Fairs and markets smell lovely this time of year from candied and roasted almonds. I associate the smell with two things: New York City and Christmas.
Unsure how the ones sold at the Christmas fairs are made I decided to make my own using Oh She Glows Vegan Candied Almonds recipe, using brown cane sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. The frosting/topping is homemade almond paste (recipe below) mixed with a little whipped cream. The cupcake bottom is a basic vanilla cupcake (minus the apples) with 1/2 tsp almond extract added.
Almond paste, makes about 1 1/2-2 dl
- 1 dl raw, unsalted almonds
- 100 g caster sugar
- 2 tsp glucose
- 1-3 tsp water
Blanch and peel the almonds: bring water to the boil and pour in the almonds. Simmer for about a minute then transfer to a colander and rinse with cold water. Peel the almonds and then leave on a baking sheet or kitchen towel to dry.
Grind the dry, blanched almonds to a fine flour in a coffee grinder. Transfer to a food processor and add the sugar and mix until combined. Add glucose and water as necessary to get a smooth paste.
I lived in the UK for a few years and sinse then I very much associate brussel sprouts with Christmas. Last year we had them lightly steamed and topped with gremolata. This year I’d like to make something like this with apples and raisins (recipe in Swedish).
I made today’s cupcake in honour if the recent snow. Where I live it’s still white and fluffy, but unfortunately it’s too warm to last. Also there are other threats than the temperature: I went out looking for some untouched snow for my photo but of course the kitty patrole had already been out.
This was my first go at sea buckthorn curd. I used my lemon curd recipe and just swapped some of the lemon juice for sea buckthorn purée. It didn’t thicken up as I wanted to on my first go, but when I reheated the whole thing up the day after it immediately thickened to a curd. Obviously this needs more testing and perhaps a little tweeking to be a proper recipe, but I’ve written down just how I did it. It comes out quite strong in flavour.
Sea buckthorn curd, makes 1 1/2-2 dl
- 0,6 dl cold water
- 1,2 dl caster sugar
- 3 Tbsp corn starch
- a pinch of salt
- 0,4 dl sea buckthorn purée
- 0,2 dl lemon juice
To make purée out of whole (rinsed and defrosted) sea buckthorn put the berries in a food processor on the lowest setting for a minute or so. Then pour through a sif to extract the liquid and discard the leftovers. Put the purée to one side.
Mix water, sugar, corn starch and salt in a sauce pan and stir until the ingredients have dissolved into the water. Bring to the boil while stirring. Lower the heat and simmer, but keep stirring. Keep simmering and stirring some more, and finally take off the heat and transfer to a non-metallic bowl. Add the lemon juice and sea buckthorn purée. Stir and pour into clean glas jars. Will last a few days in the fridge.
Like I said earlier I let my curd simmer for quite a while and it still hadn’t gone thick enough when I checked it the next day, so I transfered it back to a saucepan and heated it. It instantly thickened and I simply put it back in the fridge to cool, then used it.
Yesterday I told you about two kinds of cabbage that are Christmas dinner staples in Sweden. Another side dish eaten at Christmas, and often with the meat balls, is beet root sallad. I don’t eat much of that either, my mother’s version is one of few I like, so last year when we had Christmas dinner at my place I served fermented beet roots (which I love) instead. This year though I think I’ll try a promising sounding recipe my friend made which is a mix of traditional and modern: fermented beet root sallad (recipe Godaste rödbetssalladen, in Swedish).
We’ve finally had our first snow of the season here in Malmö, and with it came an awful winter storm that lasted for days. I much prefer the still, thick and cozy kind of snow, but there you go. At least it feels like winter.
Today’s cupcake has another great flavour combo: chocolate, coconut and coffee. The recipe is this one, only without the cranberries and ground instant coffee granules added, about 2 Tbsp. Strong black coffee (cold) was also added to this frosting recipe (to taste), which was then topped with toasted coconut flakes. Lovely.
Other traditional Swedish Christmas foods are rödkål and brunkål: red and brown cabbage (the latter actually made using white cabbage), but I don’t like the way they’re traditionally made, so I don’t tend to eat them. I love red cabbage though and make other dishes with it: ferment it or use it raw in a Christmassy salad, such as this one, or perhaps this one (recipes in Swedish).
With the meat balls, kale stew and other vegan Christmas goodies many Swedes eat a potato dish called Janssons frestelse. We didn’t used to eat this in my family until I met my boyfriend who likes it and makes it every year. We call his vegan version Åkessons frestelse instead (that being his surname). He makes a deliscious one even I like, but hasn’t published his recipe. Here is another vegan version.
Oh wow, today´s flavour turned out even better than I hoped. I will definitely be making these again. The topping is regular (dairy free) whipped cream with lightly toasted hazelnut, and the cupcake bottoms were made using this recipe:
Toasted hazelnut latte cupcakes, makes about 8
- 1/2 cup of roughly chopped hazelnuts
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp dark vanilla powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 3 Tbsp oat milk
- 1/2 cup strong, cold coffee
- 3 tsp No Egg powder whisked with 4 Tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin pan with 8 cupcake liners. Lightly toast and skin the hazelnuts. Set aside to cool.
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla and salt into a bowl. Add the oil, milk, coffee and No Egg-mixture, and stir until combined. The batter will turn out relatively thick, but should still be a batter rather than a dough. Add a little more milk if you it feels to thick to stir. Fold in the chopped hazelnuts.
Pour into liners, filling 2/3 of the way. Bake for 18-20 minutes in the middle of the oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take out of the oven and leave in the muffin pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.
Another staple in Swedish cuisine is of course meatballs. They’re so Swedish they’re even known as Swedish meatballs in some parts of the world. So of course we eat them for Christmas too. There are plenty of deliscious vegan versions luckily. The last few years we’ve had lots of raw food at our table on Christmas Eve including raw meat balls made from nuts or almonds, but this year I might try this recipe for cooked vegan meatballs (recipe in Swedish).
I love lingonberries, or cowberries as they’re also known. For some reason I think of them as a very Swedish/Scandinavian flavour, but they also grow in other parts of Europe, in Asia as well as in North America. We eat them alot over here and pick them in the forest in the autumn (well some of us). They go great with many Christmas flavours, including gingerbread as in today’s cupcake. I used the gingerbread cupcake recipe below and added a few lingonberries. You can add more, but be adviced that as they’re frozen the cooking time might need adjusting. The frosting I used is the same as for some of the other cupcakes, one of my favourites.
Gingerbread & lingonberry cupcakes, makes 12
- 1 cup oat milk
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup plain soy yogurt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp dark vanilla powder
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 cup frozen lingonberries
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners. In a large bowl whisk together milk, oil, yogurt and sugar until all yoghurt lumps disappear. Sift vanilla, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves into wet ingredients. Mix until no large lumps remain. Finally fold in the berries.
Pour into liners, filling 2/3 of the way. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take out of the oven and leave in the muffin pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.
Lingonberries are probably not typically found on the smörgåsbord like Christmas table in Sweden, but aside from being great in baked goods and other foods they make a great side sauce. I love the kind where you stir raw lingonberries with a little sugar, like in this recipe.
A classic flavour; chocolate & espresso, but with a twist: a tiny sprinkle of cinnamon to give it an extra Christmassy feel. I used the same recipe as for the Chocolate & cranberry cuppies, but excluded the cranberries and instead added 2 Tbsp instant espresso and 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon to the batter. The frosting is this one, dusted with finely ground coffee beans.
Coffee is ever present in Sweden, and we love our fika dearly. We drink coffee for Christmas too obviously, although in my family no one seems to care much for Christmassy versions of it. Another must when it comes to holiday drinks here is julmust; a sparkling drink with a very particular flavour (that not everyone likes). It doesn’t taste like root beer but is similarly hard to describe tastewise. The recipe for julmust is a well kept secret and only the soda companies make it, so therefore no recipe link today.