Chocolate Balls – For all ages

c7Once in a while, the sweet tooth aces for attention and I suddenly feel the urge to whip up something sweet and tasty. When ever this phenomena occurred growing up, these chocolate balls was an often recurring star. It takes minutes to throw together and is made with ingredients already often found at home. 

You might think it’s more of a kid’s treat than an adult’s but I beg to differ. I am pretty sure my parents ate as many of these as my sisters and I did. They might absolutely, totally and 100% disagree, but who would you believe anyway? 

As a great addition to a kid’s party, roll them in colourful sprinkles and sparkles. For the adult party, add a splash of your favourite rum or cognac, and cover them in the traditional coconut flakes or pearl sugar, or why not try chopped pistachios? 

For those of you who still think this is not for me, well, listen to your inner child. Don’t deny it, we all have them. Listen carefully. I think it’s time to give him or her a treat! 

Jens

c2

100g butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup oats

3 tbsp cocoa

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp cold coffee

shredded coconut or pearl sugar as garnish

In a bowl, beat together butter and sugar. When well mixed, add the cocoa, vanilla and coffee. Blend until smooth. Stir in the oats.

Roll into small 1″ balls, and roll in shredded coconut or pearl sugar.

Makes 15-20

c4c3c1c5

Swedish Sugar Rings -Christmas 3/3

s6If you ask a Swede if they have ever had Sockerringar, they would most likely say yes. How they became a Swedish classic on the cookie tray I don’t know, but I am happy they did. Light, crisp and fluffy rings, generously sprinkled with crunchy pearl sugar.  So delicious.

Traditionally, when inviting guests for more formal coffee parties, 7 different cookies were the norm. Cinnamon buns and a selection of soft and hard cookies. The more elaborate the better. I remember how sometimes on Sunday after church, we would enjoy ‘church coffee’ with fellow churchgoers. What a treat for a young kid. By the time I was done mowing down cinnamon buns and cookie selections, nothing more was needed until dinner time. Perhaps not the best lunch for a growing boy but quite worth it once in a while. 

Although Swedish sugar rings are not considered a Christmas cookie per se, they have always reminded me of christmas ornaments. Perhaps it’s the pearl sugar. Who knows. Just tie them up in a string, hang them in the tree and voila! Pretty edible treats within an arms reach.

Jens

 s3

3/4 cup cream

1/3 cup water

2 1/2 tsp dry yeast

300g butter (room temperature)

4 1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup pearl sugar*

 

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium sauce pan, heat up the cream and water to 98F (37C). Place yeast in a bowl and add the liquid. Let sit for 10 min. 

Add the yeast mixture to a mixer along with the butter. Mix well. On low speed, sift in the flour, a little bit at a time, until well blended. Transfer the dough to a flat surface dusted with flour. Roll out the dough until 1/2″ thick. 

Using a 2 1/2″ cookie cutter, make rounds in the dough. Then using a 1-1 1/2″ cookie cutter, make smaller rounds within the large ones. Remove the centre of the small rounds. Carefully lift up the rounds and dip the surface in pearl sugar. Place on a sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the middle of the oven for 15-20 min. 

In the meantime, collect the cut out pieces of dough, kneed it into a smooth dough, roll back out and repeat until all the dough is used up. Once all the cookies are baked, turn the oven down to 200F. Place all the cookies on a baking sheet (one big pile) and let sit in the oven for 1-2 hrs to dry. 

These cookies are quite easy to make and they will keep well in a sealed container and won’t need to be kept in the freezer. Makes 50-60 cookies. 

*Pearl Sugar, also known as Nib Sugar can be found in specialty food stores. The great thing with pearl sugar is that it does not melt when baked but stays nice and crunchy. Also great to sprinkle on top of cinnamon buns.s7s13s10

Swedish Saffron Buns -Christmas 1/3

s3Lucia. The old Scandinavian tradition where girls dress up in white dresses with a candle-lit wreath on their head and guys, often rather embarrassed, in tow wearing funny pointy hats while holding a big golden star. Dating back to 3rd Century Syracuse, Sicily, Saint Lucy supposedly brought food and aid to those in need, spreading light and peace in the dark winter months. The candle-lit wreath was used to free her hands in order to carry more food. 

Lucia always falls on December 13. This is when these soft golden saffron scented buns with raisin decorations are first introduced for the season. They are then served at most coffee breaks until shortly after Christmas, when they will not be seen again until the following year. Often served along alongside gingerbread cookies and a hot cup of Swedish glögg or coffee. I love eating them slightly warm with a glass of cold milk.

Jens

s1 

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup dark rum

2 tbsp dry yeast

2 cups milk

1 pinch saffron strands

1 cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

7 cups flour

100g butter, room temperature

2 eggs

Soak the raisins in the rum. 

In a small sauce pan, add 1/2 cup of the milk along with the saffron. Stir and heat up to just below boiling to extract colour and flavour of the saffron. Let cool.

In a medium sauce pan, add the rest of the milk and heat to 37C. Remove from heat and add the yeast. Let stand for 10 min. 

In a mixer, add the milk/yeast and saffron along with the ricotta cheese, sugar and salt. Blend well. Slowly add the flour while mixing on slow. When well incorporated, spoon in the soft butter and mix until smooth. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest 40-50 min.

Preheat oven to 450F. 

Cut dough in half. Cover one half and roll the the other half into a long rectangle, about 6” wide and 1/2” thick.

Cut in thin strips and roll into shape. Place on a baking tray, add the raisins, cover, and let rest for another 30 min. Repeat with the second half of dough.

Brush with whisked egg. Bake in oven 7-10 min or until golden brown. s6s5 s4 s2

 

 

Crumble – Apple or Blueberry?

c1And just like that it’s fall. The excitement of harvest. A flurry of activity. Long days. Very long days. Our grapes have all been picked, hand sorted, fermented and pressed. It’s a nice feeling. We are now in control, rather than being dependent on Mother Nature. I have to say, she’s been generous most of the summer. A bumper crop is always nice to get. 

Now that the grapes are in, the apples are next. Luscious golden russets. Bin after bin arriving at the winery to be sorted, crushed and pressed into what will be 2015 sparkling cider. They are good apples. Crazy good. Just as we constantly taste the grapes at harvest, we munch on the apples when they come in as well. 

The other night we had friends over for dinner and I wanted to make a crumble – Swedish style. It’s a fairly recurring dessert here. Simple, but delicious. I mostly make this crumble using blueberries but is equally as tasty using apples. One can opt for vanilla ice cream alongside the crumble, but nothing beats a smooth mouthwatering homemade vanilla custard. I always make the custard in advance and serve it slightly chilled with a warm crumble. Heaven.

c2c3

 

 

Crumble Blueberry or Apple

Crumble:

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup flour

125g cold butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces

3 cups blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

OR:

5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced in thin wedges

1/4 cup sugar

 

In a food processor, add the sugar, flour and butter. Pulse until the butter are in tiny pieces. This will not create a moist sticky dough. It looks more like a powder.

In a pie dish, add the apple slices (or blueberries). Sprinkle with the sugar.

Pour the flour/sugar/butter on top. Spread out evenly to cover. 

Place in the upper part of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until soft and golden brown. 

Vanilla Custard

2 cups milk

1 cup cream

8 egg yolks

2 tbsp corn starch

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large sauce pot, heat up milk and cream over medium heat. Remove from heat when bubbles form along the edges of the pot. 

In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar and corn starch and whisk until light and fluffy. 

Very slowly, while whisking, add the warm milk. It’s important to add the warm milk slowly since you don’t want to shock the yolks. 

Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the sauce pot and slowly heat it up over low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or flat edged wooden spoon. Take off the heat once the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 10-15 min. Set aside and add the vanilla extract. Mix well.

Use warm, or, sprinkle with a thin layer of sugar if you want to leave it to cool. This will prevent skin forming on the surface.

c8c5c4c9

Grandmas’ Pickled Cucumber Salad

c1This is a simple and delicious recipe for a pickled cucumber salad. I remember sitting in my Grandmothers’ kitchen as a kid. Green and orange flowery wallpaper covering the walls and a matching round dining table set. Also green. We were about to devour her amazing meatballs, potatoes, creamy gravy and these perfectly matched pickled cucumbers.  On a shelf next to the table was a hand cranked coffee grinder. Simple design, yet its leavers, slots and drawers fascinated me. A perfect distraction and entertainment at the table until food arrived. I wonder what happened to it…

c2

 

2/3 cup white vinegar

1/3 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 pinches salt

2 pinches pepper

In a bowl add vinegar, water and sugar. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add the cucumber and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir well, then place in the fridge for 2-3 hours, stirring it once in a while. Serves 4

c3c4c6