40 cm) with parchment paper.
In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and vanilla sugar, set aside.
Combine the 5 tbsp of granulated sugar and 2 tbsp of ground cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
In a stand mixer, whisk the soft butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Slowly add in the flour mixture on low speed until well combined. Add in the flour mixture until the batter no longer has lumps. Do not over mix the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Place the sliced apples on top of the batter in a nice pattern, place dollops of the vanilla cream on top.
Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top and finish with the sliced almonds. (Feel free to omit the almonds.)
Bake the cake in the middle of the oven for about 40-50 minutes (be sure to check with a cake tester to check when cake is done).
Let the cake cool in the baking pan before carefully lifting out of pan and slice into squares and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or your favorite vanilla ice cream. “Nam!” as we say in Norwegian!
VANILJEKREM (Vanilla Pastry Cream)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla sugar or 1 vanilla bean stick
100 grams (3.5 oz) confectioners sugar
5 egg yolks
45 grams (1.5 oz) corn starch
Combine the whole milk and heavy cream in a small pot and heat up on stove until almost boiling.
In a separate bowl or in a stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks together with the vanilla sugar/bean and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy. In Norwegian, we call this “eggedosis”.
Carefully pour in a couple of ladles of the hot milk mixture into the eggs to temper it. Pour the egg mixture into the pot and whisk over low to medium heat, constantly whisking until it thickens. The mixture should look like a thick cream. Remove from heat and let cool – placing the pot in ice water helps cooling it down faster.
Transfer to a clean glass container and place in fridge. The cream /custard will last for about one week in the fridge.
As I continue to moan about the hot and humid weather, the only thing I could even fathom making in terms of food this week was… ice cream! Besides being my favorite kind of dessert, there is nothing that compares to that cooling feeling of ice cream with a creamy, sweet and crunchy mouth feel of Norwegian “krokan-is”. Dangerously good!!
“Krokan” is a word we use in Norwegian that I haven’t been able to find a direct translation for in English – but describes caramelized sugar combined with butter and chopped nuts and comes from the French word “croquant”, which means crunchy. There are a variety of other desserts that contains krokan, including mousse dishes, the Norwegian cream cake “bløtkake” and a delicious milk chocolate called “krokan rull” (krokan roll), popular among many Norwegians and non-Norwegians who have tried it:
I haven’t quite been able to find anything similar in the U.S. to krokan-is in my years here. Sure, there is praline ice cream and other vanilla ice creams with nuts and caramel, but there is a pure flavor combination to this Norwegian ice cream I can’t quite put words to; it is just simply unmatched and must be experienced. Mention krokan-is to anybody from Norway and they all seem to get this dreamy look on their face. Look at this beautiful home made krokan brittle:
Krokan brittle is also sprinkled on soft serve vanilla ice cream in Norway, typically a big hit on May 17th, Norway’s constitution day:
Making home made ice cream is ridiculously easy, especially if you have one of these inexpensive ice cream makers (about $60 on Amazon.com):
It’s perfectly fine to follow and make this recipe even if you don’t have an ice cream machine, don’t despair! Serve it as is or spooned into a waffle cone. Some like it served with chocolate shavings – I prefer to take in all the wonderful, caramelized flavors of the krokan and the pure vanilla flavor of the ice cream and enjoy how perfectly well they go together.
Warning: Once you make this, going back to store bought ice cream or any other ice cream for that matter, will be very, very difficult. This might be my favorite creation so far! Happy ice cream making!!
4 egg yolks
150 grams sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split in half
For Caramelized Nuts:
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 /2 cup almonds or hazelnuts (or a combination of both), roughly chopped
Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean pod, and place in sauce pot with the milk and bring to a near simmer. Take off heat and let cool off for a few minutes.
In a stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and well combined, add in the heavy cream and the milk mixture and mix well.
Melt the sugar and butter in a saute pan over medium heat until it starts darkening and turning into liquid, making sure it does not burn (do not move away from stove). Add the nuts and let it turn into a caramel color.
Pour the nut mixture onto a large sheet of parchment paper and let it seize up and harden.
Chop the mixture into small pieces and if making ice cream by hand, add into the ice cream mixture, stir to combine. Place in freezer and stir every five-ten minutes to avoid the mixture from forming crystals. Alternatively, pour mixture into an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically the ice cream is churned for about 30 minutes, and the nuts added during the last 5 minutes. If the mixture isn’t thick/hard enough, you can always transfer ice cream to a separate airtight container and freeze for a few more minutes. I like mine pretty soft. The result is something like this (Norwegian viking pewter spoon optional):
* Note: I’ve also seen this ice cream made with the Norwegian spreadable goat cheese Snøfrisk, and I can only imagine how lovely this would be! Try adding a container of that in for an extra tangy taste! My next batch will contain this cheese for sure!